Posted at 6:15 PM on October 2, 2006
by Tom Scheck
DFLer Patty Wetterling held a news conference today to call for the resignation of anyone in Congress who knew that former Florida Congressman Mark Foley was e-mailing teenage pages. It's an issue Wetterling knows well since her background is on child safety. You can read the stories in earlier posts.
But Wetterling, a candidate for Congress in Minnesota's Sixth District, also declined to answer a legitimate question. Her Republican opponent Michele Bachmann is calling on Wetterling to pull her ad that criticizes Bachmann's stand on a national sales tax. MPR's Tim Pugmire asked her to comment on the issue. Wetterling responded:
"I'm not going to talk about that today. This is about a separate issue. I'll talk to you about that afterwards."
After the news conference, Pugmire says he approached Wetterling to follow up. Wetterling's campaign manager stepped in and stopped her from answering. He said they wouldn't talk about the ad today. It's no wonder why they didn't take the questions. Wetterling's campaign wants the focus to be on her key issue -- child protection. But that doesn't excuse reporters from not pressing her on the ad. Full disclosure-I'm in the MSM and I'm proud of it. The key question for reporters is: Why did you let her get away with that? It's not the biggest issue of the day but it is important.
It's disappointing that a candidate for Congress isn't willing to defend an ad she's running and that reporters covering this race took the "no comment" for an answer.
I am dissapointed that as a member of the MSM, you have let the Bush admin get away with stealing our civil rights without saying a damn thing about it.
Leave the best person in MN politics since Paul Wellstone alone, and do your job, and go hold the real crooks accountable for stealing our civil rights, destroying the constitution, and in effect, staging a coup and taking over our government.
I have to agree with Jason. We have a case of pedophilia covered up by national Republican leadership and you are pissy that Wetterling doesn’t want to talk about an ad at the precise moment you think it is important? After MPR has essentially run scared from Pawlenty and Sviggum for the last four years, I would think you would be embarrassed about this post.
Patty Wetterling's campaign manager - Corey Day is ineffective to put it mildly. Patty could do much better with the media if she would be herself.
Allow me to rise in defense of Tom Scheck -- not that he needs my help -- and point out that the outrage you are expressing is based not upon the act of a politician running for office refusing to answer questions from the media (and, in effect, you), but that the politician who won't answer the question is one you support.
If Bachmann or Kennedy had done that, you'd have quite a different opinion.
Don't get me wrong, it's not a DFL thing. It's a politics thing. It's selective outrage based only on party politics.
Refusing to answer questions doesn't mean that Rep. Foley should be excused, it means that a candidate for public office should answer questions when asked about a claim she's making.
Let me put it in terms you might relate to. If Dennis Hasstert said today, "we're not talking about that today," when quizzed about Foley, does questioning that strike you as something you should be ashamed of?
Party politics is so insidious now, we don't even recogtnize how it controls our values, our ethics, and our lives anymore.
Wrong is wrong regardless of political persuasion.
And Tom is right.
Patty Wetterling has to answer the questions the same reason any other candidate has to. Not because we're the media.
But because if you don't, it means you don't stand behind what you say. Quite possibly, it means you don't even believe it yourself, but someone else said it for you.
Remember that the next time you see an ad from one of your political opponents.
If you can't stand up for what you say, you should sit down.
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that Patty Wetterling is very poorly advised and has been since her failed run for the 6th District two years ago.
Paul Wellstone, by the way, answered questions... ESPECIALLY the hard ones. She may well be the best person ever to roam the earth, but when it comes to standing up and defending one's own words and allegations, Patty Wetterling is no Paul Wellstone.
Not today, anyway.
I couldn't disagree more. Every politician has the responsibility to answer the tough questions but they also have the ability to decide if it is appropriate to answer that tough question at that moment. I would again suggest that pedophilia in the US House is serious enough that discussing the validity of statements made in a political ad could wait a day.
And no, this is not only because I support Wetterling. If I got frustrated by reporters letting politicians slide on hard questions, I would have stopped listening to Midmorning years ago. If MPR reporters asking tough questions was the norm, it would not be newsworthy enough when it happens that you pat Kerri Miller on the back.
