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Sunday, December 30, 2007
The Gayest Year Ever

One of the only downsides to not subscribing to the Star Tribune is that you lose touch with the latest and greatest methods the paper has found to alienate sizable portions of their potential subscriber base. Case in point is a column in the Lifestyle section called "Withering Glance," which offers a couple of gay dudes (Rick Nelson & Claude Peck) the opportunity to vamp about the latest and greatest goings-on in the homosexual world. Here's a sample offering from today's paper:

RN: So, was this the gayest year ever, or what?

CP: It weren't no "Brokeback Mountain," peanut, but there were plenty of noteworthy GLBTish occurrences. Locally, Sen. Larry Craig and his wide stance goo-goo eyes turned our little flyoverland airport into a tourist hotspot. Who knew it would take a "straight" man to familiarize a mainstream audience with the notion of the tearoom tryst?

This is the Sunday edition of the major daily newspaper in the Twin Cities, mind you not an alternative weekly or the latest "Lavender." A paper that Twin Cities families might well be reading together late Sunday morning after church. Mommy, what's a tearoom tryst?

In addition to celebrating and promoting the gay lifestyle, the boys at "Withering Glance" aren't adverse to taking shots at religious leaders who dare teach morality that makes them uncomfortable:

CP: In other Twin Cities news, archbishop-in-waiting John Nienstedt decided to out-pope the pope in a published statement, that said, in part, "Those who actively encourage or promote homosexual acts or such activity with a homosexual lifestyle formally cooperate in grave evil and, if they do so knowingly and willingly, are guilty of mortal sin." This divisive ultra-orthodoxy does not appear to have played that well with anyone outside of Opus Dei.

Apparently Claude's definition of "ultra-orthodoxy" is anything that follows the actual teaching of the Church. Lest there be any doubt, here's what the Catechism says on homosexuality:

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

Not a lot of wiggle room with that last sentence is there? Other than easily outraged gay activists, a few "progressive" parishes in the Twin Cities, and the local media, I actually think that Nienstedt's remarks have played just fine. Especially among most Catholics in the archdiocese, who after all are the ones his message was directed to in the first place.

I'm not sure where Claude gets his impressions on how they've gone over. Must be reading the Star Tribune a lot.


Friday, December 28, 2007
Blind Faith

From the brain trust who brought the magic of Teacher's Union Talk to the local airwaves, an exciting new, and progressive, weekend radio experience is coming soon:

Minnesota Atheists are taking their message to the air waves with a new radio program that will debut in January on the talk station Air America Minnesota.

FINALLY, a break from the 24-7 Christianist, theocratic propaganda heard on KQRS, WCCO, KDWB, MPR, KFAN, etc., etc. It sounds like a refreshing perspective we haven't heard before. At least we haven't heard it from the Minnesota Atheists (which I think would be a much more intimidating nickname for a hockey team than the Minnesota Wild). Just who are these people?

Until now, [spokesman August Berkshire] said the organization reached only a small and shrinking number of people who tuned into its public access cable TV show.

Which I think was a direct quote from their initial pitch to Air America management. Whaddya know, that's exactly what they were looking for! With radio instincts like this, I'm shocked these people aren't pulling down six figure salaries working for Minnesota Public Radio.

Ultimately, this is what won management's heart:

"We are a progressive talk station and we think this will be a nice addition to go with the variety of content we have on this station," Hansen said.

It's true, once this new show starts, the station will offer programming for both perspectives, atheists and agnostics.

Just don't dare question their religiosity or claim Republicans have more in common with Christian values voters.

Atheists and those who love them, mark down the following broadcast information:

The show will air Sundays from 9 to 10 a.m. on AM 950 starting Jan. 13

It is interesting to note, this is only going to be a one hour, once a week radio program. On a Sunday no less (I guess atheists have nothing better to do Sunday morning). And the monopoly newspaper in town devotes an article breathlessly promoting it, before it's aired a single broadcast. You can't buy that kind of advertising. If only there was a conservative or Christian radio program around that could have capitalized on this objective standard for media reporting!

The scheduled first show of Atheist Talk does have some potential:

. . . Oxford professor, evolutionary biologist and renowned atheist Richard Dawkins will be the featured guest.

Not for his tired musings, but for the potential of hearing that Vox from Milan is holding with a question on Line 1. He has offered to debate Dawkins before, including leaving this calling card. What better place for an open-minded exchange of ideas than on Air America?


Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Profiles in Centrism

Self-professed centrist "Flash" is celebrating his five year blog anniversary. He links to an Internet archived version of his early days in blogging, from March 2004 where we find this eloquent, insightful observation:

The Northern Axis Radio, and the group of Rush wannabes with their RNC talking points. I really was hoping for a more independent, objective look at the world's happenings. Instead, it is just a bunch of retreaded one-liners from a group of hacks!

Hey, he's talking about us. For having the unmitigated gall to take a conservative view of the world, you get labeled a Nazi? And an unoriginal one at that! When this is the voice of the political center in Minnesota, you can understand why the NARN needed to exist.

The Northern Axis Alliance Radio Network, Saturdays 11AM - 5 PM, on AM1280 the Patriot.

For another glimpse of the world from which we sprang, this observation on the state of local talk radio, from the guy who used to be paid to write about radio as an objective observer for the St. Paul monopoly newspaper:

For the unaware, [Dan Barreiro's] 4 to 7 p.m. KFAN show is something of an oasis of literacy in Twin Cities commercial talk. While the basic stratagem for holding male audiences continues to depend heavily on feeding the ill-informed near toxic amounts of bullshit and candy, Barreiro's act routinely reflects someone who reads material heavier than NewsMax, the deep thoughts of Hugh Hewitt and Fantasy Football websites. The ex-Strib sports columnist appears to actually read -- gasp! -- books, novels and more than one newspaper. What's more, his show reflects something more evolved than a supermarket check-out line intelligence level.

No mention that Barreiro is also a liberal. I'm sure that's not germane in any way to Lambert's admiration of him.

I'll take him at his word. It's all about education and intelligence that sets Barreiro above the AM radio howler monkeys. If only those Ivy League and advance degree holders like Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, Bill Bennett, John Hinderaker, King Banaian, etc. would read as much, and be as intelligent as, sports writer and journalism degree carrying Dan Barreiro, then maybe they would be worth listening to.

UPDATE: I forgot Chad the Elder. Can you imagine how much better his interviews with the likes of John McWhorter, John Nagl, Victor Davis Hanson, etc. would be if he actually read books!

The Elder Hangs His Head: I gotta admit that I'm not as well-read as Barreiro having never been able get through those intellectually challenging Vince Flynn novels. I'm also jealous that he can keep up with political heavyweights like Pat Kessler. Meanwhile, we just have to settle for the likes of Michael Barone, Mark Steyn, Max Boot, and Michael Burleigh.

SP Piles on the Shame: Chad, if you're interested in rising to the level of the intellectual heavyweights of radio in this town, start taking note of Barreiro's "Book Tip of the Week". This week's selection and review:

Dark House, by Alex Barclay - Very solid thriller about a New York cop who moves with his family to a lighthouse in Ireland, only to find his son the leading suspect in a murder, and that a controversial old case is following him across the pond and will threaten his entire family. The story really moves. Excellent dialogue, ending a bit abrupt for me, but well worth the time.

My brain hurts already.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Irrational Exuberance?

The soon-to-be-letdown Hugh Hewitt celebrates this post by Brian Lambert at The Rake which references this tidbit from Steve Perry's soon-to-be-launched Daily Mole (confused yet?):

As one Strib veteran tells the Mole, "The right-wing blog voices that were bashing the paper a couple of years ago, Hugh Hewitt and the rest, have gotten pretty much everything they wanted. The GOP wanted the Minnesota Poll gone, and now it's gone. They wanted to get rid of people like [editorial board members] Jim Boyd and Susan Albright and their editorial policy, and they've succeeded at that. Now there won't be editorials about the war and global warming; they'll write about local issues like zoning conflicts in Coon Rapids instead. They wanted the paper to hire a conservative columnist, and they got that. From here on out, it looks like the Strib becomes the conservative, suburbs-oriented paper, and the Pioneer Press will become the paper of the city underdogs and the blue voters. They may wind up getting pushed more to the left."

(The soon-to-be-wearing-a-dress Captain Ed also weighs in.)

My colleague Saint Paul has noted that a number of the more prominent names in the local liberal media have exited stage left in the last couple of years (some voluntarily, some not). While some have bemoaned the loss of such prime targets, most local conservatives have applauded the changes. However, it seems far too early to be declaring victory and the idea that we "have gotten pretty much everything we wanted" is ludicrous.

Personally, what I wanted was a local newspaper that delivered the relevant news in an objective manner, presented a broad range of views in the opinion pages, and showcased interesting material from talented writers. I also did not want my intelligence or values gratuitously insulted on a regular basis.

While some of the recent departures from the editorial board are likely to diminish the insult quotient and perhaps bring better balance to the opinion section, I haven't seen anything that would lead me to believe the Strib is going to address the other areas of concern. And even though her title as "Reader's Representative" seemed dubious at times, the fact that Kate Parry is moving into a new role and the Strib has no plans to replace her doesn't inspire confidence that the paper is committed to putting out a quality product.

The absence of some the more egregious left-wing bias does not mean the Strib has truly righted the ship.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Here, There And Everywhere

Back in the day when I used to subscribe to the Star Tribune, my biggest irritation with the daily newspaper was not with the blatantly biased editorial pages. Rather, it was the way that the paper's leftward tilt crept into each and every section. There really wasn't any part of the paper that was free from this pernicious influence. Whether it was intentional or not didn't really matter. It was there and it was noticeable.

