‘Rare’ KSTP editorial thanks police, but lacks disclosure

“It is rare when KSTP decides to take an editorial position …”

So begins an on-air editorial thanking police for being “calm and professional and measured when faced with protesters” during the Republican National Convention. The Sunday piece said Channel 5 reporters who “were in the middle of each disturbance” universally share that view.

The editorial concludes, “It is the opinion of the owners of KSTP that we owe a debt of gratitude to all police officers on duty during the Republican National Convention.”

It’s certainly not out-of-bounds to praise police; even some reporters and photographers who were arrested last week told me they basically agree. (Of course, other journalists cite incidents that raise questions about this evaluation.)

However, two things are worth noting — one of which KSTP had a duty to disclose, and the other a bit of valuable context.

First, the context: KSTP was the only major Twin Cities TV station that didn’t have a staff member arrested covering the demonstrations, according to an assignment desk staffer this afternoon. That might’ve altered the Channel 5 staff’s perspective.

Second, the must-do: KSTP’s owner, Hubbard Broadcasting Inc., was an RNC Host Committee sponsor and HBI patriarch Stanley Hubbard is on the Host Committee’s executive board.

According to a July 14 Pioneer Press story, Hubbard “has donated his fundraising talents, an undisclosed amount of money and convention-time use of his 125-foot yacht. ‘I hope they make good use of it,’ Hubbard said of the boat. His only rules: ‘No smoking and no unfriendly shoes.'”

KSTP’s failure to disclose its owners’ clear ties to convention promoters wouldn’t have undermined its unusual editorial, but did undermine journalistic principles that demand news organizations own up to ties that can affect what gets on the air.

[Addendum: Minnesota Independent’s Paul Schmelzer has his own objections, noting Hubbard’s pattern of campaign contributions to Republicans.]

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Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Justin Heideman on 09/08/2008 - 04:13 pm.

    I was not aware KSTP had any journalistic principles.

  2. Submitted by Mitch Larson on 09/08/2008 - 05:55 pm.

    Reports like these are why I plan to contribute to Minnpost. Minnpost goes beyond turning around issued press releases and actually does some independent investigations.

  3. Submitted by Annalise Cudahy on 09/08/2008 - 04:19 pm.

    I think this “rare” event sounds like a proactive strike. Hubbard is probably worried about what’s coming next for our men and women in blue once we start to review things.

    If even Hubbard knows how bad it’s going to be, we’re in for a bumpy ride. Fasten your seatbelts.

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/08/2008 - 06:01 pm.

    Does this mean the Dave Thune might be compelled to disclose what motivated him to re-inflict the urine throwing, glass smashing, fire starting “anarchists” upon we, the citizens of the West side after the Sheriff’s department had rid us of their noxious presence on Smith St.?


    This *after* their leadership had been arrested in possession of the raw materials for the offensive weapons that were, in fact, used in their violent activities a day later.

    Boat schmoat, I’d sure like an explaination from councilman Thune, and so would many of my neighbors.

  5. Submitted by Conklin Conklin on 09/09/2008 - 11:10 am.

    Also, KSTP-TV should have run a graphic of some kind identifying the segment as an editorial, not a news report.

  6. Submitted by Robert Albee on 09/09/2008 - 10:59 am.

    What did I read on another blog: To Thomas Swift – When the Republicans piss all over McCain, he think’s it’s rain.” Maybe those awful anarchists were simply Republicans in drag…!

  7. Submitted by David Cater on 09/08/2008 - 04:11 pm.

    It’s rare that I see evening news live and I caught this. It struck me as odd and the first thing I thought of was when you mentioned last week they were the only news team without journalists arrested.

    I didn’t make the Hubbard connection. Nice work.

  8. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/09/2008 - 12:18 pm.

    Thanks for that very helpful commentary Mr. Albee; we can always count on our friends from the local left to be ever so erudite in their opinions, can’t we?

    But somehow I highly doubt that Dave Thune would have jumped out of his bed to rush to the assistance of the alleged vandals, and domestic terrorists, known collectively as the “RNC Welcoming committee” if they had anything whatso ever to do with the Republican party….unless of course it included, perhaps, “pissing” on them.

    Oh, that’s right…that was in there too, wasn’t it?

    Well, all the more reason to have a thorough public airing, don’t you agree?

  9. Submitted by Tom Poe on 09/10/2008 - 04:12 am.

    Makes a nice piece to come back to in the wake of the upcoming onslaught of lawsuits. Every KTSP news report updating court activity can be followed by reference to this editorial. Helps keep their viewers from paying attention to truth.

  10. Submitted by Craig Wilson on 09/12/2008 - 03:40 pm.

    You might want check out the head of security for the RNC, Don Winger, was a long-time employee of KSTP security staff.

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