No Obvious Rant, No Overt Slant

To: Catharine Richert, “Poligraph” writer at MPR
From: Mitch Berg, mere peasant
Re: Here’s a dandy story idea!

Ms. Richert,

You’ve been doing “Poligraph” at Mnnesota Public Radio for quite some time now.   The ongoing feature purports to fact-check Minnesota politicians’ statements.

Now, a quick glance through the Poligraph page seems to show that most of your “fact-checking” involves going over statements…by Republicans.  The statements, and the facts in question, can frequently be more than a little bit picayune, but the point isn’t so much that you fact-check a lot of things that are, to most people, pretty ephemeral stuff as it is that your efforts seem so very, very one-sided.

Now, on the one hand I’m one of those rare conservatives who credits MPR’s News operation for at least trying for some sort of balance.  Tom Scheck did an excellent piece on Alliance For A Better Minnesota, for example.  Two years after I did it, naturally, and long-lagging my own extensive coverage of ABM’s efforts, but then he’s gotta cover a lot of stuff, and it’s fine.  Better late than never (although I do wonder why MPR’s coverage of things that don’t carefully buff the DFL’s sheen always happen in the dead of winter, long before anyone actually cares about politics, but again, just a quibble).  As a rule, I appreciate the job MPR News does, while believing it could do better.

On the other hand, I do realize you work for MPR, you’re a graduate of the impeccably-”progressive” Humprey Institude, and beyond all that that you have to serve your Volvo-driving, Carlton-degree-holding, Wellstone-worshiping, Crocus-Hill-dwelling, latte-drinking master.  And that DFL-voting master just loooooves to have her ego stroked, whether during the pledge drives (I noticed a lot more of the “we MPR listeners are a smart, discerning bunch!” promos during your pledge drive) and in between.  Which means tackling those nasty, talk-radio-listening Republicans.

So it’d be interesting to see if you ever manage to get around to “Poligraphing” the most egriegious, pants-soaked-in-napalm lies in Minnesota politics today – those being told by the likes of Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom and the various metro police chiefs about the “Stand Your Ground” bill.  Quite simply, nothing they say – nothing, nada, bupkes – has even the faintest grain of truth to it.

(I’ll bring you up to speed:  Stand Your Ground would treat people who shoot in self-defense on their property a presumption of innocence.  Currently, to claim self-defense, you have to essentially say “I’m guilty, but here’s my explanation…”, and hope the explanation suits the prosecutor, judge and jury.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it really really doesn’t.

Now, Backstrom, Darth Lillehaug, and some of the Metro police chiefs (and headline writers) claim that the bill would “legalize murder”, which is a slander both to the law-abiding owner and the cops and prosecutors who investigate the shootings – as if they can’t tell the difference between a legitimate self-defense shooting and a criminal act.

But more importantly for your beat, Ms. Richert, it’s right in your wheelhouse.  You have Minnesota politicans – and, even worse, officers of the court – lying about the law.  To Minnesotans..

That’s your beat, right?

Now, I realize that the Volvo-driving, free-range-alpaca-wearing, Saint-Olaf-diploma-sporting, latte-drinking, Merriam-Park-dwelling crowd that is your audience base might find guns and Second Amendment supporters unfashionable.  I get that.

But, again – politicians lying to the people.  In the news.

While this might take time away from poring over Michele Bachmann’s grocery list, I”m just saying.  You smelling what I’m cooking?

That is all.

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