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Why did the Star Tribune let Matt Birk talk while ignoring Chris Kluwe?

Matt Birk
Matt Birk

Given that half the state’s population – and almost all the major media outlets – obsess about the Vikings, is it that surprising that football players have emerged as spokesfolk for the state Constitutional amendment campaigns?

It’s not just pro-gay marriage punter Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who bludgeoned his way into the local debate with a foul-mouthed rant against a censorious Maryland legislator. Sunday, former teammate and local guy Matt Birk responded in the Strib opinion section, arguing that married gay parents endangered society. Even Benchwarmer Bob Lurtsema has cut a video touting Photo I.D.!

(As it turns out, Birk also supports Photo I.D. Your move, Kluwe.)

Several people in my social networks fume that the Strib displayed bad news judgment on the Kluwe story, which started in Deadspin Sept. 7 and quickly advanced to the punter’s Pioneer Press blog. (By the way, kudos to whoever had the foresight to arrange that deal.)

Though Strib sports blogger Michael Rand – who hoovers up pop culture — flicked at the comments right away, the paper all but ignored the ensuing firestorm for nearly a week, until Vikings beat writer Dan Wiederer gingerly mentioned it on his blog.

It took until Sept. 17 – long after the controversy had made it through the wash cycle – for the political reporter Baird Helgeson to mention it in print; a forced-seeming, glancing reference in a story about gay marriage voting’s generational split.

The Associated Press’s Pat Condon showed what a professional reporter could do with the topic Sept. 15; like most AP stories, the Strib put it on its website (comments turned off!) but I don’t think it appeared in print. (Update: Former AP editor Dave Pyle says it appeared on page B2.)

At this point, gay marriage fans might want to be careful what they wish for. I’ve given money to the Vote No campaign, think Kluwe’s a quality writer, and lapped up the ensuing discussion. But (nothing personal, Chris), there’s a celebrity aspect here, and do we really want to stamp our feet and demand Pavlovian coverage?

Chris Kluwe
Chris Kluwe

Then again, if you look at the Strib’s obsessive coverage of the stadium issue, it’s odd that it wouldn’t at least glom on to the page view hook to funnel people’s attention to the deeper issues, instead waiting eight days for Condon and AP.

For the record, I queried Strib managing editor Rene Sanchez Sept. 11 about the Strib’s muted response and got silence in return. Editors probably had Helgeson’s story in the works, and the Strib – much more transparent in recent years – is most opaque on its political-coverage decisions.

Although most Strib readers are likely well-versed on Kluwe’s feelings, editors’ decision to downplay his story may have some scratching their heads about what Birk was responding to over in the opinion section. (The two sections are managed separately.)

Since I’m left to speculate here, I believe Strib let competitive juices get the better of their news judgment. Kluwe is still campaigning in the Pioneer Press’ pages, and that’s not a plus at the downtown Minneapolis paper that prides itself – often justifiably – on enterprise stories.

I simply don’t think this is a case of the Strib opposing gay marriage. The paper has repeatedly opined against the amendment, and board chair Mike Sweeney has personally donated $10,000 to Vote No.

[Hat tip: Michael Fleming, Mike McIntee]

Comments (28)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/01/2012 - 10:49 am.


    the fact that Kluwe is evidently incapable of making his inchoate argument without the use of scatological references, name calling and gutter level language in general has something to do with it.

    • Submitted by Sean Huntley on 10/01/2012 - 11:38 am.

      Read his Pioneer Press blog. It proves your statement 100% wrong.

      • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 10/01/2012 - 06:15 pm.

        I’ve finally gotten around to looking

        at Mr. Kluwe’s piece written in response to Mr. Birk on his Pioneer Press blog:

        Out Of Bounds Blog No. 14 – Problems

        This is an incredibly good article, well written, logical, and well worth reading. Please have a look at the numerous enthusiastic comments. MinnPost should give serious consideration to re-posting this post in the section where they reprint outstanding local blog pieces.

        We’ve had some pretty smart pro football players in Minnesota. Justice Alan Page immediately comes to mind.

