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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Humphrey Institute Soap Opera

Christopher Mitchell, a student at the Humphrey Institute wrote a letter to the editor to the Strib disputing Dane Smith's coverage of the issue.


Strib sinks to blog's level

The Star Tribune's Jan. 24 coverage of the e-mail seeking policy students from the Humphrey Institute to work with Al Franken was below the Star Tribune's standards. It was biased and misleading.

Its most outrageous claim is that Professor Sally Kenney was using "a taxpayer funded tool not available to competing campaigns. ... It crossed the line into clear advocacy." Not only are we, the students, tools available to competing campaigns, we welcome any relevant opportunities to do policy work regardless of partisan affiliation. If you have such an opportunity, contact Career Services in the Graduate Programs Office.

Additionally, the e-mail did not even approach "the line into clear advocacy."

From what I can tell, the Star Tribune essentially republished an existing story on a blog known for biased and shoddy reporting. If it attempted to gather actual facts related to the story, it failed.

As a blogger myself, I'm sorry to see the worst of print and online journalism combined in this manner.


Christopher also blogged about the issue on his personal blog, Shadow Eyes. I met with Christopher on Monday at lunch to talk with him about the situation.

Graham Lampa and Chris Mitchell comment over on the Drama Queen's post about the HHH listserv soap opera here.

According to Graham Lampa, the Dean of the Humphrey Institute claims he was misquoted by Dane Smith:

Dean Atwood of the Institute has assured me in a meeting I had with him today that Sally Kenney did not do anything wrong and that he was misquoted in the Star Tribune article–he was not upset with her actions but rather with *yours* (that he had to respond to this kind of baseless attack at all in the first place).

There's a Minnesota Daily article about all this also.

Sally Kenney was quoted:

Kenney identified herself as a "very modest supporter" of Franken but would not speak further at the request of Franken's campaign. An unnamed official announced Wednesday evening Franken's intention to run for U.S. Senate in 2008.

According to the Humphrey Institute's computing policy, the unmoderated personal listserv is "where you send For Sale, opinion e-mails or other personal items."

Kenney likened the listserv to a notice board.

"We don't censor for content and there has not been a policy that electoral politics is forbidden," she said, calling herself a "conduit for that kind of information."

It's interesting that the Franken campaign asked her not to comment in detail.

I'm quoted in the article also. I had subscribed to the list after I read the Strib and AP coverage to see what the listserv was about. A list manager had called me the next day to ask me why I wanted to get on the list, and I said it was because I had read about a message posted on the list from the AP and Strib story, and wanted to check things out for myself.