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Star Tribune’s official response to Butthurtgate

by The Big E on October 10, 2012 · 5 comments

Do not contact us!

The Minneapolis Star Tribune does not like criticism. And they have no ombudsman. They fired him/her in one of their rounds of staff clear-outs. They just want to continue their incomplete and biased coverage of Michele Bachmann in peace. I have the gall to try and elicit a response to their reporters unprofessional behavior and their failure as journalists.

Here’s the story.

Bill Prendergast and I have been criticizing the Minneapolis Star Tribune for many years. We claim that they have never fact check Michele Bachmann and often don’t cover what Bachmann says and either minimize, bury or fail to report stories about Bachmann.

So when reporter Jennifer Brooks wrote a puff piece about Bachmann’s tightening congressional race, Bill criticized her story. She surprised us both by starting Butthurtgate with the following tweet:

@BillPrendergast Aw, pumpkin. I am butthurt that you didn’t link to my Jim Graves story too. http://bit.ly/UvAobz

Bill followed up with a post and I tweeted about it. Normal stuff. But Brooks responded to me.

Eric Pusey @eric_pusey 2 Oct 12
More on @stribrooks and Star Tribune’s failure to do basic political journalism bit.ly/Wfo9zJ #stribpol #mnleg #occupymn

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks
Here you go, @eric_pusey. I’m going to need you to get that back to me in triplicate by the morning. bit.ly/10zbLv

Click on her URL and you go to this report:

I then wrote an email (complete version below the fold) to publisher Michael J. Klingensmith, Editor and Senior Vice President Nancy Barnes, Political Editor Patricia Lopez and Brooks. I cc’ed Rachel Stassen-Berger. I asked if Brooks’ response was the official response of the Strib and inquired about their professional standards.

Brooks responded via email.

Aw, pumpkin.  Come to my office and we’ll have some tea and hug it out.

Mad love,

Jennifer Brooks
Reporter, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Once again I’m guessing this wasn’t the official response.

The publisher didn’t reply. The Editor didn’t reply. Patricia Lopez did.

Mr. Pusey,

Thanks for your email.

Star Tribune journalists are expected to respond with civility even on those occasions when their critics do not subject themselves to the same standard.

Sorry you didn’t like the story. We stand by it.

Thanks for reading.

Patricia Lopez
Political Editor
Star Tribune

This wasn’t a very clear response. Brooks’ piece was factually correct. I wasn’t questioning that.

It’s as if I’d asked why the Strib didn’t write about the Emperor parading around naked and Lopez responded that they stand by their story that there was an Imperial parade and the weather was warm and sunny.

Furthermore, Brooks hadn’t sworn at me so I guess her behavior meets their professional standards?

So I wrote a follow up email (see below). I never got a response to my follow up.

When Brooks wrote a piece fact-checking Jim Graves over a board he did not sit on (Graves admits the error), I sent a tweet and then another and, after I still had no response, sent an email. I wasn’t happy that they’d fact check Graves but never Bachmann.

Eventually, when I didn’t get any response, I went to the Strib’s website and found Lopez’ contact information:

And I called her up cell phone to try and elicit a response.

Here’s my transcript that I wrote down immediately after the call ended:

I introduced myself and said I was following up on my tweets and emails.

Me: “Since the Star Tribune just fact checked Jim Graves, will you cover Michele Bachmann’s Obama Libya conspiracy theory?”

Lopez: “You’ve contacted me on twitter, email and now you’ve called my cell phone. This has to end. Stop contacting me.”

Me: “So your response to my question about whether you will cover this Bachmann story is to stop contacting you?”

Lopez: “You must stop contacting me.”

Me: “So your response to my question about when you will start fact checking Michele Bachmann is that I should no longer contact you?”

Lopez: “I know you’re trying to make something out of this. We’re just going to cover this election”

Click

I didn’t get to ask if she thought Jennifer Brooks behavior met their professional standards. I’m guessing she doesn’t want me to ask about that, either.
Complete first email:

Nancy,

I am writing to find out if Jennifer Brooks response is the official response of the Minneapolis Star Tribune to criticism of the Star Tribune and its coverage of Michele Bachmann. Bill Prendergast and I have been criticizing the Star Tribune’s coverage of Bachmann for many years. We have never received a response and were quite surprised when Brooks responded.

Earlier this week, Bill Prendergast wrote a blog post critical of Brooks at MN Progressive Project and cross-posted it at Daily Kos. The third item below is Brooks’ original article.

http://www.mnprogressiveprojec…

http://www.dailykos.com/story/…

http://www.startribune.com/pol…

Brooks responded to Prendergast on twitter:

@BillPrendergast Aw, pumpkin. I am butthurt that you didn’t link to my Jim Graves story too. http://bit.ly/UvAobz
https://twitter.com/stribrooks…

City Pages noted Prendergast’s post and Brooks response:

http://blogs.citypages.com/blo…

Prendergast responded:

http://www.mnprogressiveprojec…

I engaged Brooks on twitter. Here are two of our exchanges:

http://twitter.com/eric_pusey/…
http://twitter.com/stribrooks/…

Would you please answer two questions:

1.  Is Brooks’ juvenile responses the official response of the Minneapolis Star Tribune to this criticism?

2.  Does the Star Tribune have professional standards for how their journalists are supposed to interact with critics?

Bill or I will be writing a post about this on Monday evening, please respond by 3pm on Monday, October 8, 2012.

Thanks!

Here’s my response to Lopez:

Patricia,

Thanks for responding.

I’m still unclear. Do you consider Jennifer Brooks response to Bill Prendergast and my criticism to meet your professional standards.

Secondly, why does the Star Tribune never fact-check Michele Bachmann?

Thanks!

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