A reader who wishes to remain anonymous e-mails with a recent example from the business section of Strib:

In the Saturday Strib, business section, front page, bottom left; there was an article titled, "Health Care Tops List of Employer Concerns." Considering the title, and that this was the Business section, you would expect a story listing the concerns of employers. As I read the article, I noticed a distinct disconnect.
The 4th paragraph read as follows:

"About 55% of businesses said that "access to affordable healthcare" was their No.1 or No. 2 state issue: 41 % said that "controlling taxes and spending" was their first of second largest concern."

By my count, the entirety of the Strib story had:

7 paragraphs about healthcare

7 paragraphs on transportation including talk about increased gas tax

3 paragraphs on environmental/energy concerns

1 paragraph on education

0 paragraphs on high taxes

How can a reporter write a story about employers concerns then make no mention about the #2 concern; other than the half a sentence stating that it was the #2 concern. And then to give entire paragraphs supporting an INCREASE in taxes?

Imagine the front page of the Sports section talking about the best college football teams in the nation. There's several paragraphs about LSU, several about California, a few on Ohio State and one on Wisconsin. But nowhere in the article is there a mention of USC; one of two teams that essentially shares all the first place votes. The story goes into some detail about LSU's line, Ohio State's playcalling and California's schedule; but nothing about USC. Nada! Zip! How does that story get written? How does that story get past the editor? How does that story make it on the front page of the Sports section?!?!


Saturday, September 29, 2007
The Way They Were

Steven writes in to comment on the changes in the local editorial pages and wakes up some ghosts of contributors past:

Excellent post regarding Susan Albright leaving as Editorial Page Poohbah at the Strib. The interview that Jim Boyd gave after he left as Vice Poohbah confirmed my assumptions about how that page is run. The fact that they had to be FORCED to run a conservative columnist each day is unbelievable. And, how interesting and worthwhile is a conservative column going to be that is selected by a lefty, who is bitter about having to run one in the first place? Anyway, the internet has superseded the newspaper editorial pages. There are so many fantastic writers and thinkers out there.

When I think back to my younger days, unfurling the Pioneer Press (I grew up in St.
Paul), and seeing day after day of Anthony Lewis, Ellen Goodman, Cal Thomas,
Alexander Cockburn, David Morris, etc., I wonder why I cared. Ellen Goodman is still getting run in newspapers, and if she has EVER made an interesting, witty or insightful point in her too-long career, I've missed it.

One person that I would like to see dumped in the Strib shakeup is cartoonist Kirk Anderson. He completely sucked when he was with the Pioneer Press, and his Thursday 'toons are a waste of time. Although I did have a kind of fascination last year when week after week he would portray Iraqi prisoners with their eyes being gouged out. Every single week. The man had a weird fascination with eyes being removed.

He also has a fascination for calling his fellow Americans Nazis. Match that up with their seething insult editorials and there you have our local newspaper on a daily basis. In context, I imagine ownership has been pleasantly surprised at the only moderate advertising revenue losses and circulation decline.


Thursday, September 27, 2007
Somewhere Over the Elbow

It appears the era of the insult ediorial may be over at the Star Tribune. The interim publisher has announced that the editorial page editor is leaving after 15 years. The former deputy editor has previously stated that the new owners "demanded that editorials in the Star Tribune demonstrate "no sharp elbows."

This is a logical and long over due step by our local newspaper monopoly. Over the past few years I've been astonished at the shrill tone and the vindictive nature present in the "institutional voice" of the Star Tribune. Not astonished that a bunch of comfortable, establishment liberals would produce such copy. But astonished that a business enterprise would allow one of its most valuable properties to be turned into an instrument used to purposely alienate vast swaths of its potential customer base.

To be clear, the unremitting leftist content of their work wasn't the problem. A forum for even that perspective, presented in an intelligent, persuasive, engaging fashion would be an asset to the community. It would draw interested readers from all sides, engender debate and good will, and educate us unwashed masses about the important issues of the day.

But, that's not what we were served up. Instead, the Star Tribune unsigned editorials used their megaphone to go out of their way to do nothing more than rant and insult people voting for Republicans or holding conservative beliefs. It reached a level where only a fool or a masochist in this targeted audience could continue to hand over money to them in order to get more of the same. Thank you sir, may I have another!

A few examples of their work include the teeth gnashing, hair pulling, garment rending commentaries surrounding the 2004 presidential election, documented here. In their rousing endorsement of Sen. Kerry before the election:

Kerry recognizes that to prevail in the struggle against terrorism, America must return to the moral high ground rather than unilaterally pursue a perverted, narrow vision of its national interest. He would reverse Bush's devious dismantling of environmental protections, and he would preserve the safety net that protects America's most vulnerable citizens.

[Bush] has proved to be the most divisive, insular and partisan president since Richard Nixon. He ran as a moderate, but has pursued radical goals that have plunged the nation into debt and injected the government into the most personal of family matters. He promised to conduct foreign policy humbly, yet he repeatedly spurned allies, culminating in his arrogant and misguided rush to war on Iraq.

In their post-mortem, a profile in losing with grace:

Looking ahead, Bush faces an enormous, uphill struggle to keep Iraq from turning into a disaster. Should he fail, and should the right insist on trying to force-feed America its radical social agenda, the 2006 midterm elections could bring real congressional grief to the Republicans. This is still a centrist, tolerant society, and any effort to remake it into a conservative theocracy will bring swift, decisive repudiation.

Recall, they are addressing an audience where nearly half the electorate voted for that perverted, narrow, devious, insular, partisan, radical, arrogant, misguided theocrat.

Then there was this classic from the 2006 election cycle:

You've gotta hand it to Keith Ellison, Minneapolis' congressman-elect: He's not even in the House yet, and he's got wingnuts falling out of the trees on their empty heads.

One other egregious example I recall (citation lost to the firewall they put their archived work behind) concerned the University of Minnesota staging of a play called "The Pope and the Witch," a juvenile slam fest of the Catholic Church. It was a typically sophomoric production by a bunch of naďve college kids. Yet the Star Tribune chose to endorse the production from the lofty perch of the editorial page, dismissing any objections by saying they would "laugh along with it" and characterizing the Church as nothing more than a wealthy corporation. For no obvious purpose, they chose to go out of their way to kick the Church and its members in the teeth and laugh in their face about it.

Given appropriate access to their locked up electronic archives, one could go on and on with these examples. Conclusion being, these people were entrusted with a precious asset. Monopoly access to hundreds of thousands of interested citizens. People looking for, and willing to pay for, vital information of the day. And they threw it all away in order to vent their spleens and score petty, vindictive political points. Correspondingly, a generation of Minnesotans has lost all trust in them as a good-faith provider of information. It is a shameful legacy.

The fact that the Star Tribune editorial writers apparently won national awards for their work is evidence that this legacy isn't localized and how out of touch and narcissistic the profession has become. This doesn't give much hope that the next crew the Star Tribune brings in will be any better. But I'm just crazy enough to believe that somewhere in this country they can find a handful of smart, persuasive, engaging, good-natured, and likeable writers to fill the position. One unsolicited piece of advice, not limiting the potential pool of candidates to liberals alone would improve the odds of success significantly.

UPDATE: Another tip, this guy here, not a good candidate. Poor kid, it looks like he based his career preparation on the Star Tribune editorial model, and now he's entering the job market just as it's collapsing.


Thursday, September 06, 2007
There IS Such A Thing As A Stupid Question

This week's edition of local alternative weekly City Pages includes a Three Questions section with noted filmmaker Ken Burns. One of the four towns featured in Burns' upcoming World War II documentary The War is Luverne, Minnesota and he stopped off in the Twin Cities on his way to the world premier of the film in said town. City Pages' John Behling had the opportunity to direct the three queries at Burns and, based on the substance of the last question, it was one too many (for some reason this doesn't appear to be available on the CP web site):

CP: You've been working on this film for six years. What effect has the war in Iraq had on the way you approached World War II?

To his credit, Burns shut the door on Behling's hunt for a political angle rather abruptly:

KB: Very, very little; we did most of the shooting of the interviews with folks before we invaded Iraq...This film does not have a political agenda to it; it doesn't have a political axe to grind.

At that point, you can imagine Behling slapping his notebook shut. No more questions.


Thursday, August 23, 2007
A Mistake Anyone Could Make

This week's edition of the local "alternative" weekly City Pages includes a correction from their story last week on Who's to Blame? for the 35W bridge collapse. I can't find the correction on-line, but it boils down to the fact that they misidentified former US Senator Dave Durenberger as a Democrat rather than a Republican (if you search "Durenberger" on the City Pages web site you can find a link to the story that still contains the error even though the story itself has been corrected).

Considering some of the opinions expressed by Durenberger since he has left office, I think we can cut the gatekeepers and editors a little slack on this one.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Tom e-mails:

Do you think Nick Coleman (aka "Sperm Lucky"--my pet nick name for him) had this column in storage ready to be broken out in the event of a tragedy / accident / terrorist attack? It strikes me as formulaic even for him. Does anyone else think he has a collection "MadLib" Screeds in his drawer, ready to reproduce as needed?

