South Dakota Politics
A University of South Dakota law student's blog dedicated primarily to shining light (either a harsh, unyielding spotlight or a soft, warm glow) on figures and institutions in South Dakota.


Saturday, June 14, 2003  

Howard Bashman provides links to Indian Country Today and its recent special edition entitled "American Indian nations and American law - a primer."

posted by Jason | 3:45 PM
 

David Kranz reports that John Thune has suspended his advocacy group, South Dakotans for Responsible Government, due to uncertainty about the new campaign finance law. The US Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the law in September.

posted by Jason | 3:42 PM
 

Mike Madden of the Argus Leader Washington Bureau reports on the financial disclosures of South Dakota's two Democratic senators.

posted by Jason | 3:33 PM
 

Follow this link for information on judgeship vacancies on the federal judiciary.

posted by Jason | 3:06 PM


Friday, June 13, 2003  

The AP published a list of financial disclosures of Senate leaders and chairmen and ranking members of Senate committees today:


Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., Senate Democratic leader.

Earned income: $166,700.

Honoraria, all donated to charity: None.

Major assets: Bank account, $100,001-$250,000; credit union account, $50,001-$100,000; Fidelity investment fund, $50,001-$100,000.

Major sources of unearned income: Interest and dividends from bank and mutual-fund accounts, $10,420-$32,402.

Major liabilities: None.

Gifts: None.

Narrative: Daschle's wife, Linda, is a lobbyist with the firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman and Caldwell. A former deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, she has represented airlines and aerospace companies, among other clients.


UPDATE: The AP has a follow-up story to this. Excerpt:

Frist, R-Tenn., who lists blind trusts worth up to $31 million, is surrounded by colleagues who enjoy substantial wealth from successful private careers, family riches or wealthy spouses.

posted by Jason | 5:41 PM
 

Perhaps this blog is a good model for scrutinizing the Argus Leader and its coverage of Democratic politicians.

posted by Jason | 5:31 PM
 

Jeff Gannon of Talon News has a new piece today on Argus Leader bias. A particularly intriguing excerpt:


An insider at the Argus Leader told Talon News of "a siege mentality" that has developed in the newsroom.

Read the whole thing.

posted by Jason | 5:22 PM


Thursday, June 12, 2003  

Wow, this week has been exhilarating. On Tuesday, SDP set a new record for unique hits, a cool 512, largely filtered from Andrew Sullivan's link to High Plains Observer. Speaking of which, High Plains Observer has some interesting stuff up. And of course don't miss our new blogger buddy Ryne McClaren. HPO also has a link to Omaha World Herald editorial writer Geitner Simmons' excellent blog Regions of Mind.

posted by Jason | 8:17 PM


Wednesday, June 11, 2003  

South Dakota native and current Nebraska blogger Ryne McClaren joins in the scrutiny of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

posted by Jason | 7:54 PM
 

AP WATCH: At noon, I linked to an AP story on Linda Daschle that had been posted on the Aberdeen American News website. Now the story has vanished, and been replaced by a "correction." Luckily, I have a hard copy of the original story:


Linda Hall Daschle's clients include Boeing
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Records show that Lobbyist Linda Hall Daschle has worked for five years for Boeing Corp., which wants Congress to approve a $16 billion plan to lease its planes to be Air Force refueling tankers.

Daschle and her firm, Baker, Donelson, Bearman & Caldwell, have been registered lobbyists for Boeing since 1998, congressional records show.

Daschle is a former deputy administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration and the wife of Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the Senate
Democratic leader.

Linda Hall Daschle does not lobby senators on behalf of her clients.

Last month, Boeing won a Pentagon contract under which the government would lease 100 modified 767 jetliners from the company. The deal includes a $4
billion option that would allow the government to buy the leased planes later.

Backers, including the Bush administration, say the arrangement allows the Air Force to replace aging tankers sooner than planned. Critics call it "an apparent sweetheart deal" and contend the cost is higher than modernizing the current fleet or buying the new planes outright.

The above story has vanished completely, never to be seen again, and been replaced by this:

Newspaper: Linda Hall Daschle's [sic] doesn't handle military issues
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - A correction to a newspaper story on Wednesday said Linda Hall Daschle, who has worked for five years as a lobbyist for Boeing Corp., does not handle military issues.

The New York Times referred to Daschle's work for the company in a Tuesday story on a $16 billion Air Force contract that is awaiting congressional approval. The newspaper corrected the story on Wednesday to clarify that she works on commercial issues only.

Daschle and her firm, Baker, Donelson, Bearman & Caldwell, have been registered lobbyists for Boeing since 1998, congressional records show.

Daschle is a former deputy administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration and the wife of Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the Senate Democratic leader.

Linda Hall Daschle does not lobby senators on behalf of her clients.