Instead, this seems more like a case of a reporter getting irked that his question was not answered, and then going to the bloggosphere to sound off.
I agree that Wetterling has been poorly advised, and that she should respond to her ads if she, in fact, "approves of this ad" as they state.
That said, Bob, I don't think we have to worry about Michele Bachmann refusing to answer a question like that from you, because you wouldn't ask her one like that. Bachmann has gotten a pass from the MSM on her lies and deceptions.
You've been asked repeatedly to correct the embellishments on her MPR resume claiming her occupation is "tax litigation attorney." You refuse to. But that's a lie Bob. She worked for five years as a tax collection lawyer for the IRS, hasn't practiced law since 1993 and isn't even authorized to practice law in Minnesota. Yet you refuse to make the correction or ask Bachmann about it.
How many reporters have asked Bachmann about her ad in which she cites legislation she claims makes her an anti-tax advocate? What is the status of the bills she cites in the ad? How many of them passed, or even got a hearing? What did she do besides put her name on them?
Bachmann cites SF 1400, the "Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force" bill, which she says proves she's concerned about child sexual predators on the internet. Why don't you ask her how that legislation has fared. How many hearings did it get? What did Bachmann do to advance it?
Bachmann says education is her number one issue. Yet she takes $50,000 in contributions from people who want to get rid of all public education. When is the MSM going to ask her about that little contradiction?
Until you start asking the hard questions of Michele Bachmann, I wouldn't get too huffy about Wetterling ignoring your demands.
I like MPR so much I listen to it online while away at school. That being said I find the timing of this post a bit awkward. Why now when there have been left unasked so many other and significantly much more important questions?
Questions regarding our survival as a free country, as a country of Laws, and the survival of our Civil Rights. Questions about why the House Chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children just happens to have been caught exploiting children? While the House leadership, that knew about it a year ago, did nothing?
You had so many other chances to be a "REAL" journalist, why did you not take them? Why now?
I'd second Karl's question. Why hasn't Bachmann's bio been updated to relect reality?
Also, I'd like to challenge you to ask Bachmann about her record on TABOR. Larry Poggemiller has given her more than one opportunity to have TABOR heard in committee. Bachmann has not availed herself of that opportunity.
Bills don't get passed in the legislature by getting introduced with a press conference. They get passed by the hard work of legislators who go to committee meetings, review the legislation, work with their colleagues, mark stuff up.
Michele's two legislative gop opponents, Jim Knoblach and Phil Krinkie were two hard working legislators. I didn't always agree with what they stood for, but they worked hard, and used the process. Knoblach was more of a team player than Krinkie.
There's a reason why Michele Bachmann isn't liked by her colleagues in either party. They know her best.
Jason, those are fine questions. But right now Patty Wetterling isn't running against Dennis Hassert. Patty Wetterling isn't running a missing persons organization.
Patty Wetterling is running against Michele Bachmann and she had a CHANCE to today to get a free advertisement by having a good answer to a question.
She booted it.
I realize politicians don't like reporters, I realize some of you don't like reporters. But politicians who don't know how to turn their questions into opportunities to get a message out, don't usually win elections.
I admire your passion for Wetterling but there's another truism about campaigns. People like you don't matter to a candidate anymore. You've decided. You're a supporter.
The job at this stage of the campaign is convincing the people who aren't...but who might be. Hard to do that when you look like you are afraid of the question....or your own answer.
What Foley did stinks. Bigtime. What the Republicans appear to have done is scandalous.
And none of that is relevant to Patty Wetterling's mission of going to Congress if she forgets that her opponent right now is Michele Bachmann.
//There's a reason why Michele Bachmann isn't liked by her colleagues in either party. They know her best.
Patty Wetterling could've scored some big points today by making the sound bite reflect that point.
But she didn't.
Missed opportunities lose elections.
You're irking your base, Mr. Collins. Good luck and God speed.
Thanks, Paul. But I don't have a base. I'm not running for anything. I don't have a vested interest in any campaign or election. I like "exploring the world of politics."