Sperm Lucky's MadLib for the Day After Something Really Bad Happens

"Republican's are __________ (mean, evil, scum, all of the above). Yesterday's __________ (bridge collapse, plane flying into a skyscraper, cabin up nord being out of reach for the workin man) proves it. If only the Republican's had __________ (voted for higher taxes on the rich, voted for higher taxes on the rich, voted for higher taxes on the rich) this tragedy could have been averted. Yes, Republican's personify pure evil, but this is not a partisan outrage. I hear that some __________ (DFLer's, Progressive's, Communist's) think that the people should have some say in prioritizing how tax revenues are collected and spent. Back in Daddy's day, er, back in the day, __________ (Glorious, Glorious, Glorious) DFL leadership dictated to the masses how much of their wages they could have. This is what made Minnesota better than __________ (Alabama, Haiti, Texas). We need to get back to a time when the __________ (people, proletariat, workin folks) act like the indolent boobs they were then. You people are far too uppity--now look what you have done. Because of your __________ (Tax Payer's League, No New Taxes Pledges, voting for Republican's), people are dead--I hope that you __________ (are ashamed of yourselves, will know better next November, are ready to commit suicide) over this incident."

Since it has been rumored that Sperm Lucky recycles columns from his Pioneer Press days, is it really far off that columns are pre-written for various tragedies to capitalize on the political opportunities they might present?

Ready to cancel even the Sunday edition (sorry kids, no comics for you).


Friday, August 03, 2007
Crass News Travels Fast

While I drove through Northern Wisconsin late this morning, I was flipping around the AM radio dial looking for something listenable (the FM dial offered no alternative--after to listening to Wisconsin Public radio, I have a new appreciation for the production value, hosts, and programming of MPR). After a number of garden shows, for sale programs, farm reports, and poor excuses for political talk shows, I finally found Mr. Limbaugh. In the talk radio desert, I had reached an oasis.

He was talking about the bridge collapse and the way the "drive-by media" was covering it. I was pleasantly surprised to hear him mention local hack Nick Coleman's infamous screed from yesterday. Nick Coleman getting ripped by Rush? Life is indeed good.

During a break in the show, I turned over to another station just in time to catch an obscure nationally syndicated host (sounds like an oxymoron) going after Coleman as well. Nice to see him getting the attention he so richly deserves.


Thursday, August 02, 2007
No Time For Grief

It was nice to see that Nick Coleman waited until all the bodies had been recovered before using yesterday's tragedy as an opportunity to pen a crassly partisan political screed.

Oh wait, he didn't.

Class act that one is.

SP ADDS: I like this part, after condemning the governor by name for not raising taxes and later throwing in a jab at President Bush for good measure, he claims:

The outrage here is not partisan. It is general.

Ignore his 30 year tenure in the local papers trying to stir up outrage on purely partisan grounds. This time it's general. Actually, I'm sure he welcomes any Republicans who will join him in this rush to turn tragedy into political action, in order to elect a State Legistlature and Governor who will start approving more taxes immediately (despite the state budget SURPLUS we've already got). What party would those kind of people come from? Pure coincidence.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Sudden Collapse

The Don Shelby Credibility Bridge--spanning the divide between the local anchorman's ego and reality--collapsed without warning shortly before 10pm this evening. Preliminary indications are that a massive failure in Shelby's structural integrity led to the collapse.

About 6:45pm tonight on the way to a supper club, I got a call from my wife with the news that the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi in Minneapolis--a bridge that I crossed as recently as yesterday afternoon on my way to Wisconsin--had collapsed. At the restaurant, the TVs in the bar were tuned to the news and we caught all the horrific details.

Back at the motel, JB and I decided that we wanted to get as much of a local angle as possible. Since WCCO was the only Twin Cities station available, we reluctantly went with their coverage, despite our misgivings.

At first we were debating which was worse, having to listen to weatherman Paul Douglas or anchorman Don Shelby discuss structural engineering. It was obvious that neither had the slightest understanding of the subject, but both felt the need to blather on (or read notes handed to them) as if they were experts in the matter. Unfortunately for Douglas, the "storm" that was supposed to hit the area petered out and he was quickly shuffled to the side lines, a disappointing blow to his hopes of sharing the spotlight.

They left plenty of room for Shelby (and his ego) to take center stage. I'm not saying that Don Shelby wanted the bridge to collapse, but once it did, you could sense that he was reveling in the moment. This was his place. This was time. This was his moment to shine. This was his Emmy.

The man's self-importance knows no limits and it was on display for all to see this evening. At a time when the news coverage should have focused solely on rescue and recovery efforts, Shelby almost immediately launched into discussions about the possible causes of the collapse and where blame could be assigned. He was obviously getting all his information on bridge structures and engineering from other sources, but he rarely if ever mentioned them, giving the viewer the impression that HE DON SHELBY knew all about such matters and was able and willing to start drawing conclusions while the rubble was still settling. It was a disgusting display of arrogance with an almost total absence of wisdom.

For the record, according to JB's watch, the first attempt to connect the bridge collapse to politics occurred at 9:33pm--a scant three hours and twenty-eight minutes after the bridge went down--when Shelby began talking about how "some" people in the Congress had argued that we weren't spending enough on bridges and tunnel, a not-so-veiled inference to the Democratic talking points about the Bush administration's spending priorities. If only we hadn't provided tax cuts to the rich, the bridge might still be standing.

Shelby further embarrassed himself by trying to magnify the importance of arcane details from a 2001 safety report on the bridge to build up the impression that maybe the report had predicted the collapse. He also described the way the government contracted for such reports as "farming them out," scare words designed to conjure up images of outsourcing and privatization run amok. It was left up to a fresh faced reporter (an intern perhaps) to accurately explain and concisely summarize what the report did and did not say in a segment on the 10pm news. His manner was far more professional than anything Shelby was able to muster on this evening when a bridge collapsed and took with it the slim remains of an anchorman's integrity.


Thursday, July 26, 2007
Don't Try This At Home

My favorite quote from this week's City Page's piece on the decline of our local newspapers:

Alex Friedrich, a Pioneer Press reporter who sits on the union's bargaining committee, argues that the proposed changes would significantly undermine the newspaper's editorial integrity. "Do you really want some inexperienced freelancer covering a city council meeting?" he asks. "Ultimately, it's the people of these two cities who are going to have to live with the consequences."

My God, he's right! What will happen to our lives if (gasp) someone who hasn't been to J school, doesn't have an ear for baloney, and most all doesn't "know stuff" is allowed to cover a precious city council meeting? The end is indeed at hand.


Thursday, July 19, 2007
Free Par

The publisher of the Star Tribune, Par Ridder, has been accused of, and has admitted to, some questionable business practices. In his move from the Pioneer Press to the Star Tribune, he apparently violated certain non-compete agreements. And he allegedly absconded with some strategic, internal business information that would aid his new employer at the direct expense of his old. As a conservative, i.e., an adherent of fair play and the highest of ethics in business , that is decidedly not cool.

However ...

There's got to be something right about a guy who's enflamed such hatred in the local journalism community. The journalist union at the Star Tribune recently voted 110 - 2 to call for the resignation of their boss. A bold move for a bunch of people in a floundering industry about to start negotiations on a new contract. (To pass along some ancient advice, if you're going to try and kill the king, better make sure you kill the king.)

Their statement:

We, the journalists of the Star Tribune, call on Par Ridder to resign as publisher," the resolution said. "We believe the unethical actions to which he admitted in court have damaged the Star Tribune's credibility and integrity and undermined our ability to hold public figures accountable for their actions. For the good of the Star Tribune and the community it serves, we believe he should step down.

Please. Par Ridder's antics damaging the "credibility and integrity" of the Star Tribune is like saying the ocean floor damaged the hull of the Titanic.

Liberal media columnist Brian Lambert has been documenting (and reveling in) the enmity local journalists feel toward the man. He recently recounted some of his experiences working under Ridder at the Pioneer Press:

One of the two occasions I had the good fortune to listen to Mr. Ridder up close -- prior to his court appearances, I mean -- was a "Business Literacy"-Lite gathering he held for the staff of the Pioneer Press A&E section back in 2004. At one point he explained how he believed it was a good idea to steer the Pioneer Press Op-Ed page into "a conservative alternative to the Star Tribune."

Hmmm. That is an excellent idea. I wish I'd have come up with that. Wait a minute, I did. From August 2004:

Newspapers are my favorite medium and to get a local one providing a counterbalancing voice to the unyielding yammering of liberal ideology expressed in this town day in and day out? It would be nothing short of exquisite, for me and the other tens of thousands of conservatives in this increasingly 50-50 state and metro area. Such a move is also good business, particularly for the weaker sister in this tandem.

Also from Lambert, this report on Ridder's opinion on newspaper endorsements:

Par was explicit, I'm told, in seeing no good reason for the Star Tribune to continue making presidential endorsements.

Flashback to me, from October, 2004:

With the election fast approaching we are now entering the season of candidate endorsements by the local papers. In my humble opinion, one of the low points of the year for journalism.

Of all the quarrels and quibbles we have with the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press, there's no more alienating event for the readership (specifically the Conservative segment) than reading the official institutional judgment on who we should be voting for. From on high, these self-selected experts on politics decree the right man for the job.

And at that moment, every dime you ever spent on that paper's subscription or patronizing its advertisers, feels like icy, bitter self-betrayal. Your local paper, as an institution, wraps it's arms and legs around a candidate you may despise and tells you and the world to vote for him. It doesn't get any more lonely than that for the dissenting news consumer.

This is getting eerie. Has anyone ever seen Par Ridder and me in the same room at the same time? I don't think so!

No, I am not Par Ridder. We just happen to be the two brightest young media executives, and visionaries, in this town.

