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October 16, 2006
The Failure Of Local Media On The Ellison-Fine Race

Over the weekend, we had an opportunity to interview Rochelle Olson from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, who wrote a rather amazing article about the Republican candidate for Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District, Alan Fine, a little over a week ago. The interview exposed the thinking behind the editorial decisions of the local media, in the stories they cover and the stories they do not, and the facts they decide to publish and those they do not. We'll come back to that story in a moment.

Today's Front Page Magazine article provides an example of the sins of omission in the local media on this race. Over the weekend, DFL candidate Keith Ellison attended an event sponsored by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Pembroke Pines, Florida. One might wonder why a politician from Minnesota running for Congress in Minneapolis would take a weekend off less than a month before the election, and Joe Kaufman tried to find out:

At the beginning of this month, I received an e-mail about a lecture that was taking place on October 14th at the Southwest Focal Point Senior Center, located in Pembroke Pines, Florida. The event was being sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the Keynote Speaker was listed as Keith Ellison, a candidate for United States Congress from Minnesota and a man that has raised thousands of dollars through CAIR. Our group, Americans Against Hate, planned to be there and welcome him in protest. All was fine, until we attempted to sit in on the event.

When I received the e-mail concerning the lecture, I wanted to corroborate the information to make sure that it was correct. I searched the Internet. I found nothing. I went onto CAIR’s and CAIR-Florida’s websites – nothing. I went onto Keith Ellison’s campaign website – nothing. Details about this event were nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t until I spoke with someone from the Pembroke Pines Police Department that I found out the information was indeed accurate. Questions popped up in my head: Why is this event being made a secret? Why is a Congressional Candidate from Minnesota campaigning in South Florida? And right before the election? ...

We obtained the permit, and the protest went on as planned. What we were protesting was the fact that Keith Ellison had accepted campaign donations from CAIR officials. We were also protesting Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Jim Davis for doing the same. Ellison had taken money from CAIR’s National Executive Director Nihad Awad, CAIR’s National Chairman Parvez Ahmed, and CAIR’s Government Affairs Director Corey Saylor. Jim Davis had accepted money from CAIR-Florida’s Communications Director Ahmed Bedier. Given CAIR’s ties to the terrorist organization Hamas, given the fact that four CAIR representatives have previously been charged by the U.S. government with terrorist activity, and given the fact that CAIR is being sued for its role in the attacks on 9/11, we believed our case was strong.

Kaufman and his group held their protest outside the public-owned senior center, videotaped by a CAIR operative, while Ellison gave the keynote speech to the CAIR conference. Despite the center's status as a public forum, Kaufman was denied access to the CAIR event. No one knows what Ellison had to say to CAIR, but one can readily suppose that he wasn't criticizing their connections to terrorist groups. After all, he could have done that from here.

No one in Minneapolis knew about this meeting, because the Minneapolis Star Tribune didn't have the curiosity of Joe Kaufman. They don't believe that a Congressional candidate's support for a group connected to Hezbollah and Hamas merits any news coverage, even when the candidate sneaks out of town less than four weeks before the election to give the keynote speech at the group's conference.

So what is newsworthy to the Strib? A story about an eleven-year-old arrest for a domestic disturbance that never resulted in an indictment, let alone a conviction, against Fine. During our interview on the radio this weekend, Mitch and I tried to get Olson to explain two decisions: the editorial assessment of this as a valid news story and the decision to leave out the fact that Fine was never indicted nor convicted for any kind of assault. The Strib also left out of the initial reporting that Fine's ex-wife got arrested twice later on suspicion of abusing their son and that a protection order had to be taken out against her on the son's behalf. In a state that tilts hard against the efforts of fathers seeking custody, Fine has joint custody of their son and had sole physical custody for a significant period of time.

All of these facts, which provides a much different context than that supplied by Olson, got left out of the story on October 7th. When asked about this, Olson replied that the Strib had space limitations and had to decide which facts would make the editorial cut. Every mitigating fact about Fine was edited out of the story, and every salacious and sensational allegation was included, no matter how little evidence supported it.

So we have Ellison meeting with terrorist sympathizers, a description by no less of an authority than Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, and the Strib sniffs. We also have a gossipy and unproven allegation made by an ex-wife and her father (a Family Court judge), and the Strib rushes that to print, stripped of all context and exculpatory information.

That's the local media here in the Twin Cities. That's the editorial incompetence of the Star Tribune. That's why voters in MN-05 have to consider their vote carefully three weeks from now. If you think that reading our local press has informed you of the candidates in this race, think again. You owe it to yourself to read Power Line, where Scott Johnson has done the work that the Star Tribune should have been doing all along.

Tomorrow, Townhall will have the podcast of our second hour available so that you can listen to our series of interviews on this subject. We interviewed Rochelle Olson, Scott Johnson, and Alan Fine, and our listeners got a much better grip on this story as a result. We'd love to have Ellison on our show, but we'd have to tear him away from his power base ... among Florida's terrorist sympathizers.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 16, 2006 7:22 PM

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» CAIR’s Sock Puppet Keith Ellison Hides Activities in Florida‘Righty’ Journos/Blogs Snooze from Plus + Ultra
What are CAIR and their front man Keith Eillison (running for U.S. House of Representatives) Minnesota so afraid of the public seeing? While the majority of “righty” pundits and blogs stand around with their fists up their ass, Powerline an... [Read More]

Tracked on October 16, 2006 10:44 PM

» CAIR Contributions from Gulf Coast Pundit
A must read on what our politicians are doing, and what the MSM is not telling us. We obtained the permit, and the protest went on as planned. What we were protesting was the fact that Keith Ellison had accepted campaign donations from CAIR officials. ... [Read More]

Tracked on October 16, 2006 10:47 PM


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