Am I sensing a double standard when it comes to Republicans at the A.L.?

If you recall, yesterday I was posting in a slightly humorous vein on the grumpy phone call that Jonathan Ellis made to Todd Epp's answering machine, calling him out over his questioning their coverage:
... I got a rather heated phone message yesterday from the Argus Leader's Jonathan Ellis complaining to me about my coverage and comments about MSM coverage (or lack of coverage) of Pagegate. In the message, Jonathan also questioned my manhood, saying I could call him back "if I were man enough." Like some reporter at the Argus Leader gives me the willies. Yeah, right.
And you know, the more I think about it, I really have to call into question the possibility of an editorial double standard for our state's largest daily newspaper.

Possibly, it's because people are starting to ask things, such as the one I read on a website where a blog poster called into question why we hadn't heard much about this from our state's 'premier newspaper' after the story had been percolating for months. Well, honestly, I wonder that too.

It's difficult to believe that they hadn't heard about it. I can tell you without fear of much contradiction that it was literally the single worst kept bit of political gossip around. As the rumor drifted around over the months, on one or two occasions I'd summon up the cajones to ask an attorney or law enforcement point blank about it. To which they'd immediately reply "I don't know anything about that" and they'd then get away from me, fast.

To a seasoned reporter, it's like it was sending up a flare. Even a boob like me understood I wasn't being given complete information.

But, at the time, all we had is rumor and relegated to such it was best left alone as unfounded gossip. No one would go on record about it, and there was no paper trail. Without either of those, there really hadn't been anything concrete out there to latch on to, so there really wasn't a story yet, and properly so.

But in the middle of all that process something odd happened. There was another story out there with a similar nature. Lurid rumors and allegations of wrongdoing of some nature against an elected official. Except in this case, the Argus went after it whole hog. And contrary to the allegations here and now, the actor was a Republican. Here's what I clipped and had to write on it several months ago:
About what is uncertain?

Sahr supporters immediately charged he was the target of an unfair blindside attack, subject of opportunism by people who wanted to see him out of the political picture. Republican doubters offered the "where-there-is-smoke-there-is-fire" defense for asking the questions.
Even though there were differing ideas about what supposedly brought Sahr to this situation, Sahr continues to dig in and stay in the race, even with news of a possible investigation.

Read it all here. Who are these multitudes of nameless people? And why, apparently, do they only talk to the Argus Leader, since the mystery letter went to literally every political reporter in the state.

So far, we've got Dave reporting on it, and he's the only one reporting on it. And a select few offering comment in response to his inquries. This is all on a story that no one else will touch because of the anonymous allegations. So far, we don't have an accuser, nor has anyone been named as a subject of investigation. But, according to Dave, there's a story there.
Here's the irony - the Sutton allegations were swirling around in the amosphere at the same time that the Sahr allegations came out, if not before. Every reporter had likely heard the sets of rumors on both, and (at the time) each had about as much substance. You had rumors of allegations, and rumors of supposed investigations.

So, given the same amount of information available for each, someone please explain why the Argus decided to tank one candidate over another? Why did they torpedo Bob Sahr's relection, and give Dan Sutton a bye? It certainly can't be because of an anonymous, unsigned letter?

Fast forward to today. Bob Sahr has been effectively driven from office and there's still no more information out there then when the Argus started it's hatchet job. For Sutton, there's a special session of the legslature pending, a paper trail regarding the senate inquiry, witnesses set to testify, and no lack of available information.

Clearly, one was picked over the other. It was the Republican who they decided to sacrifice over a few allegations.

It's not like the Argus doesn't have a long history of vendetta against Republicans. Their clashes with Bill Janklow are legendary. They've been on an a more that two year campaign against our current Governor. In fact my #6 story of 2005 was the Argus' constant campaign against Governor Rounds:
6. Argus Leader’s Assault on the Governor

The Associated Press considered the Argus Leader’s series of stories of the use of the State Airplane by the Governor as one of its top ten stories. Should that be one of the top ten political stories? Some would argue, yes. But there’s something that has come up since that blurs the focus of that issue for me.

After that series of stories, there have been editorials from the Argus Leader’s editor, Randall Beck. (here, here and here) A story is a story, and that’s fine. But in those editorials from the editor, it’s at least apparent to me that he doesn’t care for our state’s chief executive.

One editorial from Mr. Beck blasted a local group for giving the Governor an award. Another took an additional swipe at him. The tone of these editorials comes off as… well, it certainly seems that he has an ax to grind.

And it takes those stories that they consider serious journalism and places them in a light that some would characterize as partisan.
Read that here.

And on a statewide level, they most recently submarined Bob Sahr at the same time that Dan's allegations got a walk.

Even though Jonathan Ellis is taking some crap for it, it's not my intent to single him out. He's done a fine job writing about the Sutton thing once it broke. (He just shouldn't leave messages for bloggers.)

I hate to fall into the trap that's been played out more than once on the conservative end of the South Dakota blogosphere, and just flat out say the Argus Leader hates Republicans. But it's hard to not sit up and take notice of certain trends.

