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Charlotte blogger Tara Servatius resigns over Obama portrayal

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By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com

A blogger for conservative N.C. think tank The John Locke Foundation has resigned after she illustrated a story about President Obama’s position on N.C.’s Marriage Amendment with a photoshopped image of the president in chains and high heels with a bucket of fried chicken.

 Tara Servatius

On Monday, "Meck Deck" blogger Tara Servatius, who hosted a talk show on WBT-AM (1110) until May 2011, posted a story about Obama and the marriage amendment, accompanied by an image of the president’s face photoshopped onto a black man wearing high heels and chains. Between the man’s legs is a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The photo has since been removed from the blog posting.

Here is the unedited version.

In a comment on his Facebook page, John Hood, the president of the John Locke Foundation, said Servatius had resigned.

He also explained what happened: "Earlier this week, a freelancer who blogs at the John Locke Foundation's Charlotte site posted a piece about President Obama's opposition to North Carolina's marriage amendment. It included an illustration that was offensive and utterly inappropriate for our blog or anyone else's. A reader brought it to my attention yesterday, and I had it removed immediately, but the damage was done."

In an e-mail, Rick Henderson, the managing editor of the foundation's Carolina Journal, said no one at the organization reviewed Servatius' postion.

"No one at the John Locke Foundation saw, read, or reviewed the posting or the image before the item was posted on the blog. We typically do not review blog items prior to publication. We host five regional blogs and our statewide blog, The Locker Room, and have chosen not to dedicate the significant amount of staff time that would be needed to conduct that level of supervision at all the sites."

N.C. NAACP President Rev. William Barber also protested the portrayal of Obama in a statement to the news station:

"We at the NC NAACP have learned of the disgusting picture of our President on the John Locke Foundation blog and website. What we have seen so far has both racist and homophobic overtones, both of which are contrary to the fundamentals of our democracy. It’s outrageous and it shows the kind of racialized, mean-spirited and divisive political attitudes that still exist in the South.

"On Thursday we will demand to know who authorized and developed such a racist and bigoted portrayal to be placed on the site of an organization that seeks to have so much influence into the shaping of public policy in NC. Whoever did it is completely over the line. It is reckless and dangerous. And should not only be an affront to the black community, the civil rights community, the LBGT community, but every North Carolinian."

Servatius, a longtime columnist for Charlotte's weekly Creative Loafing, gradually became a presence at WBT, first as a guest, then filling in on shifts when hosts were off.

Servatius grew up in Charlotte and is a graduate of Charlotte Catholic High School and the UNC Chapel Hill School of Journalism.



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October 21, 2014
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