McCrory at a candidate forum in June in Charlotte. Photo via AP.

It’s been a bumpy year for North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, who signed the transphobic, anti-gay, questionably legal HB2 into law and has been clumsily trying to defend it ever since. Last week, in the midst of a sweaty reelection campaign, his staff held a Q&A that supposedly featured questions from the Charlotte Observer. In fact, they were softball questions from his staff; delightfully, an actual reporter from the Observer was present to ask what the hell.

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In a piece we saw via Media Matters, the Observer’s editorial page editor Taylor Batten writes that he attended a business group luncheon where McCrory was supposedly taking questions from the media and the audience. The questions were written down and read to him by a moderator; three of them were billed as coming from the Charlotte Observer.

Batten was understandably a little miffed, especially when he was prevented from asking an actual question so that fake questions from his not-real colleagues could get through:

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When the moderator asked how to get started, McCrory said, “Anything you like. No filter here.” Sure, who needs a filter when you posed the questions yourself?

When I tried to ask McCrory a question, the filter went up. “We’ve got three Observer questions answered already. I think you guys dominate the news enough.”

Of course, those weren’t Observer questions. They were softballs from his staff about what he wanted to do with his next term; how he wanted to reduce the state’s rape kit backlog; and how the state crime lab performed under McCrory’s opponent, Roy Cooper.

Batten reports that McCrory skedaddled soon after:

When the event was over, McCrory did not meet with the throng of reporters who were there. He ducked out a side door and down a hall that led to a back exit. I followed him to try to ask him about HB2, but his staff blocked me.

This is delightfully stupid and very embarrassing and couldn’t happen to a nicer guy: McCrory has defended HB2 by falsely claiming it keeps sexual predators out of bathrooms and made it a cornerstone of his reelection campaign, even as the law has cost the state an estimated $330 million in business so far. He’s now bizarrely claiming the state can’t repeal HB2 unless the city of Charlotte agrees to repeal a local anti-discrimination law. He and other conservative lawmakers claim HB2 was a necessary response to Charlotte’s local law, which allows trans people to use the bathroom of their choice. The mayor of Charlotte says the city has no plans to overturn their law and that McCrory will have to solve his HB2 mess himself.