If the palace coup succeeds in dumping him from his perch at the Star Tribune, rest assured, Par will always have a home with us at Fraters Libertas. Here's a vision for you, the Ridder Family fortune bankrolling the efforts (and six figure contributor salaries) of this fine web site. Sounds like the beginning of a beautiful relationship.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007
How Much Would An Up Chuck Chuck Up?

One of the more insidious ways that newspapers further a left wing agenda is through the seemingly innocent human interest feature piece.

Under the guise of just "telling a story" the reader is emotionally manipulated into thinking the anecdotes written about are representative of a situation.

Like immigration. Last week, Chuck Haga wrote a piece on how great it is that Burnsville is getting less white. Now a fair piece might go into both good and bad repercussions of a huge influx of people from various and sundry third world countries where there is often no such thing as free speech, the rule of law, private property or running water who don't speak English moving into a community where those things are taken for granted. Nope, instead we are treated to a child-like slice of life that shows just how wonderful our new neighbors are.

Nothing tells the story of the changing suburbs like numbers from the Burnsville schools, where nearly one student in eight -- 1,229 of 10,339 -- has a limited proficiency in English.

Grab yer wallets residents of Burnsville, teaching remedial English aint cheap. And expect your kids' test scores to drop as the school district takes focus and dollars away from more advanced subjects.

"The community itself only has a history of 40 or 45 years," said Ben Kanninen, the district superintendent. "In the past 10 years, they've seen demographic change far more rapid than anything they saw in the first 30 years."

Change has not come without problems, but difference is increasingly seen as the norm, said Kay Joyce, principal at Burnsville High School.

"Change has not come without problems..." Like what? Why doesn't Chuck tell us what some of the problems are? Are there fights with other students? Vandalism? Increased pressure on budgets due to a lack of English speaking? We don't know because Chuck doesn't think we should know.

And what the hell does "...but difference is increasingly seen as the norm" mean, in, err...English? The first part of the sentence talked about "problems" then "difference." Are problems viewed as diversity in the Burnsville district?

"It's not unusual at all now to see a student of color voted in as homecoming king or queen or as captain of an athletic team," she said. "In the elementary grades, especially, it's what they all know."

Kanninen agrees. "There are people who resist change -- any change -- and there are individuals for whom this is a bad thing," he said.

So don't you dare question what is happening in any way taxpayer. You don't want to be seen as being resistant to any kind of change and if you do you clearly have psychological problems.

Chuck now really starts to lay it on thick as he sharpens his Noble, Kind, Generous Immigrant arrows and zings them directly for our syrupy hearts. He begins to describe the family:

Still, the decision to leave wasn't easy.

"Leaving parents, that is hard," Ajayi said, and as he spoke, Marriam began to cry.
"We lived with both of our mothers," he said, reaching to comfort his wife. "We have cousins who are getting married this year. We would have been the key people for them to have at their weddings."

Africa remains in her brother's memory. He remembers the fragrant bean cakes called akara that his grandmother made especially for him. He misses her, and he misses her bean cakes.
"I miss my grandfathers," he said, softly but with weight, as if he were talking about the sun and the moon. "They were there, and I loved them."

Ummm..."As if he were talking about the sun and the moon"? Immigrants in articles like this are never just normal people, they are always mystical, deep, profound intellectual thinkers who we should all learn to be more like.

A sophomore at Burnsville High last school year, trim and fit, Peter says he may try out for the soccer team next year. He's good at math and wants to be a computer programmer.

Aren't most 15 year olds trim and fit?

Dipo is a gentle, courtly man, proud of his degrees and the professional reputation he established in Africa.

He is a man of strong faith -- he is pastor of a small nondenominational church in St. Paul -- and that faith extends to his new life in this new land.

Is this a PR piece or a news article?

Chuck must have known he was getting pretty over the top his own obsequiousness to this immigrant family, so he quotes the dad's boss:

After three months of study, he obtained the necessary credentials and landed a job with Met Life in Bloomington. He now works in insurance and investments at New England Financial, a Met Life company in Minnetonka.

"Dipo has a work ethic and attitude that surpasses that of most people," said Carol Schulstad, his supervisor. He is a model for achieving "good balance to his life," she said, and his story connects him with a growing segment of the Twin Cities population.

Can you imagine the management of New England Financial's joy when presented with this perfect opportunity for their own self-aggrandizement? What an opportunity to show themselves to be such caring, open-minded people?

Everybody wins with diversity!


Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Get to Know 'Em

Things may be improving for the Twins on the field of late, but it looks like there are some disturbing trends in the broadcast booth:

[Manager Ron Gardenhire] met with team President Dave St. Peter on Saturday, expressing frustration with comments made on KSTP following Friday's game. Talk host Dave Thompson, who came on after the Twins' postgame show, made reference to the 10-game suspension Rincon received in May 2005 for violating baseball's policy on performance-enhancing drugs and suggested Rincon hasn't been the same.

"It's been talked about, and it's being addressed," Gardenhire said. "We've had our say with our president, and he's going to take care of it. He's going to talk to them. "They're supposed to be with us. And some of the things that were said were uncalled for and wrong."

What do the Twins expect when they leave their long time broadcast partner WCCO to link up with a station employing notorious shock jocks like Dave Thompson?

He's not the only one attracting the attention of the Twins' Department of Official Information:

Before batting practice, Gardenhire also talked with KSTP color analyst Jack Morris about a question Morris asked Nick Punto following Friday's game. Morris asked Punto about the team trying to give the bullpen work in relief of Johan Santana. But Morris stressed Saturday that he wasn't second-guessing the decision to pull Santana with 91 pitches and a shutout bid.

With all the time and effort the manager is forced to devote to controlling the speech of KSTP radio announcers, it's a wonder he has any time to actually watch the ballgames. With multi-tasking ability like that, he has to be the leading candidate for manager of the year.

(The above paragraph will be attached to the resume I send to KSTP for the job openings I expect once their purging of counterrevolutionary thinkers takes place).

At the very least, Gardenhire seems to have a bright future with the FCC as a speech monitor, once the Fairness Doctrine kicks in.

I wonder if KSTP knew when they agreed to pay the Twins $1 million a year AND forfeit 100% of all advertising revenue during the broadcasts to the team for the privilege of broadcasting their games that they were throwing in their broadcasting soul as well? It was probably in the fine print.

I hate to see what was in the fine print when Hennepin County agreed to give the Twins a third of a billion for the privilege of having them play games inside their geographical boundaries.

BTW, Thompson's speculation about Rincon is entirely reasonable. Beyond the overwhelming anecdotal evidence, his stats reveal a clear drop off in performance, pre-suspension (2004) compared to post (2005 and onward). Is it possible that this could be related to his being prohibited from taking illegal "performance enhancing" drugs, 2005 and onward? Inconceivable!

I just hope my outrageous commentary here today doesn't find its way to the Twins executive suite and they ban me from capitalizing on dollar hot dog night next time I'm at the Dome.


This "they're supposed to be with us" garbage is what makes the Twins broadcasters so incredibly whitebread, banal, sycophantic and just BORING!

The Twin Plug Sporters on the TV side of things, Dick Bremer and "Circle Me Bert" are waaay worse than their radio brethren. There is never a negative word about the Twins, OR their opponents.

The other day I was watching a game and Bremer felt it necessary to do a Barreiro-esque "Now it's easy for me to say, since I'm not out there, but..." followed by the mildest criticism on a fielding play. Get some stones, Dick!

There seems to be a philosophy along the lines of "If you haven't played the game, you can't say anything negative about the players and if you DID play the game, you still consider yourself one of the guys still and don't want to upset them."

It makes for some dull television watching.


Thursday, June 28, 2007
Real Diversity

In a piece on whether journalists should make political contributions, the Strib's Neil Justin sounds a common-sense call for greater diversity in the newsroom:

But instead of curtailing journalists' freedoms, we'd be better off increasing diversity in the newsroom. That means encouraging more young conservatives to join the profession, to be active members in the newsroom, to have their voices heard when important decisions are made. If as many journalists attended an antiabortion rally as an abortion-rights one, it'd be harder to accuse the media of bias.

Bingo. Instead of trying pretend that journalists aren't partisan, why not work toward correcting the roughly 9 to 1 imbalance that currently exists in the media?

On the subject of the pretense of objectivity, Justin includes this knee-slapper from straight-down-the-middle Don Shelby:

"Under no circumstances is it ever right for a journalist to make a contribution to any politician, ever. As soon as you do, you have taken a side and you begin pulling for that person. You're going to try to do whatever for your party to win. For the longest time, I argued that we shouldn't vote, but I changed my mind in recent years after getting mad at the fact that not enough people were voting."


Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Afflicting the Factual

On Sunday, Syl Jones was afforded his normal position on the prime real estate of the Star Tribune editorial page, this time to address the implications of the Duke non-rape case.

The pre-eminent information resource on this case, KC Johnson at Durham in Wonderland, took notice. As usual, when Syl's opinions meet with the facts, something has to give. Conclusion:

And even if Nifong, Jones concludes:

"deserves to be punished, he was right about one thing: Something did happen at that frat boy party at Duke University ... Too bad Nifong didn't do his job and home in on exactly what that something was."
Too bad Jones didn't do the job of an op-ed columnist and explain precisely what the "something" that happened was.

It's also too bad a blogger in North Carolina is forced to do the job Star Tribune editors refuse to.

More freelance editing here, from a Duke student.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Picking Up The Pieces

So reporter Eric Black, recently released by the Star Tribune in their cost-cutting purge, has joined the likes of Jeff Fecke and is now going to be writing for Minnesota Monitor and starting his own blog? Makes sense I guess.

