Chanting Points Memo: I Accuse

Conservative have been claiming for decades that the press is biased toward the left.

It’s hard to look at the Twin Cities’ media’s record of mangled context, selective reporting and generalized ennui this past three months and reach any conclusion other than this; the Twin Cities media has an agenda.

Let’s go over the past few months’ campaign events and the coverage – or lack of it – from the regional mainstream media.

Lies?  What Lies?: determined that Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s entire ad campaign is essentially untrue.

Not a word in the Twin Cities media.

Bad For Business: Last week, the Sorosphere began claiming that Target was suffering financially due to its support for Emmer’s campaign.

A simple check of the Dow Jones for that week showed that all mid-to-upper-range retailers had trouble that week, contemporaneously with a bad consumer confidence report.

No Lie Left Challenged: the Entenza campaign tried to make hay over Emmer’s “support for No Child Left Behind”.

Emmer was opposing NCLB before it was cool – not that you’d know it from our media.

The “DUI”s:  The media dutifully reported twice that Tom Emmer had two “DWI” convictions – once in close conjunction with a smear ad from Alliance for a Better Minnesota.  They also ran with ABM’s claims that this was directly connected to Emmer “sponsoring legislation to reduce punishment for drunk drivers”, at the alleged behest of “DWI Defense Attorneys”.

The media couldn’t be bothered to fact-check the story.  The facts are:

  • Emmer was never convicted of DUI.  It was “Careless Driving” in both cases.  Emmer openly admits that both cases were alcohol-related; he’s quite publicly taken responsibility for his mistakes which were, let’s recall, 20 and 30 years ago, when Emmer was in his teens and late twenties.
  • Emmer’s main piece of legislation was to eliminate prior consent hearings – the civil procedure by which accused drunk drivers get their licenses returned while going through the criminal system on the DWI charge.  These cases add a huge burden to the legal system, especially in the metro area; former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Judge Magnuson supported the bill, as did groups within the Attorney General’s office.
  • Emmer’s other piece would have allowed convicted DWIs to get some of their rights back after ten years of good behavior.  Neither bill would have “lessened punishments” in any way.
  • The “DWI Defense attorneys” were also prosecutors, who also did personal injury and wrongful death litigation against convicted drunk drivers.  Nobody in the Twin Cities media could be bothered to note that the claim was absurd; a DWI defense attorney should want stricter penalties, which would generate more markets for their services!

“The Corrosive Effect of Money in Politics”: In mid-July, I posted some findings from research into campaign finance records that showed that the Alliance for a Better Minnesota was largely funded by a PAC called “Win Minnesota” – which, in turn, was largely funded by contributions from the Dayton family, and especially Dayton’s ex-wife Alida Messinger, an heir to the Rockefeller fortune.

This happened about a week before the Target flap – at which point the narrative turned to hand-wringing about the corrosive effect of (corporate) money in politics.

Although MPR’s Tom Scheck noted the findings obliquely at the time, and WCCO’s Pat Kessler ran a story on the subject this past week, the mainstream media in the Twin Cities has been largely uninterested.

Perhaps they’re too busy reporting on Target to note that Alida Messinger alone has given three times more money than Target, and almost as much as the entire MNForward PAC.

ABM’s Lies: By early July, the Alliance for a Better Minnesota was kicking its epic ad buy into high gear.  Their first rounds of ads was found to be almost completely devoid of fact – although that apparently never rated a mention in the regional media.

Emmer’s Legal Record – Or At Least The Parts Of It That Make Good Smear Material:  On June 28, the Strib’s Pat Doyle ran a piece about a few episodes from Tom Emmer’s legal past; an office manager what swindled Emmer’s law firm, a suit over a disputed car crash (which Emmer won), another in which Emmer had been injured, and a suit against a landscaper.

Doyle’s “reporting” was notable for the meticulousness with which it omitted any shred of information from the record that might have portrayed Emmer as anything but a heartless pushy bully.   Nobody in the Twin Cities’ media reported that…:

  • ….the office manager, who took a plea deal that involved an apology and restitution to Emmer in exchange for not being prosecuted for much more serious charges, violated the terms of her plea bargain by talking to Doyle.
  • That the legal wrangling in Emmer’s accident litigation was the norm rather than the exception
  • That the landscaper who sued Emmer only did so because he had no case against Jacquie Emmer, and tried to sue Tom Emmer under a novel and ultimately specious theory that Emmer had “unjustly enriched” himself – in a suit that was thrown out with prejudice, with the judge requiring the landscaper to pay Emmer’s legal bills; the case had no merit whatsoever, although neither the Strib nor any other Twin Cities media outlet apparently felt the need to set the story straight.

The Detailed Plan – For a brief few weeks in June, the media and chattering classes asked almost as one “where is Emmer’s plan?” This, of course, without asking the same of any of the Democrats, whose primary race was just starting to (ahem) “heat up”.

Oddly, this would have been right during the planning phase for Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s biggest-in-history smear campaign against Emmer;  I’ll speculate that someone was trolling for material.

“He Wants To Cut How Much?”:  Much of the Twin Cities media and the leftyblog chatterbots beneath them ran with the “story” that Emmer said he’d cut the state budget by 30%.

This was, of course, based on a brief “mis-speak” during a live radio interview, which Emmer corrected immediately. This, however, remained largely unreported.

Nonetheless, radio spots for Matt Entenza after last week were still claiming that “Emmer would cut the budget a devastating 30%!”.  Perhaps nobody cares because Entenza was DOA from week one – but one needs to ask “do facts matter at all?”