If you do a Google News search with the term "Linda Daschle" the second link that pops up has the headline "Linda Hall Daschle's clients include Boeing" and contains a blurb from the old story. But if you click on the link, you get a story with the headline "Newspaper: Linda Hall Daschle's[sic] doesn't handle military issues," and a story about a correction in the New York Times. Obviously, the old story has vanished, and they changed the story so quickly that they forgot to clean up the headline. Dear readers, this is the Orwellian world of Tom Daschle and his friends in the media. They attempted to throw the old story down the memory hole, but they didn't outfox SDP. Clearly, there must have been some frantic damage control in the Daschle camp today. Now watch the Argus Leader do a story on the "correction" tomorrow. Do we really need further evidence of how much the media, locally and nationally, is in cahoots with the Democratic party?

UPDATE: Here is the New York Times "correction:"

An article in Business Day yesterday about opposition to a Bush administration plan to lease air refueling tankers from Boeing referred incorrectly to the company's relationship with Linda Daschle, wife of the Senate minority leader, Tom Daschle. She is a lobbyist for Boeing on commercial aviation issues only, not on military-related matters.

And you can find the sentence from the original story that referred to Linda Daschle here:

In addition, Boeing has hired the lobbyist Linda Daschle, the wife of the Senate minority leader, Tom Daschle, a Democrat, to represent the company on commercial aviation issues.

What exactly needed to be "corrected" here? The offending sentence says quite clearly that Linda Daschle represents the company on commercial aviation issues. Yet the Times claims to have referred incorrectly to Boeing's relationship with Linda Daschle. How wacky is this? A correction of something that was already correct!

DOH!: What I assumed to be the original sentence of the story is in fact an edited sentence. I didn't realize the NYT edited the online edition to reflect the correction. The original sentence is:

"In addition, Boeing has hired the lobbyist Linda Daschle, the wife of the Senate minority leader, Tom Daschle, a Democrat, to represent the company."

I apologize for the "correction of something that was already correct" statement above. I won't make the mistake of assuming that the NYT doesn't edit its online edition to reflect its correction in the following day's paper again.

posted by Jason | 5:49 PM
 

The Associated Press reports on Linda Daschle's lobbying for Boeing. Will the Argus Leader have a story on this tomorrow?

posted by Jason | 12:58 PM


Tuesday, June 10, 2003  

BOMBSHELL: These days, Tom Daschle refuses to release his tax returns. It turns out it was not always thus. According to a Mitchell Daily Republic opinion piece dated October 1, 1982, Tom Daschle did in fact release his tax returns as he was running for South Dakota's lone House seat that year. I wonder why Tom Daschle had a change of heart about reporting his tax returns? We turn to the New York Post story for help in answering this question:


Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, whose wife, Linda, is one of Washington's top lobbyists, also refuses to release his tax returns, and his disclosure form just says her income is "over $1,000" for lobbying for companies like Boeing, Loral and American Airlines.

While the disclosure form says Linda Daschle's income is "over $1000," Insight Magazine gives us a glimpse of just how far over $1000 Linda Daschle's income is:

[L]inda Daschle, now makes out in Washington as a well-connected lobbyist who reportedly draws about $6 million a year from special interests, including airlines looking for huge taxpayer bailouts and other favors.

In light of these reports, I think we get a better idea of why Tom Daschle no longer releases his tax returns. (Via Sibby Online).

posted by Jason | 7:53 PM
 

Remember Argus Leader executive editor Randell Beck's assertion on the Greg Belfrage show that he's keeping a close eye on Linda Daschle's lobbying activities and will report on them when a controversy arises? Well, today's edition of the New York Times contains a story on the sweetheart deal between the Pentagon and Boeing to lease air-refueling tankers. According to the Times, the deal would help Boeing keep its 767 production line alive in the face of declining commercial orders. In the middle of the story is the following sentence:


"In addition, Boeing has hired the lobbyist Linda Daschle, the wife of the Senate minority leader, Tom Daschle, a Democrat, to represent the company."

If the ultra-liberal, scandal-plagued New York Times can do a story that mentions Linda Daschle, I'm sure Randell Beck and David Kranz can muster the wherewithal to follow up. Hence, this story will be added to the "Kranz Watch" hopper.

posted by Jason | 6:29 PM
 

Andrew Sullivan, one of the country's top four bloggers, takes note of the crisis at the Argus Leader.

posted by Jason | 12:47 PM
 

Jeff Gannon, a reporter for Talon News, writes the third piece of his series on bias at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader: South Dakota Reporter Key to Daschle Strategy.

posted by Jason | 12:44 PM


Monday, June 09, 2003  

KRANZ WATCH: The blatant Democratic bias of David Kranz, the so-called dean of South Dakota political reporters, is beginning to draw the attention of observers beyond South Dakota. Here at SDP, I've been documenting Kranz's bias as it relates to Tom Daschle, past and present, since I began this blog in January. I initiated "Kranz Watch" a few months ago, patterned after Andrew Sullivan's "Raines Watch," to more effectively draw attention to Kranz's bias and to pressure Kranz to report current stories about Tom Daschle that were failing, week after week, to appear in Kranz's reports. Kranz consistently reports aggressively about conservative politicians and figures, but his pieces on Tom Daschle can only be characterized as puffery. It is difficult to find a story that Kranz has ever written that casts Tom Daschle in an unfavorable light. As Kranz knows, what is NOT reported is just as important as what IS reported.

