Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More Embarrassment: Pioneer Press Endorsement Guidelines Cite Kline As Bad Example

The Pioneer Press has published its endorsement guidelines. They contain more evidence that the newspaper's endorsement process may have been manipulated. It lists seven areas that the Pioneer Press Editorial Board would consider when awarding an endorsement. One of those areas is titled "Respect".

Respect. We like vigorous debate. We are in the free-speech business and are loath to tone things down. Sometimes, personal issues are important. Candidates have to fight ā€” otherwise, why would they be running against each other? But as with partisanship, there is a line. Candidates who flood the airwaves with incessant personal attacks or lame, emotional appeals disrespect the voters.

How much, for example, did 2nd district U.S. Rep. John Kline spend on mailings designed to link his opponent, FBI whistleblower Colleen Rowley, to an unpaid advisor's personal views on illegal drugs ā€” views that Rowley does not agree with?

I found it particularly strange that Kline's negative mailers were specifically mentioned in the Pioneer Press' guidelines as an example of what they consider disrespectful. In other words, if you look up negative campaigning or disrespect in the Pioneer Press' dictionary you'll find John Kline's picture.

Listener/Reader Chad P. has a similar assessment:
"... consider the paper's own endorsement guidelines - independence, integrity, respect, creativity, fiscal responsibility, discernment, and unity. I honestly can't see how they can rate Kline ahead of Rowley on ANY of those factors, yet he still wins the overall endorsement?"
Chad P. has a few other good points about Republican blogger Craig Westover's involvement in authoring the endorsement without having the Editorial Board check his facts:
One additional confusing aspect of the endorsement is the level of credence given to Kline's "behind-the-scenes" work. Does Mr. Westover have a basis for this claim? It sounds more like an apologist talking-point to deflect criticisms about his actual record.

They claim consensus was reached before the video was introduced, but certainly Mr. Westover was in those discusions and no doubt lobbied for endorsing Kline using similar claims to those that ended up in the writeup. How much influence did his false claims of Rowley campaign nastiness (or any other issues, for that matter) have on the other board members? Would they reach the same consensus if they had more accurate information?

I truly believe this endorsement deserves a "do-over", although I doubt such a radical step would ever be taken. Still, I plan to write the editor and bring up these issues and others, as you and others have doubtless already done.
Upset? Outraged? Want to see more transparancy and verification in the Pioneer Press endorsement process? Then contact Pioneer Press Editorial Editor Mike Burbach mburbach@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5544. I've written responses for publication but they have yet to be published. You can submit your own at letters@pioneerpress.com. Or mail them to:
Pioneer Press,
345 Cedar Street,
St. Paul, Minnesota 55101

Or fax them to:
(651) 228-5564
Be sure to read the letters guidelines.


Blogger Life is Beautiful said...

I read over your blog, and i found it inquisitive and informative.

My name is Mark Johnson, and I've been visiting Inside Minnesota Politics for last six months.

Iā€™m a recent UC Berkeley Political science grad and I along with some fellow Princeton alums have been working hard to launch our own internet startup called Rizzleweb.com.
Rizzleweb is basically an online political community where people can log on and write performance reviews\comments for congressmen, senators, the president, and various other local and state officials across the country. I was hoping that if it would not be too much trouble you could place a link of our site on your blog. If this is not possible (which we completely understand), we still hope you will check out our site, and post some reviews.
Your contribution will encourage us to put more effort in improving our website.
Mark Johnson

2:53 AM  

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