Part of that world is observing the action of candidates and if some observation irks supporters of that candidate, then that comes with the territory. Sometimes we are made uncomfortable.
Like I said, this is the part of the campaign where nerves are frayed and there are hair trigger moments. But Polinaut isn't here to provide political salve.
Good luck and God speed to you as well.
Bob, you seized one question and sidestepped the others.
You so far have refused to respond to requests to correct your inaccurate bio of Michele Bachmann. Why? Will you explain your decision to post inaccurate information on MPR's election website? We're only asking you to be fair about this.
This is how MPR lists Bachmann's occupation on the Campaign 2006 website:
State Senator. Tax litigation attorney.
This is how MPR lists Wetterling's:
Founder of Jacob Wetterling Foundation. Former math teacher. Executive recruiter and consultant.
So why isn't Bachmann a "former tax litigation attorney?" Or a "former IRS tax lawyer," which is more accurate. Why the double standard here? Is this something we should be taking up wiith the news staff and not Polinaut?
My comments are not directed at Patty Wetterling, or Michelle Bachman, but rather at Tom Scheck who chose today to become a real reporter, by asking a question about a topic so far removed from the topic being discussed, which also happens to be an extremely important topic, he ignored the important topic and went out into left field.
Tom, your opportunity to be a real reporter passed you up about 6 years ago, it is too late now.
Bob Collins say "I admire your passion for Wetterling but there's another truism about campaigns. People like you don't matter to a candidate anymore. You've decided. You're a supporter."
My goodness, has MPR journalism become so naive? Candidates don't need supporters? I don't know how many campaigns you've covered, but every campaign I've seen needed supporters to raise money, hammer in lawnsigns, volunteer on the phones, and do all the other nuts and bolts parts of a winning campaign. That's why so many politicians worry about "losing their base."
It seems that when MPR covers Pawlenty and company, staying on the issue at hand is considered staying focussed. With Wetterling it is now dodging a question. Sounds like MPR is developing a consistency problem.
Jason, you should probably read the post again. It was Tim Pugmire who asked Wetterling the question.
But contrary to the impression one might get on this thread, it wasn't INSTEAD of the Foley scandal, it was in ADDITION to. In fact, as Tom said, it was AFTER the news conference.
The story that Tim turned in to the radio today was Wetterling talking about the Foley scandal. The story I ended up using on one Current cast this afternoon, was Wetterling on the Foley scandal.
So she got PLENTY of air time on the subject she wanted air time on and you, presumably, wanted air time on . She also got one posting on a blog, which -- for the record -- exists specifically for such things. Polinaut is not the front page ... thta's what the front page is for. Polinaut is a place for observations that often don't make the front page.
Tom is a real reporter. A real fine reporter.
He's got the guts to write something that he knows is going to upset some people. And he does so while signing his FULL name.
//My goodness, has MPR journalism become so naive? Candidates don't need supporters?
Of course they need supporters. But they already have you. They don't need to pacify you. They need to attract MORE supporters...more voters. That's what all the money-raising, phone calling, leaflet dropping is for.
Everything you're doing -- assuming you're a supporter -- is aimed at one person: the one who's not.... yet.
Yes, that makes them the most important consideration at this stage of the campaign.
So, I have to leave my Full Name now to be considered a worthy poster?
Where were Toms guts when our civil rights were being taken away?
Where were Toms guts when we were lied to about the Iraq War?
Where were Toms guts when...
Do you see my point? It appears to me that Tom Pugmire and Tom Scheck picked an easy target today in the middle of a much larger and significantly more important storm.
When is MPR going to ask Bachmann about her promoting and writing legislation for PRT?
MPR did a couple of stories on PRT and even quoted Bachmann a few years ago....
Why Has Bachmann's promotion of PRT gone down the memory hole?
BC: //There's a reason why Michele Bachmann isn't liked by her colleagues in either party. They know her best.
Patty Wetterling could've scored some big points today by making the sound bite reflect that point.
But she didn't.
Missed opportunities lose elections.