Surprisingly, "Kranz Watch" has been effective in getting Kranz to write a paragraph about Tom Daschle's new multi-million dollar home, although Kranz failed to report the other item in that particular "Kranz Watch," the fact that Daschle had again declined to make his tax returns public. In light of Linda Daschle's lucrative lobbying job, the fact that Daschle had just purchased a multi-million dollar home in Washington, D.C., coupled with the fact that Daschle had again refused to make his tax returns public, the house purchase certainly merited more than the five sentences Kranz gave it.

"Kranz Watch" has also been effective in getting Kranz to write a story on Daschle's state-wide polling, which by itself was not a brow-raising event, but conducted within the same time-frame of Daschle's flip-flop on the Iraq war created a story worth reporting. But in typical fashion, Kranz wrote an entire story on the polling, but never mentioned the fact that Daschle's flip-flop had occurred within the same time-frame. Kranz also failed to report that Daschle's pollster, Stan Greenberg, had conducted focus groups in Huron, SD during that same time frame. Also during this time-frame, Kranz vigorously covered the Daschle campaign's assertion that John Thune was breaking campaign finance laws. So while Kranz responded to my "Kranz Watch," he cleverly spun what would have been a story that painted an unflattering portrait of Tom Daschle into something that was essentially a non-story.

In my latest "Kranz Watch" I have listed a number of stories that David Kranz, as the dean of South Dakota political reporters, has a responsibility to report. Kranz responded to one of my items with what I would characterize as a fair story, a practical first for him, at least in regard to Tom Daschle. This item was the appalling ferocity of Daschle campaign manager Steve Hildebrand and his Hooveresque statement that he and his campaign team were gathering embarrassing personal information on Tom Daschle's critics.

Here then is the list of items David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters, has a responsibility to report (by the way, today is Day 14 of the countdown):
1) Daschle campaign manager Steve Hildebrand's Hooveresque (as in J. Edgar Hoover) intimidation of those critical of Tom Daschle.
2) The fact that Daschle plans to run campaign ads this summer, 18 months in front of the election, as reported in a recent Roll Call article. This would be the earliest ever before an election that political campaign ads have aired in South Dakota.
3) Tom Daschle's accidental mix-up of the names of two African-American reporters. If a Republican senator had done this, there would have been an uproar.
4) A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The poll shows that just 17% of the American people see Tom Daschle in a positive light, down five points from the January poll; almost one-third are negative, the rest are neutral or not sure.
5) The 1999 AP story about Linda Daschle's work as a lobbyist for Schering-Plough to extend its patent on the drug Claritin. David Kranz never reported this story, even though the Associated Press thought it merited one. Kranz has cited an AP story about John Thune's present employer having PhRMA as a client:


In addition to working out of his Sioux Falls office former Rep. John Thune will do lobbying work as senior government affairs counselor with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn. A recent Associated Press story said that firm represents the pharmaceutical industry trade group that fought against adding prescription drug benefit to Medicare.

Strangely, Kranz didn't think the 1999 AP story about Linda Daschle and her lobbying work for a pharmaceutical was worth a mention.

Hopefully, as scrutiny of David Kranz's contributions intensifies, Kranz will begin to report fairly and aggressively about politicians on BOTH sides of the political aisle.

posted by Jason | 10:51 PM
 

Sioux Falls talk show host Greg Belfrage follows up yesterday's coverage of Daschle campaign manager Steve Hildebrand's threat to use the politics of personal destruction.

posted by Jason | 7:50 PM


Sunday, June 08, 2003  

Jason Glodt has been named the new executive director of the state Republican Party. Jason also recently won his first political campaign.

posted by Jason | 4:35 PM
 

David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters, reports one of the items listed in the latest SDP countdown in today's edition of the Argus Leader. The remaining items are the following:

1) Daschle campaign manager Steve Hildebrand's Hooveresque (as in J. Edgar Hoover) intimidation of those critical of Tom Daschle.
2) The fact that Daschle plans to run campaign ads this summer, 18 months in front of the election, as reported in a recent Roll Call article. This would be the earliest ever before an election that political campaign ads have aired in South Dakota.
3) Tom Daschle's accidental mix-up of the names of two African-American reporters. If a Republican senator had done this, there would have been an uproar.
4) A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The poll shows that just 17% of the American people see Tom Daschle in a positive light, down five points from the January poll; almost one-third are negative, the rest are neutral or not sure.
5) The 1999 AP story about Linda Daschle's work as a lobbyist for Schering-Plough to extend its patent on the drug Claritin. David Kranz never reported this story, even though the Associated Press thought it merited one. Kranz has cited an AP story about John Thune's present employer having PhRMA as a client:


In addition to working out of his Sioux Falls office former, Rep. John Thune will do lobbying work as senior government affairs counselor with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn. A recent Associated Press story said that firm represents the pharmaceutical industry trade group that fought against adding prescription drug benefit to Medicare.