When can anyone honestly say that the Argus Leader broke a story about a scandal or an issue of concern involving major Democrats? I can't think of any off the top of my head. On one side they're happy to lead the charge. On the other.... Let's just say that lead is not the action word that comes to mind.

Am I going to change the world by pointing all of this out? No. But does it remind them that people are watching how they cover stories? I hope so.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Nicely written, my good sir.

THE ARGUS LEADER IS NOT A LEGITIMATE NEWS SOURCE.

I think you can measure a person's intelligence on how much he or she is influenced by the Argus Liar...I mean Leader, and I think we will find out how intelligent SD is come November.
Anonymous said…
Major Dem? We only have 2 Tim and Stephine. As Lee says the Dem's are irrelevant. So, I guess you have an ax to grind with the Argus because they don't allow a pass to politicians that act like Royality instead of Servants.
Anonymous said…
PP hits the nail on the head in this post. The Argus Leader has been a shill for the South Dakota Democrats for decades and Dave Kranz has been the chief shiller. Remember, it was Kranz who was writing the stories that tanked Bob Sahr. Always remember. Bob will.
nonnie said…
We take the Argus, but if it was me paying for me, we wouldn't. The only things I read are the letters to the editor. At least then we are getting common people's viewpoints, if they are lucky enough to get their letter printed, that is.

The problem is that many, many people do not realize it's slanted Democrat, and they are the ones easily influenced by the Argus. One good thing about the "new" format is that more people will be turned off by the paper and quit reading it!!
Anonymous said…
let's get citizens together and demand the Argus stop sucking so much
Bette said…
don't forget that in addition to relentless attacks on Governor Janklow and Rounds that the Argus was mercilous in attacking Larry Pressler and George Mickelson too...all Republicans. But they couldn't think of enough positive adjectives when slobbering all over Tom Daschle and now Stephanie Herseth. People at the Argus think South Dakotans are morons...but many know what the Argus is up to
Anonymous said…
don't blame the Dems and the Argus for shooting Bob in the back. His own party (possibly the Rep. Candidate) took him out.
Sal said…
do you people have a memory that can reach back more than a year?? don't you remember how the pro-Thune bloggers exposed the writers at the Argus with old writings and memos in which they confessed to being flaming liberals?? sheesh, do a google on some of those people
Anonymous said…
so has the Argus said why they treated these two situations differently? or are we just get to get a belligerent lecture from Randell Beck?
Anonymous said…
I don't think anyone can claim that the Argua Leader is a fair or unbiased news source. Governor Rounds, Mayor Munson, and Pam Homan are among their most frequent targets.

I really believe that the door is wide open for someone to start another daily newspaper to compete with the Argus. It is comfortable in its monopoly position - it needs a fair unbiased competitor.
Anonymous said…
You're all a bunch of whiny cry-asses. Where's the story about the Mitchell Daily Republic's Republican "bias".
Anonymous said…
Remember people, except for the Princess and Johnson (who stays out of the news until election time-hum) this is a one party state. Why would you cover the democratic party or its candidates, no one will vote for them anyways.
Mimi said…
I am much better off now that I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal versus the Argus..On the Sahr issue, that appeared to be Republican v. Republican which didn't put any of us in a good light.
Douglas said…
The Argus sucks, but not necessarily because of any real or imagined partisan slant. The new "less is more" paper layout sucks. The RCJ editorial page usually sucks, but at least there is some consistent logic in the organization of the paper.

SD Republicans have had so much free good press for so many years that when a paper actually prints something which might be unbiased, the righteous right reacts with horror when their myths are challenged.
Anonymous said…
I believe that the correct name when referring to Kranz is "Dave, the Democrat, Kranz" Then everyone understands exactly what they are getting.
Anonymous said…
"Remember, it was Kranz who was writing the stories that tanked Bob Sahr."


Bob Sahr tanked Bob Sahr.

Who resigns and gives up a promising political career because of rumors that aren't true?
Anonymous said…
Maybe someone who has enough mudslinged at them and then told the delagates weren't there for him b/c of the work done by Lee, Randy, John and others before convention and before you/someone knew about it...with a little more time fighting might have done something, little more time, hum, sounds familiar.
Anonymous said…
I don't know, guys. I mean, the Sahr/Sutton debachle was a little odd.

Remember, though, the state is under a 1-party system. Someone has to hold these people accountable for the things that just don't make sense.

Like it or not, the Argus, at the very least, drives the debate. They have some very talented writers on staff - certainly better than anywhere in the state.

The beautiful thing about newspapers, if they choose to accept their destiny, is that the encourage debate and an active citizenry.

It's not their job to be popular. That will take care of itself. And, they are the most popular paper in the state.
Anonymous said…
Kranz sank Sahr? How does a candidate have a logo, professional signs made, and a campaign manager pulled together in 4 days before a convention? There was no mention of anything in the paper more than 7 days before convention, and Bob made his decision on the Tuesday before convention. Remember Koskan said he would not run if Sahr was going too. To quote Koskan, "That's the beauty of a rumor." Read between the lines, not the Argus Leader.
Anonymous said…
Plus Koskan was told he would likely get Sahr's campaign money, before Sahr knew...not sure if it's happened or not.

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