What can I say about the City Pages?
Pro: Their graphics people are as cool as ever:
Illustration: City Pages
And when they stick to reporting the facts, they do some great journalism. That's a fact.
Con: When they swerve into opinion, anything goes.
For example, this piece by Mike Mosedale, which purports to tell the story of TCF's withdrawal of advertising from the Strib. The article fumbles so many key pieces of simple fact-checking, it might has well have been written by Coleman himself.
This appeared in last week's 'Pages:
Last week, Bill Cooper, the chief executive of TCF Bank, fired off an angry letter in which he vowed that "TCF will never spend another dollar on advertising in the Star Tribune as long as I am chairman." Of course, Cooper, the former head of the state Republican Party, is known as something of a hothead. Last year, he spent about $10,000 to overturn a ticket he was issued for speeding on a snowmobile on Lake Minnetonka. [Objection: Relevance?]Mosedale omits, of course, that Powerline (and the whole Northern Alliance) have backed up those claims over and over and over and over again this past year. A reasonable person might look at the evidence, which blogs present, and the Star Tribune and City Pages won't, and realize there's a reason we keep piling on the man.
Still, what could have rendered him so indignant that he would find it necessary to divorce one of the state's largest financial institutions from its biggest newspaper? Two words: Nick Coleman. More specifically, a December 29 piece in which the Strib columnist assailed as "extreme" the local bloggers who are behind Time magazine's blog of the year, Power Line.
For the past month or so, the unreconstructed Minnesota liberal Coleman has been engaged in a mutual shin-kicking contest with the neo-cons at Power Line. In various posts, the Power Line bloggers have called Coleman "the Star Tribune's worst columnist," "a partisan hack," and "a prevaricating scoundrel."
But a reasonable person reading the City Pages and who does not read blogs only has Mosedale's account to go by - and it's a misleading account, indeed.
The shin-kicking has been going on for years, with occasional fits and starts; it peaked last summer, with Strib editor Jim Boyd's imfamous article defaming Powerline, followed in the early autumn by Coleman dismissing with contempt the very bloggers he so viciously (and desperately) attacked last month.
Perhaps Mosedale needs to read a blog or two?
When the feud spilled into the vast right-wing echo chamber known as the blogosphere [You gonna take that, New Patriot?], the tone became even nastier. (David Strom, president of the Taxpayers League, set the bar lowest, declaring on his blog that Coleman "is a prick. An asshole. A shitty writer.")Mosedale makes this sound like a tit-for-tat pissing match. Perhaps Coleman thinks it is - my exchange with him in December related to an abortive attempt to book him on the Northern Alliance Radio Network show makes it sound like he thinks it's personal.
In his end-of-the-year column, Coleman produced some vitriol of his own.
It's not. We, the Northern Alliance as a group, have been attacking Coleman for years, now, for his myopic presentation of Minnesota political issues, his ludicrously hamfisted depiction of Republicans and conservatives, his high-handed arrogance in dealing with anyone who disagrees with him, and his shoddy writing.
Above all, oh lordy, the shoddy writing.
After all that, really, I doubt if any of us cares to get personal.
Mosedale starts to swerve toward the story...:
Noting that one of the Power Line bloggers, a St. Paul lawyer named Scott Johnson, works for TCF, Coleman implied that Johnson's superiors at TCF might be bankrolling Power Line....without actually hitting it. Coleman implied that Powerline was on the take from prominent Republicans, and not reporting it. Blog readers probably know this, as well as Powerline's other charges against Coleman; Mosedale's readers don't get to learn this.
Near the end of the column, Coleman mused on the possibility of withdrawing piles of money from TCF.Is it right? It's their money! The Strib has to earn its advertisers!
That pushed Cooper over the edge. "To suggest that customers of TCF Bank should move their money because of a TCF employee's blogging activities (an exercise of free speech) is just wrong," Cooper harrumphed in his letter to the Strib.
So is it right for TCF to financially punish the Strib when Nick Coleman exercises his free speech?
Free speech is speech free of government censorship; it does not mean that it is free of consequence, as long as that consequence is within the bounds of the law. Sponsorship is not an entitlement, it's a voluntary contract!
Let's try to keep this straight:
Mike Mosedale seems ignorant of all this.
Yes, in Cooper's view. "What Nick Coleman said about TCF isn't true. We don't have anything to do with that [Power Line]." Cooper asserted that he'd never even heard of the Power Line blog before the honor from Time. "I still haven't read it. So why am I drawn into this thing? Why is TCF brought into it?"Mosedale doesn't answer this. I'd like to know what he thinks about this. If you're a City Pages staffer, please convey to Mr. Mosedale my invitation to answer the question.
If you believe media gossip, the yanked TCF ads will cost the Strib some $250,000. Cooper said he doesn't know the precise dollar figure. Strib editor Anders Gyllenhaal declined to answer financial questions.Trunk "...affixed his lips..."?
Meanwhile, the Power Line blogger known as Big Trunk--TCF's Scott Johnson--has posted a five-point demand that Coleman retract his "false and defamatory" statements. Then, perhaps in the hope that Cooper might one day start reading Power Line, the Big Trunk affixed his lips to the boss's ass. "Bill Cooper," he wrote in a post excoriating Coleman, "is one of my heroes."
Mike; are you auditioning for Coleman's job? Do you know something we don't?
Bill Cooper's story is an inspiring one, if you can put your "bosses versus the proletariat" stereotypes aside for a moment...oh, I know that's a big "if" for some of you, isn't it? Clinker is, I've seen Scott Johnson relate the story, and I know something you don't; Johnson's admiration for Cooper is genuine.
Which is more than we can say for most of Mike Mosedale's story.
Wow. If only the City Pages were a blog...Posted by Mitch at January 13, 2005 06:32 PM | TrackBack