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 21, 2003  

John Hinderaker, a Minnesota blogger and Watertown, SD native, piles on with further scrutiny of Argus Leader bias. Oh, by the way, dear readers, just in case you missed it, did you see that Instapundit and Hobbs Online have taken notice of bias at the Argus Leader? For readers who have arrived at SDP via these righteous bloggers, further scrutiny of Argus Leader bias can be found at Sibby Online and Inside South Dakota.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds' analysis is spot-on:


"I think we'll see a lot more local-blogging. In part that's because local newspapers, almost always monopolists and often with too-comfortable relations with local politicos, are ripe targets."

posted by Jason | 1:21 PM
 

Jeff Gannon of Talon News delivers another stellar report on bias at the Argus Leader. Gannon's report is on a recent talk radio interview of Argus Leader executive editor Randell Beck. Excerpt:


Beck reserved his most strident criticism for Talon News. He likened Talon News's ethics investigation of the Argus Leader to President Lyndon Johnson's attacks on newspapers "when the Vietnam War began to go badly" and Richard Nixon's similar conduct during Watergate.

"It is a well known political ploy, when you have nothing important to say, attack the media," Beck said.

Beck suggested the illegitimacy of the Talon News reports saying, "There is no credibility there, there is no commitment to the facts, there is no sense of fair play."

Ironically, that same day, [Argus Leader political reporter] David Kranz used a quote in a story about judicial nominees from White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. The quote was a response to a question asked by Talon News's Washington Bureau Chief at Tuesday's White House press briefing.

posted by Jason | 1:02 PM
 

It's amazing what happens when you're unable to access the internet for a few days. I just found out now, almost 24 hours after the fact, that Bill Hobbs of Hobbs Online has taken note of my scrutiny of the Argus Leader. And it gets better. The blogfather, Professor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, has picked up the story. I'm still reeling from these developments. More later as I examine the ramifications of this great development.

posted by Jason | 12:31 PM


Thursday, June 19, 2003  

In an uninterrupted half-hour screed on Greg Belfrage's radio show yesterday, Argus Leader executive editor Randell Beck often mischaracterized the arguments of those scrutinizing the bias of political reporter David Kranz. I don't want to see articles in the Argus Leader everyday about Linda Daschle's lobbying, which Beck claims is what we want. I just want it reported on when it becomes relevant, something we have rarely seen through the years. I don't think it's a bad thing that David Kranz and Tom Daschle worked together on a mock Democratic convention while at South Dakota State University, which is also a claim Beck makes. I just think that it's interesting background information in light of David Kranz's blatant Democratic bias.

Beck also made statements that were not factually true, which is priceless, considering the preaching we hear from Beck about those bad people who don't let the facts get in the way of a good story. For instance, the story about Senator Larry Pressler walking into a closet off of a Senate hearing room and staying there is false. Additionally, Beck personally attacked those critical of David Kranz's journalism, for instance calling possible U.S. Senate candidate Neal Tapio a "right-wing nut." This too is priceless, in light of Beck saying that those scrutinizing the Argus Leader are personally attacking Beck and Kranz. Another priceless tidbit is Beck trying to explain why the Argus Leader and its staff should not be held to the same scrutiny as governmental institutions and officials, because the Argus Leader "is a private enterprise." Andrew Sullivan, the man who scrutinized the New York Times and Howell Raines until they couldn't stand the heat, would love that one. In sum, Randell Beck went a long way in making my argument about institutional arrogance and bias at the Argus Leader.

In my mind, the most egregious statement Beck made was the castigation of those "digging into the personal life of David Kranz." This is not the case. I, as well as others, have only scrutinized David Kranz's journalism, and have dug through the Argus Leader archives for the pieces Kranz has written. That is a legitimate, aboveboard activity. The reason we know that Tom Daschle and David Kranz worked together on the mock Democratic convention at SDSU in the late 1960's is because David Kranz wrote about it in a column for the Mitchell Daily Republic in 1976.

I respect Randell Beck for coming on the Greg Belfrage show and taking the tough questions from callers. But Beck should know that people are reading and listening, and that whatever he says will be fact-checked on this blog and others. Hopefully, the next time Beck comes on, he'll get his facts straight and not mischaracterize people's arguments and intentions so egregiously.

posted by Jason | 2:31 PM


Tuesday, June 17, 2003  

Randell Beck, executive editor of the Argus Leader, says that the following sentence, printed in an AP report (seen in a post below), was "inappropriate to to print in the Argus Leader."


