UNC-TV reporter was “happy” with being subpoenaed, documents show

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Documents obtained by YES! Weekly in Greensboro, N.C., reveal that reporter Eszter Vajda , at the middle of the Alcoa reporting scandal at UNC-TV (Current, July 26), was actually pleased at being subpoenaed by a General Assembly committee, reports Keith Barber of the Yes! Weekly alternative newspaper in Greensboro, N.C. Barber combed through some 5,800 internal documents from the station, which, he writes, “reveal her alliances with politicians, state officials and special-interest groups adamantly opposed to Alcoa’s bid for another 50 years of control over the Yadkin River. Richard Morgan, the former NC Speaker of the House and a paid consultant for the NC Water Rights Committee, paid Sansone $3,000 for his consultancy services. Considering Sansone and Vajda’s close personal and professional relationship, this represented a major conflict of interest for Vajda.”

Vajda had received a subpoena from Sen. Fletcher Hartsell (R), head of a General Assembly’s judiciary committee that was looking into Alcoa’s license bid. The subpoena was for her own documentary, which spun off her reporting on Alcoa’s dam licensing bid and alleged associated environmental problems. After another local reporter e-mailed Vajda to express concerns over the subpoena, Vajda replied: “This is something I’m happy with! … Hartsell is saving my ass!” Critics called Hartsell’s action a violation of the First Amendment, but inexplicably, Vajda was pleased by the development, Barber noted.