Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


RNC Glean: McCain’s change, and journalists detained

In Friday’s final locally oriented convention roundup, McCain talks change, 14 journalists are detained, and there’s no small amount of relief that it’s over.

The Strib’s front-page headline on the McCain speech (“‘Change is Coming'”) seems credulous since that’s the main point Obama disputes. The PiPress’ hed is similarly friendly: “The Maverick’s turn.” A Strib editorial calls McCain’s speech “rousing,” while the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger and Bill Salisbury pick a softer adjective, describing the crowd as “animated.” (Our own Doug Grows calls the cheers “robust.”)

So what exactly was the change? Parsing the dailies’ stories, the Strib notes McCain’s promises to fight corruption, reform government and reduce foreign oil dependence. If your paper is going to banner “Change,” shouldn’t you vet it a bit? There are no real fact-checks accompanying the speech reportage, a weakness this week. MinnPost’s fact-check is here.

Attempting even-handedness, the Strib editorial says Obama hasn’t countered jabs at “job-killling tax increases on businesses and affluent Americans” but dings McCain for deficit-ballooning tax cuts and ignoring health care and infrastructure. McCain is also too willing to use force, they say, though the edit couches it as “worries many Americans.” Hey, you’re an edit page: just say what you think. A PiPress editorial calls McCain’s speech “powerful” and says “two fine men are running for the presidency.”

Did anyone get more details on those Code Pink protesters who interrupted McCain’s speech? Not really, but WCCO’s Don Shelby talked to a couple of group members about how they got in the night before. My take: Anytime the protesters got McCain ad-libbing, thereby breaking his hypnotism-by-teleprompter, they were doing him a favor.

Article continues after advertisement

A police phalanx blocked Capitol protesters from downtown. The Strib says 200 people were arrested; the PiPress puts the number at 300. MPR’s Bob Collins has an awesome liveblog, as does the City Pages staff and Minnesota Independent’s Jeff Guntzel. A marching permit expired at 5 p.m., but some wanted to keep going to the X to catch arriving delegates. Demonstrators say cops changed their minds about letting them march past permit time.

The Strib says 14 journalists were also arrested or detained. The City Pages crew was maced. Minnesota Indepedent’s Paul Demko — who was just trying to get a beer — details his flexicuff experience here. A KARE cameraman was pinched; over the arrestee’s narration, correspondent Boyd Huppert intones, “Tonight, police set the limits for freedom of press, speech and assembly, leaving the courts to take it from here.” An Uptake videographer was also arrested. Fox9’s Tom Lyden calls it “a theater of the politically absurd.”

Fireworks on the ground: There are tons of incident video. PiPress “flash-bang grenade” video here. WCCO’s here, here and its cameraman’s arrest here. KARE’s, linked above, features a great chant: “You’re sexy, you’re cute, take off your riot suit.”

Was a 19-year-old “tortured” in the Ramsey County Jail after being swept up by riot police? Elliot Hughes says jailers beat him “after he and other prisoners were chanting for food,” the Strib’s Herón Márquez Estrada writes. Sheriff Bob Fletcher says Hughes, a self-described anarchist but not RNC Welcoming Committee member, was “extremely disruptive.” Hughes did wind up in Regions Hospital. Fletcher says jail surveillance tape will prove authorities justified.

It’s not a shock, but parents of Welcoming Committee suspects say their kids are innocent, the PiPress’ Emily Gurnon writes. Their lawyer says the case rests on confidential informants with incentives to lie (a not-uncommon defense argument) and there’s a difference between “civil disobedience” and “domestic terrorism.” One dad says his daughter marched peacefully; the criminal complaint says she and buddies threw feces and blacktop at cops from behind a shield. The suspects are charged with felonies.

MPR’s Sea Stachura says arrests now total 818, almost precisely Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher’s low-end prediction of 800. KSTP’s Jennifer Griswold looks at how special police dispatchers coordinated the police response.

The Strib’s Nick Coleman nails a sentiment many locals probably share: “That was fun. Let’s never do it again.” Business in St. Paul stank, Minneapolis got the cash instead, “anarchist/narcissists” got too much face time and 8-foot-high security fences turned St. Paul into a “corn maze.”

Was it worth it? MPR’s Laura Yuen quotes officials saying “yes,” for the police goodies and amorphous “St. Paul” mentions during the week. But she acknowledges business was “hit or miss.”

The PiPress’s Megan Boldt distills GOP pollster Frank Luntz’s recipe for a John McCain victory: Talk up common sense and accountability, leadership in times of crisis, and refer to “offshore drilling” as “deep-sea exploration.” Like Jacques Cousteau!

Article continues after advertisement

Third District GOP congressional candidate Erik Paulsen used his podium time to announce, “I will work to requaint my party with the principle of fiscal responsibility,” the PiPress’ Dennis Lien reports. DFL opponent Ashwin Madia says Republicans have been saying that for too long. The Strib’s Mark Brunswick writes that Pawlenty again touted “Sam’s Club Republicans” looking for value and accountability and sending money to China. Just kidding about that last one.

The GOP dummies up about the number of black delegates, writes the Strib’s Jon Tevlin, who quotes one nonpartisan group putting the figure at 1.5 percent, down from 7 percent in 2004. The party says it won’t ask participants to “check boxes” about race or religion. Minnesota claims 13 percent of its delegates were Hispanic, black or Asian.

Tim Pawlenty didn’t have to be told he wasn’t McCain’s veep pick; he knew before the announcement, the Strib’s Mike Kaszuba and PiPress’ Bill Salisbury write. Pawlenty said when the campaign booked him on a flight to Minneapolis on Thursday, he wouldn’t make it to Dayton that Friday. Sounds like the vetting process was Palin-like and Googlesque for him, too: “I’m not aware that they talked to anybody.” He got the deflating call about 5 a.m. MPR’s Tom Scheck says insiders still rate Mitt Romney the 2012 front-runner.

Minnesota Independent’s Paul Schmelzer posts some video fun of a guy handing out “Bush-McCain” stickers to GOP delegates.

MPR’s Collins talks to local interns for “The Daily Show.” One of their jobs? Rescuing cast members from protests. Anticipating riots, “Daily Show” officials moved lines inside Thursday, WCCO’s Darcy Pohland reports.

Strib sportswriter Jim Souhan, on-site as an “outsider” covering the convention, says “happy liberals” is an oxymoron akin to “jumbo shrimp.” Sigh. Don’t quit your day job, Jim.