Sunday, November 12, 2006

Did you just justify that remark? 

Randy Krebs, editorial page editor at the St. Cloud Times, points out that Forum Communications, which owns the Duluth News Tribune as well as several other Minnesota papers, had identical endorsements. That story has fluttered about the lefty blogs for awhile, and I can understand the point. But I think Randy -- whom I know, and from whom I would not have expected such a comment -- says this:
Few things shocked me more this election season than when my hometown newspaper, the Duluth News Tribune, endorsed Tim Pawlenty for governor.

Why? For starters, Duluth is as solid DFL ground as St. Cloud is Republican turf. And that doesn't even begin to count the decidedly "blue" Iron Range. And generally, the paper's Our Views have reflected that.

Plus, Hatch is a hometown boy. Given those factors, Hatch getting the News Tribune Editorial Board's endorsement seemed as certain as the aerial lift bridge coming down after it goes up.

...In Duluth's case, this fully explains for me why my peers at the News Tribune endorsed Pawlenty. Not to mention it gives me a good hunch as to why Hatch, in the closing days of the campaign, insulted a reporter who works for a newspaper owned by the same corporation that now owns the News Tribune.
Does Krebs justify Hatch's reference to a Forum Communications' owned newspaper reporter as a "Republican whore"? That's an unacceptable comment for a candidate for higher office no matter what the circumstances (as I recall, the Times endorsed Pawlenty, citing Hatch's temperament as one of its reasons.) And Krebs even acknowledges that the Forum reporters are not directed to write certain stories.
Initially, I was glad Forum purchased the News Tribune. I'd read some good journalism in several Forum papers. Heck, the Times even hired some of its talent.

But now I'm not so sure about Forum. Don't get me wrong. There are some superb journalists at the News Tribune. And because I still see their bylines regularly, I have no reason to believe "corporate" is telling them what to cover and what not to cover.
I have no problem with criticism of Forum Communications' endorsement policy, and I think Krebs' point warrants attention. But he damages it with this gratuitous comment about Mike Hatch's behavior.