You can play it below (weak quality, but good enough for evaluation purposes; should go to a separate tab or window; the “suspend elections for Congress” suggestion is at about the 0:33 mark; HTs to Drudge and the Daily Caller):
There is no chance that North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue is “joking” — not even in a Steven Wright sense.
You won’t believe who has had the audio all along (well, if you’re cynical enough, you will) — the same guy at the Raleigh News & Observer who told everyone yesterday — trust him! — that it was a joke.
UPDATE: It’s over at NewsBusters.
UPDATE 2: This is such a damning story that it still isn’t at the Associated Press’s main national news site. In AP’s unbylined local North Carolina story from last night at 9:54 p.m. (no way this is a national story [/sarc]), the headline reads: “Governor Perdue Jokes about Congressional Elections.” Today’s audio doesn’t lie; no she wasn’t.
Any bets on whether AP will do an accurate update?
UPDATE 3: Rush Limbaugh, who has gone to posting transcripts of his show and other helpful items in near-real time at his web site, elaborates –
… No laughter. No applause, either, but there was no laughter; there’s no jocularity there. This effort to say that she was just kidding is gonna fall flat because she wasn’t. She was dead serious.
… If they could get away with canceling elections, they would do it. That is who the Democrats of today are. That’s what the American left is all about.
… The Constitution doesn’t matter. Look at what the definition of “helping the country recover” is. Now, somebody sent me an e-mail, Rush: “Why would she do this? If they’re canceling the election she’s guaranteeing a huge Republican majority.” Well, they’re in a world of hurt. She wants to cancel the elections because 2012 could dwarf 2010 in terms of Republican victory/Democrat loss. What could happen in November next year… I’ll tell you if the election were in one month or two months, the Democrat Party would end up with the smallest number of elected representatives in the House of Representatives maybe in history.
UPDATE 5: RN&O reporter John Frank has just responded via email (bold is mine) –
This is John Frank, a political reporter at the News & Observer. I saw you picked up on Gov. Perdue’s remarks. The original headline was “Perdue suggest suspending Congressional elections for two years — was she serious?” It was updated later in the day to reflect the new information we received from the governor’s office, which called it “hyperbole.” Joke was used to suggest she wasn’t serious in the headline. I didn’t put joke in quotes though. I can assure you there is no case of bias — and folks on the Democratic and Republican side were both up in arms about the story/remarks.
The audio didn’t get posted until this morning because we had to edit it from a large file and it took the work of a few folks in the newsroom. Sorry we didn’t get it up faster.
I appreciate your interest in the story and thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any more questions.
The News & Observer
Sorry, John. No sale. If there were no bias, “joke” would have been in quotes. It wasn’t.
Because it wasn’t, a typical reader would take it to mean that it really was a joke. It wasn’t.
If you meant to communicate that Perdue or her peeps thought it was a joke, you would have put “joke” in quotes. You didn’t.
The excuse about the slow processing time for an obviously hot, time-sensitive audio is either pathetic or deceptive. Pathetic if, as I suspect, the audio involved was at the beginning of your recording of the event (likely, since you said that the audience member’s question “is not included on the tape because I didn’t flick my recorder on quickly enough”). Still pathetic, if RN&O couldn’t round anyone up to process audio pronto if you don’t know how to do it yourself. Deceptive, if you deliberately waited until this morning for the purpose of planting the seed that it was a joke (note that a local AP story bit on it last night) so that by the time we all found out that it really wasn’t it would be semi-old news.
To experience true nausea, check out Frank’s writeup of President Obama’s visit to North Carolina two weeks ago.