We understand that if Lileks hadn't found a new bucket at the Strib, there was an agreement in principle for him to sign on at Nihilist In Golf Pants. And then there's our open offer--made at JB's behest--for Doug Grow to join the staff here at Fraters Libertas.

Our salary package is standard in the blogging industry (unlike MinnMon, we're still waiting for the day when our sugar daddy comes in), but the benefits are what really sets us apart. We hope that Doug decides it's time to make a brand new start.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007
You Get What You Pay For

Star Tribune Provides More Bad News (WSJ sub req):

It looks like Star Tribune was cheap for a reason.

The $530 million Avista Capital Partners paid for the owner of the Minneapolis newspaper this year equated to a bargain-basement 6.5 times cash flow.

This Wall Street Journal story from January called it a "gutsy" move by the private-equity firm, given that the paper, the 15th-largest in the country, stands out for its poor performance in a poor performing industry.

Late word from Standard & Poor's Leveraged Commentary & Data seems to bear out the old adage that you get what you pay for. According to S&P (a division separate from the ratings group), so-called first-lien debt of the closely held company tumbled to as low as 96 cents on the dollar following a conference call with credit investors to discuss the company's recent performance. That's a whopping 3-cent move that puts the paper at a level usually reserved for companies in distress. (Trouble the company was already having is evident in this Wall Street Journal story last month detailing plans to slash jobs.)

Bankers for Tribune, the Chicago newspaper company not to be confused with Star Tribune, are likely to be watching what's going on in Minneapolis carefully. That's because, as this recent WSJ story makes clear, the publisher is looking for financing to back its own $8.2 billion takeover. Tribune already had a hard time selling the first $7 billion it needed to fund the deal, and the $4 billion in loans and bonds it still needs to sell are looking like a taller order now.

As the story, and this post we did yesterday indicates, as easy as it is to get credit investors to part with cash these days, there's an increasing number of companies with disappointing results. And in those cases, the credit markets aren't quite so easy these days.

We were unable to get a quick comment from Star Tribune.

Probably because the ladies in the phone room are all gone.


Thursday, May 31, 2007
Accuracy In Media?

One of the first lessons that every cub reporter has drilled into their heads of mush is to at least get the names right. It's one of the cornerstones of journalism. If you can't trust someone to get the names right, can you trust anything they write?

Yesterday, self-proclaimed "journalist" Jeff Fecke commented on a Power Line post on the Duke lacrosse team at his Blog of the Moderate Left and managed to make a mockery of naming names.

He begins with:

So the Blogger Formerly Known as St. Paul...

[McLaughlin voice]


[/McLaughlin voice]

The Power Line post that Fecke is referencing was penned by one Paul Mirengoff. To my knowledge he has never gone by the nickname St. Paul and something tells me that wouldn't be his religious moniker of choice. In the past, he did blog under the pseudonym "Deacon."

A few paragraphs later Fecke stumbles again:

Johnson comes back to the argument...

Johnson? He must mean Scott Johnson, who also posts at Power Line. Fecke goes on to incorrectly identify Johnson as the author four more times in his post.

Now, I'm not a "journalist" like Jeff pretends to be, but I've noticed that if you look carefully at the bottom of every Power Line post you'll see the words "Posted by" followed by the name of the guy who wrote the post. Just a hint to help Jeff's future endeavors in "journalism."

UPDATE: After a comment from our own JB Doubtless, Fecke has corrected his errors. Apparently, it was all just an "accident" you see. With classic buck passing like that, maybe he does have a future in journalism after all. Kate Parry better watch her back.

UPDATE II-- Ted e-mails:


I see you've discovered the rich source of material that is Jeff Fecke. Please note the hillarious response he provided to your colleague, Fred, who commented on the post you mentioned on SCSU Scholars today:

Sorry--in typing things up, I accidentally id'd him as St. Paul instead of Deacon. I've made the correction. I mean, I can understand why you guys wouldn't want to be identified with Powerline.

It never fails to amuse me that this Woman's History major / shipping and receiving clerk thinks he has anywhere near the intellectual heft or gravity of two international law firm partners and a bank senior vice president.

Why would anyone want to be associated with Powerline?

Indeed, why would anyone want to be associated with that lying, disingenuous turd Fecke?


Thursday, May 24, 2007
Something's Got To Give?

Since I've spent most of my reading life in the Twin Cities, my exposure to the workings of local daily newspapers has been somewhat limited. The Star, The Tribune, The Star Tribune, and The St. Paul Pioneer Press are about the extent of it.

So I'm not sure how unusual the current situation at the Strib regarding Rachel Paulose, the US attorney for Minnesota, really is. In my own experiences, I can't recall anything quite like it.

On the one hand, you have Nick Coleman--local conservative bloggers' favorite punching bag--devoting no less than FOUR of his Star Tribune columns to largely baseless attacks against Paulose. On the other, you have his soon-to-be-only fellow Metro columnist Katherine Kersten writing today on The real Rachel Paulose:

By now, you must have heard of Rachel Paulose, the United States attorney for Minnesota. Critics suggest that she's barely qualified to be an assistant prosecutor in Podunk. And at 34, she's still wet-behind-the ears.

On top of that, detractors charge, Paulose is a partisan hack and a Bible-thumping evangelical Christian. They suspect that Karl Rove, that malevolent puppeteer, is pulling the strings to ensure that she dances to a militant Republican tune. How did someone so unsuitable become U.S. attorney? She didn't. Because that's not who Rachel Paulose is.

Now Kersten doesn't directly mention Coleman in her column, but he's been leading the charge against Paulose in the local media. Some of the words that Coleman has directly used or inferred to describe Paulose in his four columns on her:

"unqualified" "not ready for prime time" "archconservative" "fervent Christian" "callow" "ideological" "incapable" "partisan loyalist" "inexperienced" "incompetent"

Clearly Kersten's column in intended as a sharp rebuke to Coleman, even if it doesn't call him out by name. Coleman and Kersten have mixed it up before, but never in such an obvious manner. Again, my experience in this area is limited, but I wonder how common is it for a paper to have two columnists (on the same beat no less) essentially going at each other with hammer and tongs over a sensitive, highly charged political matter like this? I can't recall anything similar occurring in the pages of our local newspapers before.

Mind you, I'm not complaining about this. It's refreshing to have a voice like Kersten's counter the BS that Coleman has been spreading and in the pages of the same paper no less. I can only imagine what Coleman's reaction was to today's column (heh, heh). From what I've heard, Nick's not exactly the most even-tempered, easy-going guy in town.

However, I wonder how long the paper's powers that be are going to let this little interacine war of words play out. If they were smart (insert joke here), they'd let it go for a while. Nothing like a little conflict to attract attention and sell papers ("Coleman-Kersten battle continues, read all about it!"). They could run online polls on who has the upper hand, let readers chime in with e-mails and letters, and maybe even schedule a live debate between the two scribes.

But given the standard newspaper industry response, they'll probably ban both of them from writing further on the matter and schedule a meeting with a conflict facilitator so Coleman and Kersten can work out their issues and become better team players.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Par For The Course

The recent changes at the Strib--now under the stewardship of one Par Ridder--have some folks wishfully thinking that perhaps better days lie ahead for the newspaper, especially its editorial pages. However, according to people familiar with Ridder's stint at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, it seems unlikely if he has the instincts and acumen necessary to turn things around.

One of the areas that the Pioneer Press had long prided itself on was its coverage of the Capitol. They owned the statehouse, which made sense since it was in their backyard. But when Ridder arrived, he decided that St. Paul wasn't really much of a political town. No, readers didn't care about what happened at the Capitol, they were much more interested in the latest "buzz" out of Woodbury.

Accordingly, he reassigned many of the Capitol reporters to suburban beats. Forget about St. Paul, we need to find out what's going on Stillwater seemed to be Ridder's view. He even went so far as to pass on items that his wife had discussed with her bridge group as possible story ideas. No offense to bridge fans out there, but stories that seem interesting at the bridge table don't necessarily appeal to a wider audience.

One of the keys to running a successful businesses is understanding what your core is and making sure that you're the best at it. Ridder clearly didn't understand that the Capitol was core to the Pioneer Press. Instead, he went chasing suburban stories that were probably already being adequately covered by local community papers and had little reach to the broader readership that the paper was after anyway. Not exact;y a display of the sort of news judgment that bodes well for the success of his tenure at the Strib.


Thursday, May 10, 2007
The Final Quirk

I think James Lileks is one of the finest writers in the country, but I never read his Star Tribune column The Quirk. It was too short and topics too domesticized to make it a destination site. The Star Tribune's unremitting, shrill partisan bent long ago chased me away from delving into its pages and randomly stumbling on it. So I kind of forgot about it.

Today was his final installment of the Quirk and I get the sense I might have been missing something the past few years.

I love this place, and I always wanted to be a Star Tribune humorist. It's a narrow goal, like wanting to be the President's barber -- great objective, but not exactly a career bursting with openings. But I set my mind to it; I had a plan, and after years of patient work I perfected my set of Uncle Al Sicherman facial protheses. They found out. But they admired my pluck. Charges were dropped. Years later, I was hired, and I've been honored to converse with you here ever since.

It's not like I'm entering a witness-protection program. Everything you liked about the Quirk can be found at, where I write a famously interminable daily column called the Bleat. But newspapers are special, I know. Nothing will take the place of this.

Just in case you're curious: My Quirk allotment was always 300 words. It was always a point of professional pride to hit 300 words on the nose. Hmm: almost there. Very well, then:

Child says hello. And from me: Goodbye. And thanks!

How can the people who nixed him not feel lousy after that? That's the kind of revenge only a talented writer can pull off. Reassign me, will you? Prepare to experience melancholy regret!