Posted by Bob Collins
EY: My point is this - it's the press's job to cover this aspect of Michele Bachmann - and if they aren't doing that, they are failing in their job of informing voters.
While I agree that Corey Day was out of line, and Patty should have told him, he was out of line, and talked to Pugmire, it's also true that you have been asked to correct the Michele Bachmann biography - and for some reason, are refusing to do so.
The NRCC put out an ad about Patty Wetterling's position on taxes that contains distortions. This ad has been playing on TV more than any other single ad. In looking over the Polinaut archive for September, there is one entry (9-26) that addresses this ad - by repeating the entire text and then printing one short statement of what the Wetterling campaign had to say about it.
The MPR blogger in this case did not take anyone to task. The blogger let each side speak for itself. Why so understated when it comes to a questionable Republican ad, but overtly critical of a Democrat for "not defending" one of her ads? As Karl said, Bachmann isn't even being asked these kinds of questions.
I have to ask - Is this because Polinaut is trying to curry favor with conservatives?
Last month Polinaut was trying to attract bloggers to an election night event, and had no trouble getting liberal bloggers to sign on, but had trouble getting an equal number of conservatives:
"So we're full up, I think on the one side of the spectrum, but we're on a low tank on the right side. And I'm guessing if we went with the lineup as constituted, we'd be providing fodder for...well... you know.
"So if you're a bigtime conservative blogger -- or even a little-time conservative blogger -- and aren't completely afraid of the possibility that someone might put you on the radio and the Web video and audio would be beamed to the corners of the earth, drop me a note.
Don't make me beg."
I wouldn't mind the MSM being tough on my candidate if I saw they were equally tough on the other side. When will we start to see Bachmann held accountable?
//So, I have to leave my Full Name now to be considered a worthy poster?
Of course not. But Tom is stand-up guy who's got his jaw out there for you to hit. Sure, that's part of his job. When it comes to doing it, or taking a pass and shutting up, he does it. And I'm sure that seems like nothing to a lot of people. So be it.
I'll remind him he's responsible for deceiving you on the war in Iraq. I don't know how he let that slip, him being based out of the basement of the Minnesota state Capitol, where apparently the whole scheme was hatched.
//When will we start to see Bachmann held accountable?
Patty Wetterling -- who is running against Michele Bachmann -- had an opportunity to turn the spotlight back to Michele Bachmann. She declined.
That's not a crime. I don't happen to think it's very good politics, but it's not a crime.
She wanted to talk about Foley instead. She got coverage for Foley. Good for her. Maybe it'll swing some voters her way. We'll see.
As for the bloggers, we're probably split pretty evenly right now, although from what i rad today, just about everybody has taking cash from somebody, so I'm actually wondering whether it's worth putting "independent" bloggers on the air at all.
As for me currying favor with conservative bloggers, apparently you don't read consevative bloggers.
Bob, I dont want to hit either of the Toms. What I want is a little truth, honesty, and fairness in reporting. Being out of state I am a little out of touch with the intricate details of MPRs news coverage of the Race betweeen Wetterling and Bachman, but I have no reason to doubt the posters above when they ask why Bachman is not being held to the same standard?
MPR, and the Toms, are making a mountain out of a really insignificant mole hill here while ignoring the mountain range that has been building behind them for 6 years, or more.
As I said earlier, the opportunity to be a real reported passed you guys up 6 years ago, but dont worry, it passed everyone else up as well.
If you want to make up for it, start paying atttention to the mountain range that has been building behind you and your little mole hill.
Bob, you're wrong. Only a very few lucky bloggers are being paid to blog.
I don't say that's good or bad. Apparently someone thinks they've earned it.
Most of us aren't being paid to blog. And some of us do use our real names.
Two points regarding Bachman's resume:
1. If they are federal government employees, lawyers are not required to be members of the bar in any particular state, rather just to be a member of a bar. A former associate of mine was a member of the Illinois bar, but had no difficulty getting a job as a government attorney here, nor was he required to gain admission to the Minnesota bar.
