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Republicans, Politico stub toe on Franken-Ritchie link

Minnesota Republicans were all a-Twitter Thursday at news that Sen. Al Franken had invited Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to be his guest at Wednesday’s State of the Union address — an evil quid-pro-quo for Franken winning the recount Ritchie oversaw. As GOP Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb tweeted:

Unbelievably bad judgment: hyper-partisan @mritche attends SOTU as @alfranken‘s guest: http://bit.ly/aGFall

As it turns out, the source — D.C.-based POLITICO — had the story wrong. Its original report stated:

Franni Franken, wife of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), confirms to POLITICO that Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is her husband’s guest tonight.

Later, this was changed to:

Franni Franken, wife of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), confirms to POLITICO that she was her husband’s guest tonight.

No mention that the original item was wrong, and a graphic at the bottom of the story still made the Ritchie-Franken connection. However, after I contacted POLITICO to ask what was up, it changed to this:

Franni Franken, wife of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), confirms to POLITICO that she was her husband’s guest tonight. Update: It appears that Franni Franken gave her up highly-coveted aisle seat to a very grateful wounded veteran.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported that Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie was the senator’s SOTU guest.

A small victory in the war for accountability.

Ritchie, by the way, confirms he was not at the State of the Union speech. So how did POLITICO get it so wrong? Here’s staffer Katherine Lehr’s explanation:

We received an anonymous tip re: Ritchie and due to a communication breakdown, this was incorrectly reported. I thought the error had been removed from all story references on the site. We are issuing a correction in the story the item appears. Apologies for the confusion. Please let me know if you have any other questions/concerns.

Yikes — from an anonymous tip right to the page, mis-sourced, with a stealth correction on top of it. Not cool POLITICO.

As of 2 p.m., three hours after his initial tweet, Brodkorb had not issued his own correction, though his former website, Minnesota Democrats Exposed, did augment the record.

[Update: Here’s Brodkorb’s blame-the-messenger response, noting “sadly it wouldn’t have surprised me” if the completely fictional story had been true. Sadly, it doesn’t surprise me Michael refuses to accept his share of responsibility and fall on his attack sword.]

By the way, even if the story had been true, the “controversy” would still qualify has horse manure. Nonpartisan observers have widely praised the recount, and Ritchie’s conduct of it, as fair, so there was nothing to “pay back.” One DFLer entertaining another DFLer is not a scandal, except among hyperpartisans looking for any bright, shiny object to distract.

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 01/28/2010 - 02:35 pm.

    Franken had a pretty good seat, too, for Senator 100 (soon to be 99). He was right behind the Joint Chiefs. No word if the former comedian asked the chiefs for a joint….

    Good Lord, I’ll bet POLITICO will run with that, too!

  2. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 01/28/2010 - 05:23 pm.

    Politico ran without sources? I’m shocked, shocked. And wingnuts put on the conspiracy hats? Gee, don’t know if I have any shock left.

  3. Submitted by Paul Gustafson on 01/29/2010 - 08:57 am.

    A very disturbing post, David. Especially since POLITICO gets used and cited by mainstream media more frequently as a trusted source of information and comment.

    Goes to show how fragile credibility has become in all media – old and new – as traditional quality standards erode with newsroom layoffs in Old Media and New Media tries to make it with spartan staffing.

    Politicians and The Media are the same, I think, in their credibility with the public: Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us repeatedly, and we just don’t believe you anymore.

  4. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 01/29/2010 - 01:32 pm.

    Paul, I wish I could agree with the “Fool us repeatedly, and we just don’t believe you anymore.” If that were true, Fox News would be out of business.

  5. Submitted by Paul Gustafson on 01/29/2010 - 05:48 pm.

    You got me there, Marcia.

    The only thing I can says is that Fox News is misnamed. It should be Fox Commentary…..

  6. Submitted by donald maxwell on 01/31/2010 - 07:00 am.

    Or Fox Prop.

    Fox News lies every time it comes on, inherently, by pretending to be a news function.

  7. Submitted by William Wicker on 02/02/2010 - 05:00 pm.

    With all due respect Mr. Brauer doesn’t fact check either. This is from a the Bemidji Pioneer. It contradicts other things blogs Mr. Brauer has written:

    Minnesota’s Franken has non-Minnesotans on staff

    Last week, my wife and I took our two boys to Washington, D,C. We signed up for a “staff-led tour” of the U.S. Senate with Sen. Franken’s office. When we walked into the senator’s office, we were greeted by a young man from Texas. Our “staff-led tour” was given by a young man from New York. During the tour, we learned that only a tiny fraction of Sen. Franken’s staff are Minnesotans. In these troubling economic times, I would have hoped that Sen. Franken could have hired a few Minnesotans. I think we all know a few good Minnesotans looking for work!

    Jack Hamilton
    Bemidji

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