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.

Ostensibly, this was inappropriate to print in light of the fact that Linda Daschle does not work on military issues for Boeing, a client of her lobbying firm. Since this was inappropriate to print, the following paragraph, written by David Kranz on February 9, 2003, was also inappropriate to print:

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.

This paragraph was inappropriate to print because John Thune does not lobby for PhRMA, a client of Thune's lobbying firm, although it is implied in the paragraph. Clearly, a double-standard is at play here. Intellectual honesty requires a correction from the Argus Leader.

posted by Jason | 8:56 PM
 

Jeff Gannon of Talon News discovers further evidence of the intimate relationship through the years between the Argus Leader and the South Dakota Democratic Party, particularly in regard to political reporter David Kranz. Excerpt:


Steve Erpenbach, currently State Director for [Senate Minority Leader Tom] Daschle, was Assistant City Editor for the Argus Leader from 1986 until 1989. David Kranz, the reporter at the center of the controversy, was City Editor at the time. Erpenbach became Press Secretary for Ted Muenster in his 1990 bid to unseat Sen. Larry Pressler (R-SD). It was during this campaign that the New York Times and Roll Call criticized the Argus Leader for its biased coverage.


posted by Jason | 8:29 PM


Monday, June 16, 2003  

KRANZ WATCH: On February 9, 2003, David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters, wrote the following sentences (I've talked about this before, but stay with me, it gets good at the end):


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.

John Thune does not lobby for PhRMA, the "pharmaceutical trade group" Kranz mentions. But clearly, it didn't matter to David Kranz that John Thune has nothing to do with lobbying for the "pharmaceutical industry trade group." It was enough to merely say that the firm Thune works for has a client that fought against adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, and to cite an AP story that said so (there is some question whether the AP story Kranz cites actually says this, as I related in my post on February 9, 2003). Consequently, people are free to make the inference that Thune actively lobbies against a prescription drug benefit, and we see letters to the editor in the Argus Leader which make that claim almost daily. And of course the Democratic Party will run ads critical of Thune, should he decide to run against Daschle, citing the above paragraphs written by David Kranz for the Argus Leader.

Now I invite you to read through an AP story on Linda Daschle that appeared for a few hours and then vanished, to be replaced by a story about the correction to a story in the New York Times regarding Linda Daschle and Boeing, one of her lobbying firm's clients. The entire vanished story, as well as the correction in the New York Times, can be seen if you scroll down several posts, and I will excerpt a key portion here:

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.

The above sentence is entirely true, but is subject to the clarification that Linda Daschle does not work on military issues when she lobbies for Boeing. Similarly, David Kranz's assertion above, while entirely true, is subject to the clarification that John Thune does not work on pharmaceutical industry issues. However, no such clarification was made, and it has yet to be made. Since Argus Leader executive editor Randell Beck is concerned about "fanatics" with a "slavish devotion a political ideology" not letting the facts get in the way of a good story, perhaps he should look to David Kranz's contribution cited above. I'm waiting for a correction to Kranz's February 9, 2003 story, similar to the correction by the New York Times, to appear in a coming edition of the Argus Leader.

posted by Jason | 7:21 PM
 

Christine Iverson, John Thune's spokeswoman during last year's Senate campaign, has been hired as the RNC's new press secretary.

posted by Jason | 6:05 PM
 

From yesterday's NY Times, discussing the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial: 2 Centuries Later, a Moment for Indians to Retell the Past. Excerpt:


The reservations are breathtaking, the prairie grass high and green, the towns bursting with one quirky story after another. They are the biggest population centers for hundreds of miles, with 12,000 Indians living on the Cheyenne River Reservation, 11,000 on the Standing Rock, and 4,300 total on the smaller Crow Creek and Lower Brule reservations. One out of every 12 people in South Dakota, population 756,600, is Indian.

posted by Jason | 5:34 PM


Sunday, June 15, 2003  

Argus Leader executive editor Randell Beck responds to Talon News reporter Jeff Gannon, and also to the South Dakota blogosphere in general. Beck's piece is unserious about a serious topic, namely the issue of bias in the press. It is not happy news to learn that Beck does not handle identified shortcomings in the Argus Leader particularly well.

posted by Jason | 4:51 PM
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