2. Per our oath and ethical obligations, lawyers are always lawyers - even if not practicing. It goes along with being a member of the bar. Getting hung up on Bachman's resume stating that she is a tax lawyer is like getting hung up on calling Howard Dean a doctor. He still is, even if not practicing, and is entitled to call himself such.
Seems like the Wetterling campaign has compounded one mistake - running an inaccurate ad - with another - not explaining why they continue to run the ad. As has been said before, there is so much truth about Bachmann that needs to be publicized, why use an untruth to attack? Its ludicrous. To then beg off an explanation, saying "I'll address it later" - and then not address the question later - is weak. I don't see how that kind of campaigning will build support in the 6th.
Wetterling certainly has impeccable credentials in child safety. But given that child safety is probably not the top issue voters are considering in this cycle, she might consider diversifying her message a bit.
At least two other bloggers have now posted separately about this post, Eva Young at dumpbachmann.com and Jeff Kouba at Bachmann v. Wetterling, where I first saw the issue mentioned. I left a comment there and at DB, and will simply repost the comment I put at DB so others can react if they wish - and I append one afterthought:
Jeff Kouba, at BvW, has posted on this situation also, in a fairly objective way. Rather than linking readers over to there where so far I've entered the only comment, I will paste it here because although it overlaps Karl's point, the press should press both candidates; it is more about ducking issues and timing of when to act or react, and how voters must weigh that, than it is about press inconsistency. So to Jeff at BvW:
"Wetterling has no obligation to speak except when she wants to. That is a part of what voters should judge her on, and the same holds for Bachmann.
"The item relied on by Wetterling’s people was published months ago, and Bachmann was on actual or constructive notice. You run for Congress, you know or should know what the largest statewide daily says about you; and if wrong you are obligated to pursue a correction.
"Bachmann was wrongly silent then, or insufficiently vocal and now is overreacting and bleating as if the problem were Wetterling’s fault.
"Judging both by duty to speak, Wetterling should not have ducked the question. She should have said exactly what I just said about Bachmann; and then say that Bachmann is consistently ducking issues; such as exactly what she means regarding a nuclear option against Iran - given that Bachmann has raised that issue, then spell it out, Michele. The same about Bachmann using the “should consider” weasel wording on the federal sales tax idea. Spell out what should be considered, how should parameters be weighed, and what result do you see as optimal - do so once you have made it an issue of yours, as Bachmann had done.
"Or don’t do that, and let voters decide whether it makes you a stronger or weaker candidate by not spelling out details.
"Again, neither of the two candidates need speak the way the other would like, and either can jump the other about it; that’s all traditional politics.
"Where the line is crossed is using or benefiting from outside assassin efforts, NRCC venom ads, and then saying “There’s no blood on my hands;” which somehow does not ring totally true without a renunciation of the mud-slinging along with the “cannot control NRCC” that a campaign functionary, not the candidate, handed out to the press.
"Both Wetterling and Bachmann should avoid ducking issues, or giving the appearance of doing so. You pointed out a Wetterling instance. I pointed out a few Bachmann issues. Also, questions have been published about what the Bachmann position is on contraception - another issue Bachmann ducks."
I shall also cut-paste that thought at Polinaut, as it is appropriate at each site.
Karl posted here earlier: The press should be pressing both candidates, and he mentioned instances.
The instances I mentioned at BvW before reading Karl's comment here fit with Karl's thinking.
Why is Bachmann not approached by the Polinault, and confronted for a contraception position, for example, with any non-response criticized in like fashion to this posted Wetterling critique?
All the animals on Animal Farm are equal, aren't they?
Nice of you to respond for Bob Collins, North Shore. It's too bad he's not capable of addressing this issue himself. Unfortunately, he's now treating the MPR Campaign 2006 page like his own personal blog. I wouldn't trust anything I read on that site now.
As for your explanation of why bachmann should still be dignified with the title of "tax litigation attorney": Because lawyers say they are lawyers for life, no matter how little they've practiced law, we are supposed to treat them that way? Sorry, the rest of us lowly non-lawyers don't play by the rules you make up.
