Saturday, October 25, 2008

Star Trib Endorses Coleman for Senate - The Reason?

What happened at the old fountainhead of Yellow journalism, liberal bias - the old Red Star as conservatives liked to call the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Apparently it was his ability to stick his moistened finger in the air and check the direction of the wind that captured the Editorial Board’s collective heart:

Coleman didn’t begin his Senate service as an agent of bipartisanship. But that’s the note on which he wound up his six-year term and which he has sounded repeatedly in his reelection campaign. We like the trend we’ve seen and believe Coleman is capable of taking it further.

Aaron at MN Publius suggests a mildly conspiratorial, though certainly not implausible, reason for the endorsement:

The CEO of Avista Capital Partners, Thompson Dean, not only owns the Star Tribune, but is also on the board. His contributions indicate he only sends to Republicans, including to Rudy Giuliani’s PAC. Coleman is the only Senate candidate to receive money from Giuliani’s PAC this cycle.

Thompson Dean also fundraises for John McCain.

This, mixed with their right-wing editorial positions this cycle and knowing that their primary investments are in oil companies and health care firms, who could possibly be surprised by a Coleman endorsement?

Money - or the promise of making more of it - is certainly a reliable predictor of behavior. MN Publius has catalogued a significant number of out-of-character Editorial positions the Star Trib has taken in the past year, which, in addition to personnel changes on the Editorial board, provide several indicators that this may be a permanent shift to the center-right by the traditionally liberal newspaper.

I don’t disagree with MN Publius - newspapers are a dying medium, and the Star Trib’s continued existence depends on making a fundamental reorganization of its business model. Avista Capital Partners wouldn’t have come onto the scene in the past year if they didn’t have a plan to do so. The only question that remains is what the Star Tribune will look like, as a media outlet, when this transformation is complete. I think we can expect to see the Star Trib follow the PiPress’s lead in trimming the page size to Tabloid-size, more Katherine Kersten, AP wire news, an overall look akin to USA Today and less original reporting like what can be found at MinnPost.

- J. Oak

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