Last weekend, Ed and I had a long, interesting discussion with Eric Black, formerly of the Strib, now of the Minnesota Monitor. One of the questions – how does journalism with an established agenda differ from journalism that, at least formally, abjures a point of view?
I don’t know that we’ll get any answers right now, but it’s an interesting question to keep in mind as you read Black’s debut on the MinMon, on what is presented to us as an awkward moment for US Attorney for Minnesota, Rachel Paulose:
Rachel Paulose, the embattled U.S. attorney for Minnesota, suffered through an awkward moment Tuesday when a retirement party for a long-serving prosecutor in her office turned into a thunderous ovation for several of Paulose’s severest critics. Word of the incident has buzzed through the Twin Cities federal legal community and become the latest symbol of a very rough 18 months since Paulose took over the top federal law enforcement job in Minnesota.
Let’s get some context in here.
The Minnesota US Attorney’s office, like the Attorney General’s Office, has been the province of Democrat-leaning lawyers for quite some time. Paulose replaced Tom Heffelfinger, who in turn replaced David Lillehaug, whose political inclinations have led him to seek the DFL nomination to run for Senate.
In other words, Paulose is a very different person than Lillehaug or Heffelfinger, and brings a different agenda to the office than either of her predecessors.
How different? As a layperson, it’s hard to know exactly what difference things like differing management styles and priorities make to people like US Prosecutors.
And the story, unfortunately, sheds little light on that, relying on “conventional wisdom” about Paulose.
Paulose has been under increasingly harsh public scrutiny about how her appointment is connected to the Bush administration’s alleged politicization of the Justice Department, and about how she has run the office.
But as Power Line – especially Scott Johnson – in their extensive coverage of the Paulose tempest-in-teapot has noted, that “public scrutiny” has been generated by a pretty narrow swathe of ”public”. Katherine Kersten also lends the reader some context missing from the mainstream (and now explicitly-biased) media’s coverage.
But let’s go to the ceremony in question, this past Tuesday:
This account of the Tuesday incident comes from people who were present but requested anonymity.
So we have not only no idea who they were and what there motivations are, but whether their story is accurate?
Were these “people” acting independently? Were they detached from the Paulose “controversy”?
We don’t know.
On Tuesday afternoon, about 70 employees of the U.S. attorney’s office and other guests gathered in a big conference room to recognize the departure of Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry Sekus. Sekus is leaving to join the legal staff of UnitedHealth. Paulose was present…When it was his turn to address the group, Sekus deflected the compliments that had been sent his way and said that those who deserved the praise were the former supervisors who had resigned their posts, because their actions had required courage.
And then, the chase – as apparently described to Eric Black, by anonymous “people” who may or may not have had an axe to grind with Paulose in the first place; being anonymous, we really have no idea, and are forced to trust, or “trust” (or not) a reporter from an organization which has an agenda on this issue.
At that, the room erupted with loud, sustained applause that could not be taken as anything other than solidarity with Paulose’s internal critics and appreciation for the sacrifice they had made to protest against her– clearly a spontaneous release of the tensions within the office.
According to a witness, the ovation was so loud that it had to represent the applause of 90 percent or more of those in the room.
“Could not be taken as anything but…” – or so say an undetermined number of anonymous witnesses about whose motivations we are utterly in the dark.
Paulose was present throughout and could not have left without calling attention to herself. One of the eyewitnesses said she had a glazed look during the ovation.
Sort of like the look I’m getting, pondering the logical gaps in this story. Words fail me.
Fortunately, they don’t fail Joel Rosenberg, who left a comment:
Okay; you’ve now established that Paulose is unpopular with (at least) much of her staff. I thought that was well-established, but maybe you missed the reporting on that.
What you haven’t established is why — is it because she is, as some have accused her being, overbearing? Is it that under Heffelfinger the priorities of the office were different than hers, and that the staff is chafing under new direction? Is it similar to what happened when Lillehaug took over the office back in the ancient days — when, I believe, you were working for the Star Tribune — and the Star Tribune (at best) glossed over how half a dozen very experienced attorneys in that partisan Democrat US Attorney’s office left in the ensuing demotions and reshufflings he engaged in when he took over? Is this better, or worse? Is it all of those, in some mixture, or none of the above? …Guess I’m going to have to look somewhere other than in your article, which broke the news that a bunch of lawyers cheered when another retired, and you were unable to get a comment from the US Attorney on that pressing matter.
I have an anonymous witness that says that Black’s anonymous witness had a glazed look on her face.
No, I don’t. But I could.
Seriously, Joel’s right. No comparison, no context, no contrast, no history.
A bunch of lawyers – people famous for hating everyone – don’t like their boss.
Mr. Black – perhaps an anonymous tipster can give us some insights on these questions.
UPDATE: I see Brian “St. Paul” Ward reached about the same conclusion.