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Star Tribune's Whistleblower digs into muckraker's murder 65 years later

So this is cool; Star Tribune "Whistleblower" columnist James Shiffer and freelance multi-media producer McKenna Ewen have produced a new website that explores the unsolved 1945 police report of Minneapolis muckraker Arthur Kasherman.

Called "Rubbed Out," the project was a side job for the two men; the site includes the original police report; reproductions of Kasherman's scandal sheet, the "Public Press"; a video recapitulation; map of the dirty deed (which involved a stabbed tire and a gal with a shiner); a line-up of suspects; and Shiffer's narrative look-back.

Shiffer doesn't glorify Kasherman, who sounds more like a palooka than Pulitzer finalist; the scandal-monger sported an extortion conviction and other legal scrapes. Kasherman's prose is long on purple and short on specifics (Shiffer likens him to a blogger) but the site makes a pretty good case for the man's historical importance. Kasherman was the last of three muckrakers to be murdered in the city, and even if he was the least respected, his killing was adroitly leveraged by forces backing an insurgent candidate for mayor, Hubert Humphrey.

What's neat about this is that Shiffer, a relatively recent transplant, cares so passionately about his adopted city, and still bristles over the lazy police investigation of a shirt-tail professional relative almost seven decades later. He was smart to enlist Ewen, a "digital native" who's one of the best young journalists in town. (You can check out Ewen's appearance on last Friday's "Almanac" here.)

Leveraging the resources of the Strib, Minneapolis Police Department, Minnesota Historical Society and the Hennepin County Library, Shiffer and Ewen have made faded times come alive, an "L.A. Confidential" for the Mill City that takes us from the digital era to a time of dames and dime-drops.

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Comments (6)

I got wise to this Friday night with Ewen's appearance on "Almanac". It's a very-well put together piece of multimedia that any local history buff (myself included) will enjoy. I've been trying to put the word out on this...it deserves a large audience.

I loved that piece. But i wanted to know more about the corruption he was battling, who in particular might have had him killed and the cultural backdrop. He was Jewish, and I wondered if any bigotry or ethnic strife of the era played a role.

What a great article. As someone who struggles to find outlets for local history research and writing, it would be great to see more of this.

Palooka! a great, noirish word from the '30s and '40s. Best uttered with a cigar stub clenched in the teeth. Like to see it brought back into general usage. Don't be a palooka!

Bring back Speed Graflex cameras, trenchcoats and fedoras, too. and outdoor baseball.

"Better to trust the man who is frequently in error than one who is never in doubt." Eric Sevareid

The late great Eric Sevareid would never be called a muckraker in the same breath with bad-boy-blogger type Kasherman...but 'muckraker' has it's upside too...as when Eric was young and still went by his first name of 'Arnie'and writing for the Minneapolis Journal, he exposed the "Silver Shirts clan", 1936; page one, five-part series by young Arnold (Eric) Sevareid. Silver Shirts was an anti-semitic, fascist group. www.mnc.net/norway/sevareid.html

Don't forget the Osanna streetcar scandal in middle of the fifties and the burning of the street cars...Mpls. had its mega mafia merchants indeed.Try Wikipedia under 'Fred Osanna', for a simple summary.

And there was "The Minnesota Commission of Public Safety WWI" documented in "Watchdog of
Loyalty" by the late Dr. Chrislock.

...and a trivia/ footnote: I did notice in that fascinating video documentary, that typing of the keys shown, on a later model typewriter...shouldn't it have been a little black job like a Woodstock or Underwood or
portable Olivette of the 40's? Either way great story of the underbelly history of the twin cities, wow!