“Emmer Hates Gays”:  The crux of the meme that the Dayton campaign has used to nationalize the governor’s race is the fallacy that “Emmer is rabidly anti-gay” – based on his support for a gay marriage amendment supported by a majority of Minnesotans, and I suspect a majority of legislators on both sides of the aisle – and his alleged “support” of punkdamentalist preacher Bradlee Dean and his controversial “You Can Run But You Can Not Hide” street ministry.

Nobody in the Twin Cities media bothered to fact-check the claim at the root of this meme – a story by Andy Birkey at the Soros-bankrolled Minnesota “Independent” that, a cursory examination by an amateur hobby hack showed, was built on clumsily-mangled context and some circumstantial gossip fodder.

“Local Government Aid Cuts Are Destroying Minnesota!”:  When Alliance for a Better Minnesota launched a campaign claiming that Governor Pawlenty’s cuts to Local Government Aid had caused huge problems, nobody in the Twin Cities media seemed to have the time to fact-check the claims.  It took a lowly blogger not one, not two, not three, not four, but five articles to do the sort of fact-checking that we ostensibly have a regional media that gets paid to do fulltime.

“Uncertified Teachers“:  One of the “Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s first claims was that Tom Emmer favors “uncertified teachers”.

A fairly detemined search didn’t show that any regional media fact-checked this story which,  of course, was a lie – Emmer favors alternative licensing, so that we can actually get enough teachers in fields like science and math where our humanities-glutted Educational-Industrial Complex isn’t producing enough candidates.

“Extreme“:  The left’s chanting point from the very beginning was that “Emmer is Extreme”.

To Rachel Stassen-Berger’s credit, she did report that Emmer’s record, at least on a range of key selected issues, is a virtual mirror of that of Margaret Anderson-Kelliher – who, Kelliher reminded us in the debate, is more centrist than Dayton.

The Big Green Stiff: Right after the convention, the DFL candidates gathered to hold a “Green Issues Summit”.  Dayton and Entenza gamboled about the fact that Emmer never showed up at the event-  which the media duly carried.

Unreported:  That Emmer had quite publicly declined to attend because it was his youngest child’s first communion.

120 thoughts on “Chanting Points Memo: I Accuse

  1. I wish English speakers would go back to using the second person personal pronouns, eg “Thee” (object) and “thou” (subject).
    Their use adds depth and precision to common speech and confers dignity to the person being addressed.
    If I was still an English major I could write an interesting term paper on the replacement of “thou” and “thee” with the all-purpose singular/plural, objective/subjective “you”.
    Years ago I read that George Fox’s Quakers retained the older, singular usage because it enforced egalitarianism; in Fox’s time (the 1650’s or thereabouts), the aristocracy would use the correct “thee” and “thou” when addressing one another, but would use the plural “you” when addressing an individual of the lower orders. For another take on this controversy, check out:

  2. It has been shown (in a study! By real academics!) that colloquial speech relies on words with Anglo-Saxon roots, while more formal speech relies on words with Latin roots.
    A prime example is “f*ck” versus “intercourse”.

  3. Troy, I expect the ever-enterprising Joe “Learned Foot” Tucci to have some on hand in time for the MOB party Saturday night, with Swiftee in charge of distribution.

  4. “Dayton has suffered from treated mild depression, not manic depression or bi-polar disorder.”

    I stand corrected. Doesn’t change my conclusion, though. This guy should be nowhere near the levers of power.

    Sure, but not because he has mild depression, which is a lot more treatable these days than when Abraham Lincoln had a worse than mild case of it. (I think Lincoln did a pretty good job, all in all, although he should have fired McClellan before Antietam. But I digress.)

    Nah. The problem with him is that he has too many of the wrong policies, and far too much of the wrong temperament.

    Other than that, I’m sure he’s okay.

  5. This is true. The only Presidents I can think of offhand who demonstrated more physical courage were Washington, Truman and Bush I.

  6. I don’t normally play softball outside of pick-up games with friends, but since you’re pitching today, I will.

    Being a virtual mirror image of Kelliher does not make Emmer moderate. In fact, that means the exact opposite. Most legislation is really pretty boring and non-controversial, so being a mirror image on votes implies Emmer deliberately votes against the mainstream of both parties on many bills.

    For example:

    Emmer was one of only nine Republicans to vote against General Assistance Medical Care for the poorest of the poor (so they wouldn’t just show up in ERs and cost more). He was one of only five Republicans to vote against the final I-35W Bridge Victims Fund (so we wouldn’t get sued, pay court costs for both sides plus the judge and court, and be held liable for punitive damages). Both of these measures should have been pretty non-controversial and they may even have saved taxpayers money versus the Emmer alternative.

  7. Scoob,

    Strawman. I said nothing about being moderate.

    What I said was that if Emmer is extreme, so is was Kelliher. If his positions are “far right”, then MAK’s were, empirically, “far left”.

  8. This is true. The only Presidents I can think of offhand who demonstrated more physical courage were Washington, Truman and Bush I.

    I’d argue that Kennedy (PT109) and Jackson (Revolutionary War veteran at 13, a huge number of duels, and a number of other wars and battles) should also be high on that list, with perhaps W. Harrison and his stare down with Tecumseh at Harrison’s house not to mention his battles (Tippecanoe for starters, the Battle of Detroit, etc) should be on your list, too.

    Even B. Harrison was a Lt. and Col. during the Civil War, at a time when folks of that rank actually led the soldiers from the front and not the rear, participating in the Sherman’s Atlanta campaign and the Battle of Nashville, Lost Mountain, and a host of others.

    Physical courage hasn’t been a primary feature of presidents for some time, but many of the early ones were quite remarkable.

  9. Don’t forget Teddy Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill! Teddy was an American original. One biographer described a scene where Teddy was late to a meeting with the president of an IV league university. He returned to his rooms because he had forgotten his revolver. The person he was to meet was a clergyman.

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