A class act all the way too. Contrast that with editorial page deputy editor Jim Boyd's pathetic lashing out with his final breaths and you see what character is. If only Boyd would have been limited to 300 daily words on shopping at Target and Lileks could have ran the editorial page, that might have been a paper worth reading. Ah, what might have been.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Out From Under The Strib's Bushel

J.D. e-mails on Lileks:

I think your take on Lileks is correct; he will be better off elsewhere. I always wondered about the odd compartmentalizing that must have been involved in cranking out inoffensive Quirks, while letting it all hang out with the Bleats. It would have been much more interesting to publish James's critiques of Garrison Keillor's Old Scout pieces, for example--a sort of point counterpoint that would have generated some much-needed buzz for the wheezy old Strib and showcased the two most notable local humorists. (Of course, the Old Scout is more dyspeptic than humorous, but you know what I mean.) I guess they don't think that way at the paper, not when Nick Coleman finds the appearance of a single conservative columnist to be an intolerable product of the "right wing noise machine," rather than a desperately needed different point of view.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007
A Win Win

My quick two cents on Lileks' column being canned is that it's probably going to be best for him in the long run. Whether it was the Back Fence or the Quirk, the Strib just never seemed to know how to take advantage of Lileks' talent as a writer. After I cancelled my subscription to the Strib a few years back, I never really made much of an effort to read his work in the paper. Why settle for a watered down version when I could get the real thing at the Bleat or, to a much greater extent than in the Strib, in his Newhouse columns? I'm sure that someone will understand that you need to just let Lileks be Lileks and he will find a much more friendly place to hang his hat (although it will no doubt be a virtual hat rack.)

It also shows that the new captains of the Strib seem to be no more likely to right the ship than the previous crew. While it may seem hard to believe, the quality of the paper will only get worse from here on out. Which will mean more defections among staff, advertisers, and subscribers. The Strib will matter less and less in the daily lives of Minnesotans and that can only be a good thing.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Bluer Shade of Lileks

If Lileks ever committed himself to bathroom humor, his next book might look something like this.


Monday, April 23, 2007
If Only It Were True

Group plans to spend millions on anti-tax message:

ST. PAUL--The Taxpayers League of Minnesota plans to spend tens of millions of dollars to tell Minnesotans that Democrats want to raise taxes.

While I would be thrilled at the prospect of the The Taxpayers League flooding the local media with a multi-million dollar anti-tax ad campaign, something tells that Don Davis--the Minn. Captial Bureau Chief for Forum Communications who reported this story--is adding at least one, probably two zeros to the actual campaign figures.

In the unlikely event that it's true that David Strom's organization has coffers overflowing with millions and millions of dollars, I'm going to have to start being a lot nicer to him on Saturday mornings at the studio.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Eyes Off The Prize

Spring is here. A time when a newspaper man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of Pulitzer Prizes. Yes folks, the Zodiac has once again come around and once again it's time to look to Jim, our vaunted Pulitzer Prize reporter, for his report on how the Minneapolis Star Tribune fared when the Pulitzer hardware was being passed out. (You can also read Jim's previous Pulitzer pieces from 2006, 2005, and 2004).

For the last couple of years we've had a bit of fun at the Star Tribune's expense when the Pulitzer Prizes have been announced, pointing out how many years it has been since their one (1) prize in 1990. I guess we all knew that the trend couldn't last forever. A large and politically correct newspaper like the Strib was bound to stumble upon a Pulitzer eventually. Although they've ruined our fun, we are big enough to extend our congratulations to the Star Tribune on their Pulitzer win this year. We are also forced to admit that their in-depth investigation into the "flying Imam" story is indeed worthy of the many accolades it has received.

Ha, ha, no. Had you going there for a second, I bet (at least until the "flying Imam" part anyway). No, of course the Star Tribune hasn't won a Pulitzer, and certainly not for their coverage of the flying Imams. For the seventeenth consecutive year, the Star Tribune has been found lacking by their peers (not even a single finalist this year). There is good news for former Strib editor Anders Gyllenhaal. His new paper, the Miami Herald, won the local reporting Pulitzer (for a series published several months before Gyllenhaal became editor). I hope the Herald savors that win.

Here is the list of newspapers with less circulation than the Star Tribune, but with more than the Strib's one Pulitzer. Congratulations to the Birmingham (Alabama) News for winning their second Pulitzer and moving past the Star Tribune.

Newsday (19)
Boston Globe (19)
Miami Herald (18)
Baltimore Sun (13)
Portland Oregonian (7)
Seattle Times (7)
Louisville Courier Journal (7)
St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times (6)
Christian Science Monitor (6)
Kansas City Star (6)
Sacramento Bee (5)
Des Moines Register (5)
New Orleans Times-Picayune (4)
Atlanta Journal and Constitution (4)
Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader (3)
Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal (3)
St. Paul Pioneer Press (3)
Village Voice (3)
Birmingham (Ala.) News (2)
Hartford (Conn.) Courant (2)
Seattle Post-Intelligencer (2)
Newark Star-Ledger (2)
Albuquerque Journal (2)
Arizona Republic (2)
Cleveland Plain Dealer (2)
Dayton (Ohio) Daily News (2)
Indianapolis Star (2)
Lawrence (Mass.) Eagle-Tribune (2)
Memphis Commercial Appeal (2)
Raleigh (N.C.) News and Observer (2)
Orange County Register (2)
Philadelphia Daily News (2)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (2)
Providence Journal-Bulletin (2)

Here is an updated list of the Star-Tribune's Pulitzer Peers. (However, all of these newspapers have won their Pulitzer more recently).

Ames (Ia.) Daily Tribune
Asbury Park Press, Neptune NJ
Biloxi (Ala.) Sun Herald
Boston Phoenix
Cincinnati Enquirer
Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald
Great Falls (Mont.) Tribune
* LA Weekly
Riverdale (N.Y.) Press
Rutland (Vt.) Herald
San Diego Union-Tribune
Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press Democrat
Toledo Blade
Virgin Islands Daily News (St. Thomas)
White Plains (N.Y.) Journal News
Willamette Week (Portland Oregon)

* New StarTribune Pulitzer Peer

Skunked again? If only there were some interesting stories around these parts...


Friday, March 23, 2007
A Convenient Fool

The great thing about reading Brian Lambert is that you don't have to wait months, weeks, or even days for him to contradict himself and expose his utter foolishness. No, the former-MSMer (now writing for the free monthly "The Rake," which is sort of an assisted-living home for former "City Pages" writers), who wishes that everyone who disagrees with him on global climate change would just shut the hell up, makes it easy for us by displaying his incongruous thinking within the space of a single paragraph:

To Sherno's credit he inserts a clip of the crackpot, "Global Warming is a Fraud", (not exact title), movie the wingnut wants St. Louis Park to show ... as balance. He also points out that ... no surprise here ... the winger hasn't bothered to see, "An Inconvenient Truth", (yet flatly asserts it is partisan, politically motivated, yadda yadda, insert the usual talking points).

Let me get this straight: In one breath, Lambert is criticizing me for daring to form an opinion about "An Inconvenient Truth" without having seen it (although I did sit through an hour-long PowerPoint presentation on C-SPAN questioning much of it) and in the next he labels the "The Great Global Warming Swindle" as "crackpot" without even bothering to get the name right (it's called "Google" dude), to say nothing of actually watching it?

One could write:

...the moonbat hasn't bothered to see, "The Great Global Warming Swindle," (yet flatly asserts it is crackpot, yadda yadda, insert the usual talking points).

If you read Lambert's entire post, you'll also note that he uses the term "wingnut" or "winger" five times (bringing back fond memories of his days as a sidekick on the Nick Coleman Show). As a former newspaper writer and ex-talk radio host, one would think that Lambert would have developed a more extensive vocabulary. Perhaps after he figures out how to use this new fangled "Google" thing, he can get some help in that area as well. After all, people do judge you by the words you use.


Thursday, March 22, 2007
She's Grown Up Before Our Eyes

Democratic Representative Betty McCollum bids a fond adieu to some old friends:

Last week, we received news that the Minneapolis Star Tribune's two Washington correspondents will be taking other assignments as a result of the paper's change in ownership. I want to thank Rob Hotakainen and Kevin Diaz for more than 20 years of service each with the Star Tribune and wish them well in their new assignments.

Seems like an awfully cozy relationship between the government and the press there . When the people who are supposed to be afflicted by the press are going out of their way to thank them for their fine performance, you have to get a little suspicious. Let's just say I don't expect to hear reports of Michele Bachmann and John Kline sending cookie bouquets to them any time soon.

But the departure of the current batch of Star Tribune reporters doesn't mean the good times will end for Rep. McCollum and the rest our DFL Congressional contingent:

I and the rest of the Minnesota congressional delegation look forward to working with the Star Tribune's intern, Brady Averill, who will now be responsible for covering the news from our nation's capitol.

I'm sure they do. I must say that's an interesting choice for the Star Tribune in terms of covering our nation's capitol. At the very least, it should make for an interesting business card: Brady Averill, Star Tribune Intern and Washington Bureau Chief.

It seems like only a year and four months ago, Chad and I were perched on barstools at Keegan's getting interviewed by a pleasant, fresh-faced, young journalism student and intern from the Pioneer Press named Brady Averill. No doubt some grizzled yet savvy editor heard a rumor that "blogging" was the next big thing and he dispatched his ablest, most promising underpaid employee (not including Craig Westover), to get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

I don't want to rehash all the gory details (which were freshly hashed for you back in December of '05). Suffice it to say, the process and end product were less than confidence-building for the fifth estate. An unfocused, superficial interview yielding an article with errors of commission, omission, and a documented partisan bias. Granted, she was just a student, learning the ropes. And that effort was probably good enough for an A- at the local journalism schools.

