Media: AWOL Redux – Nothing Personal; Just Business

Rachel Stassen-Berger, writing in the Strib yesterday:

Republican candidate for governor Tom Emmer is all over the new Republican theme — Democratic candidate Mark Dayton doesn’t have a complete budget plan.

Emmer hammered the point, made by supportive Republicans repeatedly during the past few days, on a Tuesday spot on Minnesota Public Radio.

“Let’s start talking about the elephant in the room that nobody wants to acknowledge. Sen. Dayton has proposed a plan that is billions of dollars short,” Emmer said. He went on to suggest that Dayton will have to increase taxes more folks than he’s specified — couples making taxable income of $150,000 and singles earning $130,000. “How far are you willing to go?”

Let’s extend that thought for a moment:  Mark Dayton is not a dumb guy.  And he’s got people on his campaign staff who are even smarter.  They don’t own a supercomputer – but they don’t need one to put together the broad outlines of a budget.  Their campaign isn’t short of staff or funding, obviously.

So if you think the only budget that the Dayton campaign has is the one that’s on the website – the one that grins a big dumb grin and says “we’re $890 million short” with the same seriousness of a junior high kid saying the dog ate his homework – then I have to say with all due respect that you’re beggaring reason.   Either the campaign is incompetent, or they know where that extra $890 million is coming from, and would rather the electorate not know.

And if you assume Democrats and Dayton aren’t just plain stupid, that leaves you with only “b”

“Put it on paper, Sen. Dayton,” Emmer said. (Republicans on Twitter and on blogs have taken to accusing individual reporters of negligence for not following suit.)

Stassen-Berger links to my Twitter account, as well as my “AWOL Media” piece yesterday.  I wouldn’t use the phrase “accusing of negligence”, really – it’s got a legalistic tinge to it that’s a little unseemly for free speech.

It just seems that the media, which six weeks ago were hot to get all the details of the Emmer budget, has suddenly gotten incredibly incurious.  And yet now that Dayton’s budget has a large, suspicious hole – and there really is no solution but to jack up taxes on the middle class – suddenly it seems that the people don’t have a “right to know”, accorinding to our regional political media.

I mean, did you see Esme Murphy?

She might as well have been giving the Senator a massage.  “Do you have any plans?”  Er, nope.  And it ended there!

Did you hear Keri Miller’s interview with Tom Emmer?  Back before Emmer released his budget?  She went after him like a barracuda after Charlie the Tuna.

Does the public – especially us middle-class schnook taxpayers – still have a right to know now that it’s the favorite son of Minnesota’s political “elite?”

I mean…:

Dayton has acknowledged that his budget plan comes up nearly $1 billion short. That’s in part because his income tax plan won’t bring in as much money as he had hoped. He has specified how he would make the cuts he’s found, although some are estimates and others have been deemedunrealistic. But he admits a “gap,” which leads opponents to believe he’ll raise more in taxes.

…I’m a complete schlemiel as a “reporter”, and even I see that these are some huge, valid questions!

So David Brauer – who’s never covered up his lefty sympathies, but seems to try to do a decent job anyway – asked via Twitter:

@mitchpberg regarding @Rachelsb & @MinnPost, does this and this get them off your bad list?

He links to a this Rachel Stassen-Berger story in the Strib, and a Doug Grow piece in the MinnPost.  Stassen-Berger did, indeed, note that Dayton’s budget comes up short – but there’s no evidence that I’ve seen (I’m willing to be corrected!) that she’s gotten up at a Dayton presser and said “OK, Chauncey Fauntelroy, if you don’t have to hit the middle class, who do you have to get the $890 million?  We’ve got all day, Yale boy” (Those might be my words rather than Stassen-Berger’s).

Grow makes the valid point that…:

…no governor, no matter how popular, will be able to zip a budget package through the Legislature without major changes. In this case, whoever is governor likely will not be elected with a majority of the vote, meaning there will be little chance to claim any mandate, so you can expect nasty legislative fights.

…while basically claiming a pox on all their fiscal houses.

And, most importantly, both of these pieces were two weeks ago.  Juuuuust about the time that the non-wonk class – all those actual voters – started thinking about the election.

Which was why I took exception to Brauer’s followup tweet:

@mitchpberg Fair question. Would venture Dayton’s gap is well-known, covered and acknowledged. For many weeks, Emmer seemed to be ducking.

