After a summer’s worth of negotiations, legislative DFLers fared about as well with WCCO radio officials as they did during this spring’s budget standoff.
DFLers have complained they get no opportunity to respond to TPaw’s partisan shots during a program that ranks number two among listeners 18-plus in its 9-10 a.m. Friday time slot.
In the end, Democrats weren’t seeking equal time, given the substantial time the proto-presidential candidate has spent flaying the opposition in recent months. DFLers merely sought a guaranteed on-ramp in the show’s last five minutes.
In an Aug. 11 letter to Pogemiller, WCCO Senior Vice President/Market Manager Mick Anselmo told the Majority Leader “no,” and at one point, says DFLers should get in line with all the other callers:
…Gov. Pawlenty may from time to time express his own viewpoint on certain topical issues, and that viewpoint may not necessarily be one with which you or other members of the legislature always agree.
With that in mind, we take great care in making sure WCCO offers ample opportunity for listeners, elected officials, and community advocates, among others to take part in the discussion not only during Good Morning Minnesota, but through a variety of additional on-air forums. It is a model that has served us well for a number of years and a format we will continue to foster moving forward.
At this time we do not believe a regularly scheduled legislative response to the Governor’s program would be in keeping with the truly open environment the station has built its reputation on.
Pogey fired back on Sept. 4:
I’m disappointed that you did not come to see the problem the same as we and others have found it to be.
In my judgment, the Governor continues to use the program for his partisan political purposes. On Friday Aug. 14 he again ridiculed all the former governors and legislative leaders from both parties who have graciously agreed to give their time and expertise to helping solve the state’s persistent budget deficit. He and [communications director] Brian McClung gave inaccurate accounts of the legislative session.
The Governor also used the radio show to ridicule the mayor of Minneapolis and to say that teacher’s union (sic) controls the legislature. For the third week in a row he attacked the cash for clunkers program.
Even taking the show to the State Fair does not end the political distortions. On Friday August 28th the Governor claimed there was more investment in transportation during his time in office than any other time in history. This claim ignored three essential facts.
The increased funding early in his administration was accomplished through debt. Debt service went from under 1% of MnDOT spending to over 7%. The course the Governor set was unsustainable. The second infusion of news funds only because possible when the legislature overrode the Governor’s third veto of transportation funding. The current infusions of new funds are federal recovery funds made available by the Obama administration and Congress. The Governor has repeatedly used his radio show to attack the recovery funds.
Of course no one was able to set the record straight or even offer a different point of view during any of the Governor’s broadcasts over the last several years.
Now, I’m pretty sure listenership would go up in the last five minutes of Good Morning Minnesota if Pogey and the Governor had a date to verbally duel. Even if TPaw left the studio — likely given his resistance to direct legislative engagement — listeners would still get more of the story.
I agree with Dems that GMM would be fairer if they had a guaranteed five minutes on the show. (So did then-House Majority Leader Pawlenty during the Ventura administration.)
Anselmo is offering DFLers scattershot, unguaranteed response time. At the very least, that seems uncharitable for a station that says it aspires to be “the best news resource for Minnesotans.”
And let’s not kid ourselves that this show — contracted via the state of Minnesota — is only partisan “from time to time.” On three shows between July 24 and Aug. 7, TPaw blistered health care reform. On Aug. 14, as Pogey noted, it was Cash for Clunkers, big-city mayors and teacher’s unions. It’s almost like the guy is running for something.
Anselmo did not fall back on the station’s contract with the state, which makes the governor’s representative the show’s producer and makes no allowance for a legislative rebuttal.
As I’ve noted previously, McClung insists that calls are not screened for partisan viewpoint, and July-August transcripts show that critical callers do make onto the air. DFL legislators do not claim they’ve tried and failed to get through.
Given WCCO’s assurances that screening is fair, one recourse is to start calling in. Another might be to get another station to do the five-minute rebuttal. Given GMM’s ratings popularity, that might lift an also-ran station. It might also get political reporters who regularly file stories and blog posts off the guv’s show to give rivals a listen.
On some level, I’m thrilled that a relatively large audience for that time of day tunes in to hear the governor’s thoughts. That’s good for the civic sphere. WCCO could make things better, and it’s lame that they won’t.