The inside story of a half century of news and news making

Mar. 30, 2013 @ 12:34 PM

“ I Never Promised Not to Tell”

By Grady Jefferys (CreateSpace publishers, $12.95)

Two kinds of people will rush to read Grady Jefferys' new book, “I Never Promised Not to Tell.”  First are those public and media officials who fear they are mentioned in this (tell-all) memoir by a veteran of nearly 50 political campaigns.  And, of course, those who fear they may not be mentioned.

It is a riveting tale of the happenings inside the smoke-filled rooms where winners and losers were chosen in campaigns for governor, Congress and numerous other offices down to and including county sheriff for the past half-century.

Now in his mid-70s,  Jefferys has a unique perspective of our state of public affairs.   He spent a lifetime working in various media and political-consultant ventures.

“Much of what is wrong with the national political campaign processes today is the willingness of candidates to place themselves completely in the hands of people whose role is not good government but whose only goal is to win the election,” he writes.   “This willingness stems from a sense of terror that strikes many candidates when they truly realize the enormous challenge that a successful campaign poses, the huge expenditures, the demeaning compromises, the exhausting schedules and the ever present fear that despite everything they do, they might experience failure, a rejection by fellow citizens of their community, their hometown —alas their entire state.”

This is not your typical “kiss and tell” book by a disgruntled operative.  Jefferys is rightfully proud of his nearly six decades of labor in the business of making news and news makers.

In the political side of the book, Jefferys recounts the story of how an obscure country bumpkin emerged from the backwoods of the western mountains to whip the favored candidate of the ruling regime and become one of the best governors of the century.

Readers also will learn other storied facts about North Carolina political history. Who was the wife of a congressman that told Jesse Helms he was an “a--hole,” twice? Who was the failed candidate for lieutenant governor that Jefferys threatened to throw out of a sixth floor window of the old Sir Walter Raleigh hotel over an unpaid campaign bill?

Who was the favored candidate for sheriff that chalked up his loss to the blatant support of his opponent by a major newspaper?

Jefferys’ media career began with a job in a small radio station, WNAO.  From that unique perspective, he tells the story of the owner of a small radio station emerging out of obscurity and beating a well-financed insurance company for a VHF television broadcasting license.  That company would come to dominate the capital city broadcast market and bloom into a billion-dollar empire.

A book of this type would be disappointing without a bit of sex, and it’s there.  Who was the prominent Raleigh business tycoon famous for regular afternoon trysts on his law library conference table, in full view of people in the building next door?  You will be surprised by this and more

Jefferys, a native of Wake County, began his career as a writer, journalist and film and video producer in the 1950s. He was employed by newspapers, magazines and television stations in Raleigh and Charlotte, as well as one of the first advertising agencies in the state. In 1968, he opened a political consulting business to provide advertising and public relations services, publish special interest publications, produce films and television programs and provide media consulting for political candidates and issues. He is the author of 12 books, hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles and is the writer and producer of more than 200 television programs, videos and film productions. He and his wife, Marie, have two sons and two daughters.

The book chronicles a tumultuous half century of North Carolina’s political history as seen through the eyes of one man who sought to make a difference.   You might conclude that he did.