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Tim Pawlenty’s 5-minute rule

In 2000, Rep. Tim Pawlenty had a very different view of unfiltered gubernatorial radio shows than he does today.
By David Brauer

Keeping in mind State Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller’s beef over Gov. Pawlenty’s WCCO show is with the station, not the politician, radio officials may want to consider the solution suggested by then-Rep. Pawlenty in February 2000 (emphasis mine):

Senator wants rebuttal time for Legislature on WCCO radio
By Rochelle Olson
Associated Press Writer

ST. PAUL (AP) Some lawmakers say they should have time every Friday to rebut Gov. Jesse Ventura’s hourlong weekly show, “Lunch with the Governor.”

“The one hour of unedited air time, without reporters screening or challenging inaccuracies, can leave erroneous statements uncorrected,” Sen. Ember Reichgott Junge said of Ventura’s hour. “That concerns me as we enter into the critical stages of this legislative session.”

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The governor generally conducts the show with staff member David Ruth and spokesman John Wodele. Ventura picks the topic for the show and occasionally has guests, but he never invites adversaries to debate issues.

Junge, DFL-New Hope and an assistant Senate majority leader, sent a letter Monday to WCCO Radio asking for an hour of bipartisan rebuttal every week, perhaps called “Facts and Snacks with Legislators.”

“I see some possibilities with that,” said general manager Brian Whittemore. “I think Sen. Junge’s letter was honorable and respectable. She took the issue seriously and I will take it seriously, too.”

House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty, R-Eagan, called rebuttal time a point of “basic fairness.” He suggested giving lawmakers as little as 5 minutes to substantively rebut what Ventura said.

Pawlenty questioned why a commercial radio station would give an hour of open microphone time to the governor. “What if the Star Tribune gave him two full pages every day just to spout off what he wanted?” Pawlenty asked.

Pawlenty’s solution seems fine, though I might make it 10 minutes.

I’m a little surprised at the gubernatorial press office’s maladroit response, noted in my previous piece. They could’ve avoided hypocrisy charges simply by encouraging WCCO to give the DFL a little time elsewhere.

As former Ventura press aide David Ruth notes, the governor shouldn’t really care what time other politicians get, as long as he gets his one-hour platform. Pawlenty missed an opportunity to enhance that “reasonable” aspect he cultivates so assiduously.