She does get bonus points for finding a way to jam in a quote from Media Golden Rolodex Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Professor Larry Jacobs, on why blogs can't compete with newspapers:.

Along with partisanship, credibility is another problem for blogs. There's nothing in the First Amendment about the need for an editor. Bloggers can write anything they want; they can spout fact or fiction. [U of MN Professor Larry Jacobs] advises readers to beware: "There's no gatekeeping here."

That quote of course was the genesis of the NARN sensation "This Week In Gatekeeping" so perhaps we owe her a little bit of gratitude (and probably thousands in royalties once our Showtime special debuts later this year).

My summation of that article written by the future Star Tribune Washington Bureau Chief:

I suppose it's hard to work in any depth or understanding or balance into an 831 word article, which is all Brady Averill is allowed to provide. But it's this kind of easy, cheap lunch the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press have served up for years. This town deserves better from its newspapers.

But that's just my opinion. I'm sure the likes of Betty McCollum will continue to be thrilled.


Friday, March 09, 2007
This Won't Be Their Year

Jim, our long-time Pulitzer Prize correspondent, is on the beat again this year and, according to this preview, it looks like the Star Tribune is once again conspicuously absent from the list of nominees:

Editor and Publisher has come up with a list of this year's Pulitzer Prize finalists
in 8 of 14 categories.
[Now updated to ten of fourteen] Yep, no nominees from the Strib. As your Strib/Pulitzer correspondent I felt I should report on this, even though the official post taunting the Strib won't come out until the Pulitzers are officially announced in April.

For a few years now, Fraters Libertas has been following the Star Tribune's futile effort to add another Pulitzer Prize to their trophy case to go with their very lonely 1990 award. It has got to be just grating on the Strib editors (those still remaining, anyway) to watch much smaller papers like the Rutland (VT) Herald, Grand Forks (ND) Herald, Great Falls (MT) Tribune, Santa Rosa (CA) Democrat, and the Albuquerque Journal equal or surpass their Pulitzer count. Especially when you consider that the primary prerequisites for a Pulitzer seem to be extreme leftism and reasonable competence (and we all know that the Strib isn't deficient in the extreme leftism department). Thus, every spring the Strib must hope against hope that this will be the year the Pulitzer jury throws them a bone.

Well, better luck next year.

Editor and Publisher has compiled a list (leaked from sources on the judging panel) of this year's Pulitzer finalists in eight of the fourteen journalism categories. Veteran Strib/Pulitzer watchers will not be shocked to learn that none of the finalists are from the Star Tribune.

The good news for the Strib is that most of this year's nominees are from papers that are well ahead of them on the Pulitzer tote board. The Birmingham News does have a shot at winning their second Pulitzer and surging past the Strib, but they are a long shot to beat out the Wall Street Journal in the Public Service category (the Journal is a finalist for their work on exposing the backdated stock options scandal, which occurred largely in the Strib's own backyard).

But, all hope is not lost. There are still six categories that have not been leaked. Unfortunately, "Best Editorial Plagiarized From The New Yorker" is not one of them.


Friday, February 16, 2007
When Susan Met Al

Susan Lenfestey is the local raging DFL activist the Star Tribune has tapped for monthly editorials, known for such wisdom as:

But it's George Bush's lack of public morality that's on display in "Fahrenheit 9/11." We see him profiting from his family's old and oily ties to the Bin Laden family and from his cozy cheek-to-cheek relationship with his father's corporate cronies.


President Bush's actions at home - the merging of religion and government, the dismantling of environmental protections, the cold shoulder to children living on the margins, the short shrift to civil liberties, and the new round of Bush toadies appointed to the Cabinet, just to name a few, have indeed stripped away most of my bark. But it's Iraq that leaves me bare.

If being a liberal is to despair over the futility of winning a war while savaging a nation, creating a democracy while humiliating a culture, and smashing terrorism while infusing it with new fervor, then call me a liberal, peeled of all bark and yes, utterly miserable.

She sounds like a fun gal. A good conversationalist to invite to your next dinner party. At least she is if you're a candidate for the DFL nomination for the Senate.

Sometimes it take an Australian to alert us to a summit meeting of Democratic minds right here in Minneapolis. Ladies and gentlemen, the dinner party of Al Franken and Susan Lenfestey.

Last night I had dinner with Al and Franni. Yeah, Franken. A bunch of folks were invited to their house to "hear his ideas" on the eve of his announcement that he's running for the US Senate, for the seat once occupied by Paul Wellstone and currently occupied by the oily keister of Norm "I'm-a-99-percent- improvement-over-Paul-Wellstone" Coleman.

Again with the oily fixation. Do I detect a bad experience involving some Oxy 10 in years past?

Other highlights:

Well, the serious, cleaned-up Al Franken is very impressive

As opposed to the Al Franken we've been subjected to for the past 30 years.

Its almost scary to see how much is churning in that big head of his.

A subtle reference to Franken hurling after dinner?

When asked his greatest area of vulnerability, he said it was that he cares too much.

I see Franken has been studying his Great Answers to Job Interview Questions manual. Other acceptable answers to that question are "I'm a perfectionist" and "I work too hard."

His study seems to have paid off, as far as Susan Lenfestey is concerned, he's hired:

for now the front-runner is Al Franken, and for now I'm impressed.

If only Franken can count on the majority of Minnesotans having the keen judgment of Susan Lenfestey, he's in.


Thursday, January 04, 2007
Hitting To All Fields

Pawlenty radio show to return to air:

Gov. Tim Pawlenty will resume his weekly radio show on WCCO-AM this Friday.

Pawlenty halted the show, "Good Morning, Minnesota," in June after announcing his reelection bid. Political opponents objected to the free air time he was getting.

WCCO (830 AM), which had run the show from February 2003 until it was suspended, beat out two other stations -- KTLK (100.3 FM), which airs talk shows and Minnesota Vikings games, and WWTC (1280 AM), the Patriot.

What? Nothing more needs to be said about the Patriot? Don't they air talk shows too?

The new contract runs for two years with an option for two additional years. The station won the contract, which does not involve monetary value for the state, after meeting several criteria, including reaching a large and broad-based statewide audience, said Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung.

Sure, go with the 50,000 watt "good neighbor" if you must T-Paw. As for me and mine, we prefer the selective appeal of AM1280.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006
A New Hope?

Alienated newspaper lovers all over town may have been given a late Christmas present with the announcement that the Star Tribune is being sold off. Direct from the horse's mouth:

A private equity firm has reached an agreement to buy the Star Tribune from the McClatchy Co., publisher Keith Moyer announced today.

Whether that means the days are numbered for front page agenda journalism, PC blinders on important stories, insult editorials, unchecked casual plagiarism, and the willful arrogance of a self-aware monopoly is anyone's guess. But it sure wasn't going to endunder current ownership, so with this change, at least there is hope.

It looks like the current owners couldn't get away from their flagship publication fast enough. They sold it for less than half of what they paid for it eight years ago:

Newspaper publisher The McClatchy Co. said on Tuesday that it will sell its flagship newspaper Star Tribune to a private equity firm for $530 million, a sharp drop from the $1.2 billion it paid to acquire the newspaper just eight years ago.

Apparently taking a loss on this deal was necessary, and perhaps the primary reason for the sale. McClatchy sold 12 other papers for high profit in the aftermath of its acquiring Knight Ridder and it needs a large volume of red ink on the books to stave off the tax man. Which I'm sure is true. But I've seen no speculation stating that the Star Tribune is being sold at a bargain price. It's worth less than half of what it was less than 10 years ago. And that certainly correlates with the esteem it is now held by a large portion of the potential readership.

There are some dispiriting early reports that having new ownership will mean nothing to the operations of a business entity that lost half its value in less than a decade. Current and apparently continuing publisher Ken Moyer characterized the new owners (Avista) as:

They are progressive, very smart, good-hearted people who believe that no other media platform can reach a local audience as effectively as newspapers

Past on their own back and self-serving liberal euphemism is certainly business as usual for them. More ominously:

Moyer said he will remain as publisher, reporting to [Avista Board Member Chris Harte], and that the newspaper's management team will remain intact.

Maybe they're trying not to spook the herd before the deal is finalized, or they're going to make change with, or despite, the present staff. Either way, I'm sure this statement from the new boss sent some chills down a few spines:

You and I and everyone who works with us will have to listen carefully to our readers and our advertisers and make sure we provide them with the information and advertising they want, when they want it, how they want it.

Ah, were that it were true.

UPDATE: Hope ebbs with some cursory research on the new boss's campaign donation history.


Monday, November 27, 2006
I Wish They Could All Be "Nick's Peeps"

Shawn e-mails to advise us that Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman is looking for a few good Minnesotans:

I am looking for My Peeps of the Year.

If someone else had taken up the slack, I would've been happy to let them. But when you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. So here's my idea: With your help, I'd like to name my ColeMan and ColeWoman of the year. Two Minnesotans who deserve to be recognized as Person Of The Year (POTY) for being the most outstanding -- or the most outrageous -- among us.

I am no Saint Nicholas: Nominees do not have to be good little boys and girls. Nor do they have to be someone I approve of, voted for or want to hang with.

Nor, in order to not minimize the participant pool, do they have to be someone who wants to hang with Nick.

