Want to see the definition of a heck of a story? Read the Twin Cities Daily Planet's report into why a University of Minnesota-funded documentary about the Mississippi River got pulled shortly before it was to premiere. It focuses on agriculture, pollution, and sustainable solutions.
The suggestion in the story -- impossible to prove because the people who could clear up the controversy either aren't talking, appear to fibbing a bit, or don't seem to know answers to legitimate questions -- is that the university didn't want to upset ties to big agriculture. The few people at the U who are talking say the Bell Museum wanted a scientific review of the project, but the show's producer says that's not true.
Now, according to reporter Molly Priesmeyer, there's another angle that's surfaced on the "isn't it a coincidence?" list: The U's vice president of university relations is married to the owner of a public relations agency whose client is the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, which supports practices that are apparently criticized in the film.
The agency is the same one that was -- until recently -- partly owned by Tom Horner, a candidate for governor.
Priesmeyer doesn't have the smoking gun, but she's at the very least got circumstantial evidence that could only be explained away by the university fully explaining why it pulled the documentary at the last minute.
Seems a little fishy to me. If people at the U of M are ethical and honest, there should be no hesitation in being forthcoming about the the reason(s) for the documentary getting the hook.
So maybe that request for gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner to make public his client list might be moved up to the top of the 'In-box.' Or filed away in the Round File.
There's more than just a little smoke here - I can almost see the flames. We're not a huge state but surely we can manage our public institutions without such seeminly incestuous relationships between the public and private sectors.
I hope that MPR digs into this story. It has the potential to branch into conflicts of interest in many different places.
Without seeing it, I don't quite understand why Big Agriculture in Minnesota would be so concerned about this particular film. Corporate agriculture has been critically examined on public television many times before. It hasn't forced them to change any practices, just their marketing strategies.
I think this story merits more serious attention. Pulling one film, lying in one official statement: these are distasteful actions. But is this the only incident? Is there a pattern of action by the University that warrants closer attention? Musings, speculations, and loose references do not finish the job: I would like answers.
Kudos to you, Bob, for giving credit to Molly (yo, Molly!) and Daily Planet. Today's Strib story cites only "Internet chatter" not the online pub or reporter who broke the story.
I'm beyond furious that once again agribusiness is trying to keep us from learning the harsh truth about the dreadful state of enforcement of existing laws about keeping our water clean. It's an open secret in MN that the state does not do its part to enforce the Clean Water Act and that our lakes and rivers are polluted from farm runoff, even as many researchers and citizens beg for action. But when our only research university is forced to cancel a documentary at the last minute on such a bogus pretext, the crude display of arm-twisting is unseemly. Please, please, please don't let this story get away! I'm so sick of the corruption in regulatory agencies.
Corporate Agriculture has NOT been investigated or targeted or anything else!
Does anyone truly believe that Big Agri is an altruistic enterprise concerned with the food we eat being healthy or sustainable agricultural methods being used to sustain the planet?
Please. Let's get real. Do the REAL research and not what Big Agri is pumping out. THAT is what they want you to believe. their power is evident in the placement of folks into the very agencies tasked with oversight.
I simply can't believe this film is not going to be shown. Facebook, Twitter, Blogs - let's get the movie out there now!
Or... I guess UM is just like Fox News - Monsanto threated Murdoch & the Sheik with "dire consequences" if they didn't pull the investigative report on Milk and what is really in it (pus - from mastitis, etc....)
Sad. Even sadder to let them get away with it. I work at a university - thought we were different than that...
The Monsanto/Fox Milk Story...yep. Altruistic, my left foot.
A friend of mine just posted this on my Facebook post on this..."...(W)hy a University of Minnesota-funded documentary about the Mississippi River got pulled shortly before it was to premiere...the university didn't want to upset ties to big agriculture....The U's vice president of university relations... is married to the owner of a public relations agency whose client is the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, which supports practices that are apparently criticized in the film.
The agency is the same one that was -- until recently -- partly owned by Tom Horner, a candidate for governor."
No conflicts of interest there, by gawly....