Strangely, Kranz didn't think the 1999 Linda Daschle AP story about her lobbying work for a pharmaceutical was worth a mention.

posted by Jason | 4:31 PM
 

KRANZ WATCH: Noel Hamiel, the publisher of the Mitchell Daily Republic, contributes an even-handed piece on the connection of flagship South Dakota political reporter David Kranz to Senator Tom Daschle. Mr. Hamiel makes several good points in his column, and I will proceed through some of them and add my own commentary:


Should the bureau chief of The Associated Press for South and North Dakota be asked to step down from her job because she was active in politics at SDSU in the 1970s?
Tena Haraldson not only was a member of the Young Republicans, she worked for the candidates, handing out leaflets and helping with other aspects of political campaigns.
She also dated Larry Pressler.
Does this mean that she should not oversee virtually all of the news that is disseminated in South Dakota to print and broadcast media?


This is a fair point. Tena Haroldson should not step down because of her past connections to Republican politicians. However, Neal Tapio's press release did not demand that David Kranz step down. Tapio merely requested full disclosure, and that in light of Kranz's connection to Daschle and biased reporting on Daschle, Kranz be walled off from reporting on Tom Daschle.

A reporter’s work should be judged on its merits today, and last month, and tomorrow, not his political activities while he was in college 40 years ago.

I agree with this point and contend that David Kranz's work IS being judged on its merits today, and last month, etc. David Kranz's work is often biased, and one need only scroll downward and look through the archives of this blog for documentation. Perhaps what is most damning about Kranz's reporting is what he doesn't report. As I have often stated, what is NOT reported is just as important as what IS reported. In examining the reports of David Kranz through the years, as I have, one will rarely find a report that contains negative information about Tom Daschle. When a reporter's bias is uncovered, as it has been here, particularly as it relates to a political figure such as Tom Daschle, it becomes important to know whether a relationship has ever existed between the two, and to question whether it continues to exist. Judging Kranz's reporting through the years up to the present day (although lately it has improved somewhat, due to the pressure of many people who have lost their patience), Kranz's political activities in 1968, 35 years ago, become relevant today.

At the same time, newspapers should have no reservations about their reporters’ backgrounds being made public. Newspapers need to be accountable. It’s about watching the watchdog.

Newspapers absolutely must be held accountable, just as any other institution in a democracy must be. I applaud Mr. Hamiel for making this point, and hope that all other newspaper publishers and editors in South Dakota, and nationwide, agree.

For example, while Kranz’s long and friendly relationship with George McGovern is well known, reporters who work in one state for most of their careers are going to form relationships with some of the folks they cover. The requirement, though, is to keep them at arm’s length. Reporters need to build rapport and trust with those they write about; they must not become so close that they back away from reporting the warts, as well, when necessary.

I question whether Kranz's long and friendly relationship with George McGovern is "well known." It would become well known if David Kranz would write about it, and disclose the "friendly relationship" whenever he reports on George McGovern. I agree that reporters are required to keep the politicians they cover at arm's length. That is not what has been happening with David Kranz and Tom Daschle. As I stated in a similar fashion above, David Kranz almost always backs away from reporting the warts of Democratic politicians, Tom Daschle particularly, because Kranz knows that what is not reported is just as important as what is reported. Conversely, David Kranz consistently exposes the warts of conservative politicians. I have stated before that I want David Kranz to mercilessly investigate politicians on both sides of the aisle. But that's not what he has been doing.

The test for a newspaper isn’t a reporter’s political affiliation. The essential criteria for news coverage are fairness and balance. There is no such thing as “objectivity.” All of us are influenced by our upbringing and our environment. But professional reporters - the best ones - recognize the biases that they themselves possess and try to make sure that they are not reflected in their stories.

I agree that a reporter's political affiliation is not a sufficient standard for calculating bias. However, David Kranz has failed utterly to recognize the biases he possesses, as his bias is consistently reflected in his writing, and consistently exposed on this blog. When such blatant bias as it relates to Tom Daschle is exposed, David Kranz's past relationship with Tom Daschle instantly becomes relevant.

posted by Jason | 4:08 PM
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