        I hope that Mr. Kluwe, like Justice Page, when he retires from football decides to stay in Minnesota. He, too, would be a great permanent asset to our state.

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/02/2012 - 07:38 am.

          No surprise here

          Kluwe falls back on the same tired, logical fallicies and inchoate reasoning I’ve soundly debunked here any number of times. Just goes to prove that even when presented with respectable verbage, a flawed conclusion is incapable of withstanding a reasoned vetting.

          • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 10/02/2012 - 08:15 am.

            “soundly debunked here any number of times”

            Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, Mr. Swift.

            But my opinion, based on other comments here, is that you are, as another commenter put it, in the superminority in your opinion on this one.

            As to proving anything you have yet to provide your cite for the (false) claim that living in a single sex household is harmful to children.

            “same tired logical fallicies [sic]”

            Look to the north, look to the south, you will see a state and a country where gay marriage is legal. Nothing terrible has happened in either place.

            That is fact and not a fallacy.

            • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/02/2012 - 12:02 pm.

              Reverberating a myopic worldview in a vacuum…

              “…based on other comments here…you are… in the superminority in your opinion on this one.”

              That is the problem with living in an echo chamber.

              Come November, I am 100% confident that the voting results will put me squarely in the mainstream majority of Minnesotans, and they with the mainstream majority of Americans.

              BTW, I’ve posted links to the peer-reviewed research that warrants my argument more than once; as you know. In order to keep this thread from devolving into a re-hash of a debate I’ve already won, I invite you to review the archives.

          • Submitted by Christa Moseng on 10/02/2012 - 11:45 am.

            debunking debunking debunked

            Your purported debunking of Kluwe’s debunking of Birk’s piece, by asserting that Kluwe’s systematic identification of the fallacies in Birk’s op-ed relies on tired logical fallacies (though not itself reproduced above, but apparently published elsewhere on this site in diaspora and incorporated by reference) is itself dependent on logical fallacies too numerous to reproduce in this text box.

            Your turn.

            • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 10/02/2012 - 03:18 pm.


              I just wanted to see whether Mr. Swift had anything new past the discredited Regnerus study which has been discussed on MinnPost previously.

              See for example:
              Critics challenge findings, funding and methodology of controversial gay-parents study

              Apparently not.

              This work is scheduled to be withdrawn in November by the Journal where it was originally published. As an auditor responsible for the withdrawal decision put it:

              “It’s bullshit.”


              One of the general strategies of the right is to declare victory and move on, even when no real evidence has ever been presented in support of one of their opinions.

            • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/03/2012 - 09:53 am.

              Oddly enough…

              The same conclusion has been reached vis-a-vis the “research” touted by homosexualists…without the scatological vitriol, which IMO reveals a politically motivated bias in itself.

              “The report, by sociology professors at the University of Southern California, says that that, contrary to earlier assertions, children of same-sex parents exhibit significant differences when compared to children raised by heterosexual couples.

              The study’s authors conclude that earlier researchers downplayed those differences when they found them — and this has stunted research that might further highlight and explain these differences.

              “The pervasiveness of social prejudice and institutionalized discrimination against lesbians and gay men… exerts a powerful policing affect on the basic terms of psychological research and public discourse on the significance of parental sexual orientation,” Judith Stacey and Timothy Biblarz write in a report in the American Sociological Review.”

              Read more:,2933,29901,00.html#ixzz28FQQ2is4

              Your turn.

              • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 10/03/2012 - 01:19 pm.

                Please see response below

                Mr. Swift’s 2001 cite to Fox News in support of his contention that gay parents are harmful to children.


                (I’ve done this so response is not an inch wide column.)

    • Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 10/01/2012 - 12:18 pm.

      That’s exactly right

      as Mr. Swift well knows. The mainstream media never once referenced his blog or mine for those very same reasons: “scatological references, name calling and gutter level language in general.” When you speak in the common tongue and not the High English of mainstream media, the mainstream media will ignore you.

      But I think the reason the Strib refused to acknowledge Kluwe is more easily summed up by asking, “When’s the last time the Strib referenced ANYTHING from the Pioneer Press?”

      • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 10/01/2012 - 01:10 pm.

        Thank you Mr. Gisleson

        I’ve tried to point out that Mr. Swift is knowingly inconsistent in his criticism of Mr. Kluwe as anyone who has seen his tweet streams or smutty cartoons knows.

  2. Submitted by Charlie Quimby on 10/01/2012 - 11:08 am.

    Probably right…

    since Birk’s piece indicates otherwise inchoate arguments made by football players are welcome at the Strib.

  3. Submitted by David Koski on 10/01/2012 - 11:35 am.


    It very well could be that being for Photo ID and Yes on the Marriage Amendment is by default, being opposed to unions. I do not think the Strib scores highly in the area of pro labor. This should raise a few eyebrows of my fellow union brothers who rallied to have the new stadium built.

  4. Submitted by John Edwards on 10/01/2012 - 12:03 pm.

    Help for a baffled David

    Here is an insight for David who inexplicably seems uncertain of the Star-Tribune’s stance on gay marriage: The news department, the editorial page and the publisher are for it. Just read what they print. My guess is the only reason the newspaper did not promote Kluwe’s crude, x-rated and hate-filled rant was that they realize it would do more harm than good to the cause. A shrewd move for the Yes people would be to do an ad showing unedited the words Kluwe used.

  5. Submitted by Rich Crose on 10/01/2012 - 12:07 pm.

    You’re right

    That kind of language should be limited to private campaign fundraisers only where no press or cameras are allowed.

  6. Submitted by Steve Rose on 10/01/2012 - 12:07 pm.

    Indeed, Perhaps it was the Raging Delivery

    Thomas succinctly answered the question.

    I think that the Strib would have covered the Kluwe rant if they thought it would support the position that the Strib clearly supports. However, the opposition (Vote NO) approach is to cover their rage with a slap-dash coat of oops-paint from the local home store. Kluwe either didn’t get the memo or decided to leave the rez. The Strib is clearly downplaying it. It is like the Obama campaign not playing up the Hugo Chavez endorsement the President received yesterday.

  7. Submitted by Doug Duwenhoegger on 10/01/2012 - 12:34 pm.

    Collusion in timing?

    Does it seem odd that the timing of the Strib Op-Ed coincided perfectly with the airing of the first TV ads starring Matt Birk, by the vote Yes supporters?

    As much as I would like to believe that Minnesotans are in whole educated, compassionate, progressive group of folks I think this will pass. Sadly we are no better than any other state and much worse than some.

  8. Submitted by Tim Milner on 10/01/2012 - 02:05 pm.

    I have never been one for conspriacy theories

    so, could it possible be as simply as the Star Tribune choosing not to report on an article found in another news entity (Deapspin) written by someone who blogs for another news entity the Star Tribune competes with (Pioneer Press) verse publishing a letter that was specifically written to the Star Tribune as an opinion / op-ed piece?

    I don’t make a habit of publicizing my competition’s efforts – I can see why the Star Tribune might feel the same. After all, this is opinion – not news. I think that gives the Star Tribune more latitude in choosing not to cover the Kluwe article. (If it was news, it would be a whole different issue if the Star Tribune chose not to cover it)

    I read the Star Tribunes letters to the editor frequently. I think they publish a reasonable amount of opinions on both sides of controversial issues.

    So, I don’t see any conspiracy here.

  9. Submitted by Dean Gray on 10/01/2012 - 04:16 pm.

    Football Players and Elections?

    Why should we care about what two football players have to say about an election. If they were talking about football I might listen

  10. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 10/01/2012 - 08:51 pm.

    Mr Birk

    Is entitled to his opinion, but I am not Catholic and do not care for him imposing his views on my family. As to his tax comments, funny how they like playing in taxpayer subsidized stadiums and seem to not let that bother them. Papers should let the paid seals bark in their own pools, about something they have expertise in.

  11. Submitted by Jim Greg on 10/02/2012 - 09:23 am.

    Amazing grasp and unlike that Swift guy or Birk…verifiable, authentic facts lead the way….