Based on his preliminary list, it looks like he needs all the help he can get:

How about Minneapolis Fire Chief (on leave) Bonnie Bleskachek, who has made fire houses far more, ahem, interesting to me than they were before, and who leads the country in the number of four-alarm law suits she has sparked? She could be in the hunt.

Other names among the usual categories of suspects include:

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who won re-election and made it through the whole year (so far) without publicly dropping an F-bomb along with the puck.

Joe Mauer, who won the American League batting title.

Congressman-elect Keith Ellison, the Honorable Muslim from the great state of Minnesota. Or Amy Klobuchar, our first elected woman senator. Or Judi Dutcher, who turned a campaign around and won the election (for the other guys).

Or, turning our sights to loftier plateaus, a St. Paul native named HeideMarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, who did rings around all of them (and around the planet), as a crew member on a space shuttle.

Yawn. Thankfully, you have a chance to liven up this lame list:

Send your nominations to me, by e-mail at the address below. Remember: There are two awards, one for a man and one for a woman. I will sort the nominees and make an initial effort to winnow them down. Then, on Dec. 17, I will report back to you with the names of our finalists. That's when you will have a chance to vote. We'll get a ballot online on the Star Tribune website, so you can choose the winners. They will be announced on Dec. 24.

E-mail early, e-mail often.


Friday, November 17, 2006
Kiss and Make Up

It's always good to see people seemingly made for each other ending up together, despite all the impediments society throws in their way:

The Star Tribune and the organizer of the Twin Cities' annual gay pride event announced Tuesday that they settled a dispute dating to 2004 over the newspaper declining to run advertisements featuring a same-sex kiss. The newspaper will resume sponsoring the event and GLBT Pride/Twin Cities will drop a pending lawsuit, according to a news release by the parties.

That's a relief. The Twin Cities annual gay pride event without the Star Tribune is like gay men's chorus float without the Mayor of Minneapolis stage diving off of it and injuring his knee - it just feels wrong.

It is good to see this brief spat over what constitutes "community standards" and discrimination has created some emotional growth and maturity that will only bring these parties closer together:

In a joint statement released Tuesday, the two organizations said they "regret their difficult and strained relationship" after working together for many years. "The positive side of this dispute is that we both have grown in understanding each other's views of their rights, responsibilities and missions," the statement said.

Or, as Peter Cetera once crooned:

Hold me now It's hard for me to say I'm sorry
I just want you to stay
After all that we've been through
I will make it up to you I promise to

Just what has the Star Tribune agreed to publish in future ads and bring into the homes of unsuspecting families all over the metro area? Details are sketchy:

They are still discussing details of their sponsorship agreement, the statement said.

The circulation department waits and worries.


I Want My Monkey Man

You've winced at his columns in the newspapers.

You've suffered through his ill-fated radio ventures.

And now ladies and gentlemen, brought right into your living rooms in vivid Technicolor, Nick Coleman on your television.

At least he was tonight when we happened to have the local Fox affiliate's news on. He was doing a commentary segment on the lines of people waiting at a local Best Buy for the PSIIIs and how it spelled the end of civilization as we know it. Yes, it was that bad.

It really was the worst of all worlds. His commentary was remindful of his carping columns. His voice of his off-putting, snarky radio shows. And to top it off, we had to look at his smug face the whole time. How many mediums can one man befoul?


Monday, November 13, 2006
Expert Testimony

Mark Steyn, perhaps the finest politcal writer in the world, on the state of the political writing at the monopoly newspaper in Minneapolis:

Aside from its political bias, which I think is actually quite disgraceful, the Star Tribune is just unreadable sludge and in the end, people are not going to carry on paying money for unreadable sludge.

That sounds reasonable. But most of those readers are the same people electing the likes of RT Rybak, Keith Ellison, and Chris Stewart to positions of power. Keen discernment is not exactly their strong suit.

But it's not that bad at the Star Tribune, is it? They do have Lileks, Katherine Kersten, and these Top 11 Other Things.


Monday, October 16, 2006
Live And Local?

"Local" radio, direct from Columbus, Ohio:

On Thursday when snow flurries were flying, the newest voice on KSTP (1500 AM) -- a host known only as Sterling -- complained to listeners about the semi-hysterical reaction of Twin Cities weather forecasters.

"I'm fairly new here, but do we have to be whipped into a fervor about the snow? Here in the Twin Cities," he added, "it's going to snow."

Only Sterling wasn't "here" at all. He was sitting in Columbus, Ohio, where the weather was clear and 51 degrees.

Although he mentioned Ohio later, saying he "had worked and lived there," he never told listeners that he was broadcasting his noon-to-2 p.m. show from its capital city, and has done so every day since early September, when he started full time at KSTP.

Ohio? Why are we outsourcing our jobs to a low-cost third world state? I know that radio is tough work, but is this really the kind of job that Minnesotans just won't do?

Rest assured that while it may occasionally seem like we're phoning it in, the Northern Alliance Radio Network will always be live and locally broadcast from the sprawling AM1280 The Patriot compound in Eagan.


Friday, October 13, 2006
Building Bridges To Nowhere

Another week, another puff piece on Keith Ellison by the Star Tribune's Rochelle Olson. While she does devote a couple of paragraphs to criticisms of Ellison, most of the article once again reads like a press release from the Ellison campaign. Number of Ellison's "detractors" (a bit of a loaded word, isn't it?) who were contacted for the story? Zero. The only quotes we get are from Ellison himself, Minneapolis Mayor RT "Float Diver" Rybak, and U.S. Attorney Todd Jones, who sounds like a longtime bobo of Ellison. Hard-hitting journalism at its best.

One of the things that we keep from hearing from Ellison supporters (like the Star Tribune) and Ellison himself is that instead of focusing of Ellison's past involvement with the Nation of Islam, his questionable personal conduct (including an inability to park legally, pay tickets and taxes, and file campaign finance reports), and his dubious ties to groups that support terrorist organizations, we should only talk about Ellison's positions on the critical issues of the day. You know, like the way they do with Alan Fine?

Okay, I'll bite. What are some of Keith Ellison's accomplishments in the Legislature?

Ellison, 43, was elected to the Legislature four years ago. He cites his work supporting lead abatement in old housing containing lead-based paint, pushing to convert the coal-fired Xcel Riverside electricity plant to gas, helping repeal vagrancy laws that criminalized homelessness and fighting for school funding and local government aid.

If you travel around the country at all, it's easy to notice the cities which encourage homelessness and those that don't. Maybe the people of Minneapolis want their city to become another haven for the homeless like Seattle and San Francisco. Personally, I would not.

And what could we expect to see if Mr. Ellison does go to Washington?

In Washington, he says, his priorities would be getting out of Iraq, universal single-payer health care and the environment.

So let's see, we have a defeat in the war, socialized medicine, and higher energy costs? Where do I sign up for that?

Oh yeah, about those dubious ties...

Islamic organization to host Florida fundraiser for Ellison:

State Rep. Keith Ellison is going to Florida on a two-day, five-event fundraising tour including a party hosted by the state's director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group that has become a flash point in the campaign to succeed Rep. Martin Sabo in the U.S. House.

Altaf Ali, CAIR's executive director in Florida, and Saif Ishoof are listed as the hosts for an event with a suggested donation of $100. It is scheduled for Saturday and will be at the Southwest Focal Point Senior Center in Pembroke Pines, Fla.

Ellison will not receive a warm welcome from everyone in Florida. Standing Against Hate:

Coral Springs, FL -- On Saturday, October 14, 2006, Americans Against Hate (AAH) will be leading a protest against the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Minnesota Candidate for U.S. Congress Keith Ellison, and Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Jim Davis. The protest will be taking place at the Southwest Focal Point Senior Center, in Pembroke Pines, Florida, which is playing host to a CAIR sponsored event featuring Ellison as Keynote Speaker.

The reason for the protest is to call attention to the fact that both Ellison and Davis have accepted campaign donations from CAIR officials. According to records, Keith Ellison received contributions from CAIR's National Executive Director Nihad Awad and CAIR's Government Affairs Director Corey Sawyer. As well, according to records, Jim Davis has received a contribution from the Communications Director of CAIR-Florida Ahmed Bedier.

AAH calls this a conflict of interest and a betrayal of the voters, as CAIR has been linked to convicted terrorists, terrorist acts and terrorist groups overseas. CAIR was incorporated in June of 1994 by three leaders of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), a Hamas front co-founded by the number two leader in Hamas today, Mousa Abu Marzook. Two of CAIR's former representatives are currently serving jail time for conducting terrorist activities with groups connected to Hamas and Al-Qaeda. And CAIR is currently the defendant in a lawsuit for the murder of an FBI Agent who was killed during the 9/11 attacks.

Both Awad and Bedier, two of the campaign contributors, have made disturbing statements with regard to terrorist organizations. Awad stated, in March of 1994, "...I am in support of the Hamas movement more than the PLO." And Bedier, in December of 2005, when asked if he believed Sami Al-Arian's association with Palestinian Islamic Jihad was immoral, said, "To a certain degree. Now, before 1995, there was nothing immoral about it." In addition, in July of 2006, Bedier co-hosted a radio show entirely devoted to praise for Hezbollah.

No need to worry though. From the Strib story on the Florida visit, the Ellison campaign assures us that it's all kosher:

Ellison spokeswoman Bridget Cusick noted that CAIR cannot donate to candidates and that its political arm hasn't endorsed Ellison. "Keith's entire campaign has been about building bridges -- to new voters, between communities," Cusick said.

He's a uniter, not a divider.

More on the Strib, Keith Ellison, and Alan Fine at Power Line.


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