KSTP-TV News Director Lindsay Radford isn’t mincing any words: her newsroom “should have disclosed” owner Hubbard Broadcasting Inc.’s ties in stories about MnForward’s pro-Tom Emmer ads.
HBI has contributed $100,000 to MnForward, a business group that released a TV ads supporting Emmer, out of the $450,000 the group has raised so far. Initially, a KSTP web story did not include the link; now it does.
Radford notes the TV side did a roughly 15-second story on the campaign’s debut that also didn’t mention the connection. That, too, was a mistake, she says, and all future stories involving MnForward will include the HBI-donation disclaimer.
While HBI patriarch Stanley Hubbard is a longtime GOP donor, the Supreme Court’s recent Citizens United decision gave corporations the right to directly advocate for a candidate’s election. Radford says HBI officials did not tell her they’d made the donation. Asked if corporate will tell the newsroom the next time they pony up, Radford says, “Yes.”
Because of the Hubbard family’s frequent donations, she says KSTP “gets painted with a broad brush” as being a GOP station; however, if the station wants to be perceived as presenting “unbiased news, we have to set the bar higher. We have to disclose [donor ties].”
Radford says the MnForward ad will undergo a “Truth Test,” a regular fact-checking segment by political reporter Tom Hauser, and the HBI-MnForward link will definitely be included.