  12. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 10/03/2012 - 12:28 pm.

    Mr. Swift’s 2001 cite to Fox News in support of his contention

    that gay parents are harmful to children.

    Above you gave a link to a Fox News interpretation of a scientific paper. It is highly misleading. I note that this discussion was initiated by your claim that recent research had indicated that gay couples were unfit parents. I note that your Fox News interpretation of this research is from 2001.

    Interested readers may wish to consult the original paper which is unfortunately not cited fully in your reference.

    It is:

    Stacey, J. & Biblarz, T.J. (2001). (How) Does sexual orientation of parents matter? American Sociological Review, 65, 159-183.

    The American Psychological Association published a research summary that I commend to your attention. You will note that the Stacey and Biblarz paper is specifically mentioned multiple times in this document.

    Sexual Orientation, Parents & Children
    Adopted by the APA Council of Representatives 2004 (note date)

    From that document:

    As the social visibility and legal status of lesbian and gay parents has increased, three major concerns about the influence of lesbian and gay parents on children have been often voiced (Falk, 1994; Patterson, Fulcher & Wainright, 2002). One is that the children of lesbian and gay parents will experience more difficulties in the area of sexual identity than children of heterosexual parents. A second category of concerns involves aspects of children’s personal development other than sexual identity. A third category of concerns is that children of lesbian and gay parents will experience difficulty in social relationships.

    Results of social science research have failed to confirm any of these concerns about children of lesbian and gay parents (Patterson, 2000, 2004a; Perrin, 2002; Tasker, 1999). Research suggests that sexual identities (including gender identity, gender-role behavior, and sexual orientation) develop in much the same ways among children of lesbian mothers as they do among children of heterosexual parents (Patterson, 2004a). Studies of other aspects of personal development (including personality, self-concept, and conduct) similarly reveal few differences between children of lesbian mothers and children of heterosexual parents (Perrin, 2002; Stacey & Biblarz, 2001; Tasker, 1999).

    Evidence also suggests that children of lesbian and gay parents have normal social relationships with peers and adults (Patterson, 2000, 2004a; Perrin, 2002; Stacey & Biblarz, 2001; Tasker, 1999; Tasker & Golombok, 1997). The picture that emerges from research is one of general engagement in social life with peers, parents, family members, and friends. Fears about children of lesbian or gay parents being sexually abused by adults, ostracized by peers, or isolated in single-sex lesbian or gay communities have received no scientific support. Overall, results of research suggest that the development, adjustment, and well-being of children with lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents.

    Interestingly, one of the whereas clauses in support of policy statements specifically mentions the Stacey and Biblartz paper.

    To wit:

    “Whereas research has shown that the adjustment, development, and psychological well-being of children is unrelated to parental sexual orientation and that the children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish (Patterson, 2004; Perrin, 2002; Stacey & Biblarz, 2001)”

    I think the relevant expression in this matter is “Game, set, match,” Mr. Swift.

    I don’t intend to engage you further on this matter, since you seem to be either unqualified or unable to conduct a fair evaluation of the scientific literature.

    Fox News cites are simply unacceptable in a serious discussion about the interpretation of serious research. This is a simple matter of intellectual honesty.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/04/2012 - 02:08 pm.

      Fox news included a link to the actual study, from which I cited.

      You, on the other hand, in lieu of confronting the actual text of the study I cited, have posted a link to a *policy statement* that merely mentions the study. Unless you care to do so belatedly, I think it’s fair to conclude you found yourself incapable of obfuscating the actual facts to your satisfaction.

      I think it’s also fair to conclude that is why you’re backing down from further discussion.

  13. Submitted by Joe Musich on 10/05/2012 - 07:42 pm.

    swift engages in opinion making not discussion

    Your ongoing efforts to form opinion are disturbing. The fact that you deny this is laughable. The Constitution that value is not the one that exits.
    What exactly does this mean and how is this productive ? I think it’s also fair to conclude that is why you’re backing down from further discussion. Unless your intention is not to be productive but destructive.

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