Well-known to whom?  Political reporters and political junkies and fire-breathing political bloggers?  Sure!

The average voter – especially the ones who start paying attention to politics sometime between the first and fifteenth of October?

Hell – I’ve talked with candidates for the State House who haven’t read anything about this yet.

So while I’m not going to say that our assembled mass of journalists are “negligent” for not asking, I’m still curious; when the public has a right to know, does it imply they’re supposed to exercise that right by developing a jones for research?

Look, journos; if your line is “all three of the candidates’ budgets leave questions”, then ask them.  That’s what you get the big bucks for.  Hell, I’d do it, if any of them (but Emmer) returned my calls!  And since neither of them do, I – and, more importantly, we, the entire body politic – have to depend on y’all, Tim Pugmire and Tom Scheck and Bill Salisbury and Rachel Stassen-Berger and Pat Kessler to do it.

Thing is, so far in the race, it’s Emmer that’s been getting the questioning; Dayton seems to be the only one who can get away with saying “I’ll get back to you on November 3”.

Am I wrong?

What say you, Tim and Rachel and Tom and Bill and Pat?

11 thoughts on “Media: AWOL Redux – Nothing Personal; Just Business

  1. Caption to photo in today’s St Paul PP.

    “I think he looked at me,” said Macalester College freshman Doriyush Ubaydi.

    They show a Macalester kid with an expression on his face looking like the first time he walked into nudie bar.

  2. In relation to what you posted the other day about CD8 Mitch, MICHEAL FREAKING BARONE linked up Ed’s article about the poll you cited showing Oberstar up only 3 on Cravaack. Way to go indirectly putting up something way ahead of the curve.

  3. The press people mentioned should feel like schmucks.

    Giving Senator Fail such an obvious pass after setting the “budget info bar” so high and so early for Emmer. Which was wrong, as expressed in your words and in these:

    but at least going after Mark “I Give Myself An F” Dayton would provide the appearance of consistency. I wonder, why do most local journalists belong only on the opinions page?

  4. Because they were trained at Universities Troy. Whenever one of them dares utter the phrase “journalistic ethics” I break out in hysterical laughter. There has never been a more oxymoronic statement in history. Well, possibly pro-life Democrat…

  5. Dang it, Ben!

    You are two steps ahead of me! Kudos!

    On another note, a friend of mine, says that he met Frank and Amelia and swears that they are conservatives stuck on WDFL. It would make sense, because, although not the most reliable indicator, Frank is an Air Force Academy grad and Amelia comes from a military family.

    He’s pretty reliable, so I’m giving him the botd, but maybe someone knows different.

  6. Boss, thanks its one of the many reasons I changed my major away from journalism the first week of college. Being involved in campaigns I have to deal with press every now and then. Most recently would be over at O’Garas on primary night back in August. The leeches were attached to Emmer all night. The people in media have no souls and will do anything to advance their careers. 90% of the people are scum. Ironically mitch and others being “citizen journalists” so to speak have to have decency and integrity one because it gets them potential acess and two they don’t have any media outlets to rely on. The MSM would be wise to pay attention to this because this blogging movement is on the verge on killing them (metaphorically for anyone dumb enough to think that this constitutes a threat) and not a moment too soon. When people trust the big media less than Congress you know they are screwed.

  7. Ben;

    My son is still in college. His assessment is that both a journalism and a teaching degree, are easy to get, that’s why so many people chase them. This from a kid studying special effects. Go figure! But, in true capitalistic fashion, he is looking for the big pay day, proclaiming tongue and cheek that “Spielberg and Lucas will be drooling to get him. Ahhh, the dreams of the younger generation.

    Newly minted “teachers”, do seem to be a dime a dozen, though. For the past few years, I have been aware of many student teachers coming here, particualrly to Bloomington schools, armed with their degrees from the liberal bastions of University of WI and University of IA. I assume that it’s because they either can’t get gigs in their home state or do they just not want to?

  8. My guess is that the reporters take it personally because they know they should be covering these things. The thing is, we’re not their assignment editors. The pressure you’ve been putting on them is deeply useful and necessary, though, and it’s a sign of progress that they feel compelled to respond.

  9. You don’t understand how the system works, Mitch. Emmer’s lack of a budget plan was “newsworthy”. Dayton’s lack of a budget plan, his struggle with mental illness and alcoholism, and his miserable past performance in elective office are not “newsworthy”.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.