Finally, you got it wrong in your attempt to chastise us for not respecting lawyers-for-life. No one ever raised the issue of whether Bachmann is a member of the Minnesota bar. What is at issue is the fact that she is "not authorized" to practice law in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota courts. I don't know why, but she's not.
But I'm sure you have a lawyerly response to that as well.
I believe I have stated this here before but will reiterate; Why are you and MPR continually after Patty Wetterling and that stupid ad? Why aren't you asking Bachmann the same things about the NRCC fliers and the RNC television ad that is full of lies about Patty Wetterling? Why is Michele Bachmann held to the same standard? Bachmann is a radical, one thing the Wetterling ad has right and it seems you want to cover it up. Could it be that you are being paid by Michele's campaign?
I am not a paid blogger, I am a citizen of the 6th district and I don't want Michele Bachmann and her hate mongering representing me in Congress.
The Bachmann as tax litigation lawyer situation:
To practice, lawyers must take CLE studies - continuing legal education - so that they are current. I believe the pattern is mirrored in other licensed professions.
I use the example of a plumber. You would not want or trust a plumber to come into your home and monkey with your piping if the plumber has not kept current with changes in the Building Code, and allowed herself to go unlicensed, would you?
CLE requirements likewise are imposed to protect consumers.
Bachmann has declined to keep current. The courts site and the CLE site both show she has a license number, but is not allowed to practice at present, to go into Minnesota courts to represent clients; and that is done by the authorities as a consumer protection measure - to assure competent representation.
What hospital would allow Dr. Dean to enter and operate without privileges; again based on avoidance of malpractice and error - protection of consumers of medical services, in the Dean instance.
Without CLE, Bachmann is deemed by those having the duty to police the profession as unfit to currently practice. That is fact. That deserves mention. It is not hair-splitting by any means.
As one trained and having passed the bar once, Michele Bachmann simply should know better than to misrepresent her current status.
Misrepresentation of anything, even detail to voters, is not good practice. It shows a lack of good judgment. Hence it matters. Consumers of legal services are protected by CLE policing; so shouldn't voters have some protection from intentional and repeated misrepresentation of professional status when the person repeating such things knows better and should stop? The issue is real.
Ever since Watergate, I've wondered why politicians keep making the same mistake. The scandal comes from the cover-up. And yet they keep making the same mistake and it always blows up in their face.
I could never figure it out, really, other than hubris, but it's more than that.
I think it's that candidates and politicians are surrounded by people whose first instinct is to circle the wagons. Information is to be avoided and all energy must go into a response that does what it can to keep the questions from even being asked in the first place.
Scandal after scandal after scandal survives almost every attempt to bottle it up and refocus the issue on those asking the questions that, with a simple answer, could defuse any one of them.
The information about Bachmann's occupation actually didn't come from Bachmann. Indeed,on her Web site bio,she doesn't mention she's a practicing tax litigator. What she says is :
"Prior to her election to public service, Bachmann worked for 5 years as a tax litigation attorney in the US Federal Tax Court, held in St. Paul, MN. She handled hundreds of cases, both civil and criminal."
That would seem to make clear that there was a finite period of activity.
Her legislative site listed her as a "tax litigation" attorney. My guess is the Webmaster of the Senate site created the page and didn't update it after she, accordingto the Politics in Minnesota directory (which I consider to be an excellent resource) , "left her practice to raise her children and participate in community activities."
I've changed her bio page to "State senator. Former tax litigation attorney."
Also added her religion: Lutheran.
Bob Collins - two things. Bachmann changed the campaign bio because the blogging community blew the whistle, previous wording was different, and when the three MN 6 candidates were on Almanac, she did not say "was" then, in talking about herself. She is continuing it, but selectively not as bluntly.
Second, the circle the wagons mentality, why consider only the politicians in public office; consider the politicians in the Catholic church.
They did the same thing with pedophiles inside the party ranks there until the Sunshine got too intense.
And Watergate - that was Woodward back then as a big player, and now - wow, same guy, pushing for the Pentagon's uniformed interests and Henry Kissinger is being mentioned again as advising about the quagmire.
