A PAIR OF NORTH CAROLINA sheriff’s offices, in Ashe and Union counties, have a couple things in common. Each is on the receiving end of open records requests from an investigative TV reporter named Nick Ochsner, who asked for copies of text messages sent by law enforcement officials. And each office is pushing back against those requests to different degrees.
The FOIA disputes—between these rural sheriff’s offices and an urban reporter in this southern state—have made nightly newscasts and boiled over in behind-the-scenes legal correspondence. The dispute in Union County carries some of the anti-media posturing we’ve seen trickle down to the local level from Washington, including a mention of “fake news.”