Some things change and some things remain the same. It is a curious world. I would have thought that with a scaled down manpower situation in a volunteer military the brass would be scaled down too. It seems you keep seeing new generals on the Chiefs of Staff, and they all have lots of stars and big paychecks - wasn't the brass scaled down too?
But that digresses too far from the point - why dump a big load on someone as legitimate as Patty Wetterling when there's a more appropriate target who packed the GOP caucus process with zealots to torpedo others who were hard working dutiful legislators; and that caucus packer is not nearly as aggressive now on some of her core conservative fundamentalist issues. And her changing her website is with the media commentary about what it now says rather than about the whys and wherefores concerning how it got changed.
Bob - What is the Bachmann position on Plan B, and on contraception in general? Voters should know, so someone should ask, yes/no?
//Second, the circle the wagons mentality, why consider only the politicians in public office; consider the politicians in the Catholic church.
Good point. I haven't stopped to consider whether ALL scandal arises from cover-up or just political scandal.
I've changed her bio page to "State senator. Former tax litigation attorney."
Thanks Bob. That wasn't so hard was it?
If you need any more help with Michele's bio or background, just give us a holler. We're here to help! Meanwhile, check out Michele's wikipedia entry or www.thebachmannrecord.com for more tidbits of enlightenment.
Eric Zaetsch asks "All the animals on Animal Farm are equal, aren't they?"
As I recall, some are more equal than others.
This thread might be a good one for a reporter's roundtable to review. Clearly the reporters involved seem to think there is some kind of significant issue in Wetterling not immediately answering the question.
Regardless of whether there is an actual issue here or whether a reporter's ego is suffering a bruise, it raises an important meta-issue. Do members of the media realize the degree to which the viewing public believe that media is complicit in supporting the status quo in the form of the Republicans and the Bush Administration?
From this discussion, it appears to me that the answer is "no." It does not appear that those involved from MPR really understand that a lot of us out here think the media gives those in power a free pass, and demands higher standards of challengers than of incumbents. To me, and I think to others, this perception leads to the view that the media are either dependent upon incumbents for stories to the degree that they are unwilling to risk upsetting anyone in power. Either that, or the members of the media are somehow persuaded by their workplaces to avoid rocking the boat of power.
Those involved from MPR see a mote in Wetterling's eye, and the rest of us are suggesting that you get the big beam labelled "conservative lawmakers" out of your own eye. Should you ask Wetterling such questions? Sure. And you should ask Michele Bachmann if she plans on returning money donated to her and raised for her by the Republican Leadership that was covering up for Mark Foley. And after her non-answer, you need to say "That wasn't an answer." And when she lies you need to catch her and call her on it. Etc.
In other words, journalism.
// Do members of the media realize the degree to which the viewing public believe that media is complicit in supporting the status quo in the form of the Republicans and the Bush Administration?
Yes, and it doesn't matter because to worry about how you perceive us is to stop asking questions for fear of hurting your feelings and damaging what you think of us.
And that's not a good thing.
Over the course of time, and I think a review of blogs around here in the last 8 months will show this to be true, we've been pilloried by both Republicans and Democrats for being soft on their opponents.
They charge us with bias. In fact, the bias is most often held by the reader.
Ask yourself, who's got a horse in this race? It's usually the reader.
Ask yourself again. Change the name Patty Wetterling to Michele Bachmann in this thread, and would you be so quick to rule a question out of order?
There are two different threads here. There's the one thread that complains we're not asking Michele Bachmann the same questions. And there's the one that complains that we're asking Patty Wetterling one at all.
It's true, I think everyone agrees, that the media -- fearful of being labelled as unpatriotic -- did not do its job on the run-up to Iraq.
But think about how that manifested itself. They didn't ask questions.
When you stop asking questions, and when you worry about whether someone will still like you in the morning, you're not doing your job.
So if you're going to demand reporters ask question and be tough on politicians, you can't complain when they are and say they shouldn't.
There are usually two interests involved: the interests in telling a story vs. the interests of people to protect their own interests. I'm not much interested in the latter.
How've the Republicans been doing today with the latter?