Wednesday, June 04, 2003

The art of bias
I sent this letter to the editor of the Argus Leader on 3/9/03:

David Kranz’s 3/9/03 column regarding how the perception that Bush’s lack of support for drought relief cost John Thune the 2002 Senate race at least demonstrates the importance that issue would have been on 9/20/02. On that date I received the following email from David Kranz, “I am not sure when I will get back to it. Right now I am stacked up with election stuff on the Senate Governor and House race. I will let you know.”

His reply was to my request to not let Tom Daschle spin out of his 5/26/02 comments made on “Meet the Press” regarding the behemoth 2002 farm bill. Daschle stated, “We’re getting rid of those ad hoc disaster payment approaches.” On 9/18/02 Kranz reported Daschle’s spin by stating that he was referring to economic disasters, not natural disasters.

The fact that the top 10 percent of farm-subsidy recipients collect two-thirds of the money needed to be understood by South Dakota voters. This includes billionaire Corporate executives such as David Rockefeller ($352,187) and Ted Turner ($176,077).

Daschle whines about the economic disasters from deficits created when these billionaires receive Bush’s tax cuts. Why doesn’t he whine when the wealthy receive farm-aid money? Why didn’t David Kranz care about this point on 9/20/02?

The last sentence, in bold, was not included when the Argus Leader publsihed it on 4/8/03. So I asked the Executive Editor, Randell Beck, why. His response:

Steve: i do value your comments as part of the process of holding us accountable. Without knowing exactly what went into the editing of that particular letter, i cannot respond exactly on point. it is clear, from the reading of it, that we did maintain your central criticism of David in the letter; we did not omit that. Any reader of the letter can logically see that you are criticizing David for his handling of the Daschle issue. And I have no problem with that. I do know that we try, with every letter, no matter the object, to keep content on the high road and to keep it from getting personal. That certainly has held true on politics and political coverage. Just as we have tried to keep both pro and anti Daschle letters from getting too awful personal, and thus have edited some with that in mind, i do think it is important to hold the same standard for letters directed at us. We preserved, I think, the main point of your complaint. But, as youi know, we still have to bring some uniformity of editing to the letters.
Best regards, Randell

If the Argus leader truly ment to maintain my central criticism of David Kranz, then why did the Argus Leader title the letter, "Farm subsidies"? They should have left the last sentence in and a better title would have been, "Kranz oversite benefits Daschle and Johnson". On the night of 9/17/02, I warned Kranz about the Daschle spin, and that the original point Russert was addressing on 5/26/02 (the behemoth farm bill with large sums going to people like Ted Turner and David Rockefeller) needed to be readdressed. Kranz neglected to do that in his 9/18/02 column. That would have put Daschle, Kranz's college buddy, back on the spot.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

The David Kranz Story Part Six
Remember what I said in Part Five, when talking about Democrats, Kranz can be so kind, but when talking about Republicans, not so kind. In the middle of the Thorsness-Daschle 1978 battle for Congress, Kranz mention this in his 9/23/78 Mitchell Daily Republic column:

It rained in Kranzburg’s centennial last weekend, but all and all it was a good time. A decent parade attracted a good number of people, not quite the 4th of July crowd, but still enough to hit the 100 year mark in style. It was also a good location for politicians to be.

Democrats, Barnett, McKellips and Daschle and Republican Thorsness made an appearance.

Daschle and his wife got the fashion attention though when they came attired in Kranzberg Centennial T-shirts.

The Mitchell paper ran an Opinion piece on 9/29/78 that included an attack on Thorsness:

Herb Cheever, chairman of the Democratic party has raised a point recently concerning these gradious ideas of tax cut gifts to the “voters” that merits review.

The column went on to make the following point:

A particular instance that might be cited here is the Leo Thorsness campaign. In 1974, in a strongly worded statement, Thorsness told the Watertown public Opinion, “Anybody that says let’s cut taxes when we are going through the throngs of double didget inflation, that’s political hog wash. Its out to get votes and it is not what this country needs today.”

Today, Thorsness runs a congressional campaign with the simple slogan: “Vote Yourself a Tax Cut."

So in essence, what Cheever points out, is true to the word. Vote getting is the name of the game even if it means compromising your position from one campaign to the next.

Then this showed up in a 10/7/78 Kranz column:

First District speculators are almost willing to concede that one to Tom Daschle. The negative tone that Leo Thorsness has taken in the past two weeks is a give-away that he knows he is in trouble, Negative campaigns, with the possible exception of Bob Short, usually get a candidate nowhere fast.

On 10/12/78, a Mitchell Daily opinion piece included:

First District Congress: Tom Daschle vs. Leo Thorsness. Strategy here, since there is no incumbent should be based on the present status of the race. There is no poll around that shows anything but a Tom Daschle victory in November.

On 11/4/78, just prior to the election, Kranz included this in his column:

Daschle’s heavy lead has reduced Thorsness campaign to emotional attacks on Daschle that seem to have backfired. It is clearly evident when a campaign changes tactics as quickly as Thorsness’ did a month ago, it was a demonstration of desperation. They dumped their tax cut strategy and went to the right to work and abortion issues that have caused the campaign to be painted bright negative. At one point Thorsness admitted publicly that Daschle’s own poll showed Daschle two points behind, but the fact is Daschle's own poll has shown him leading anywhere from 14 to 26 points since day one of the campaign. Nothing less. A Thorsness win would be an upset.

I wonder what Kranz was thinking when the 11/8/78 headline in the Mitchell Daily Republic read “1st District race too close to call”. And the 11/9/78 AP report that Thorsness today had a 42 vote election night lead.

This wasn’t the last time wishful thinking regarding Daschle has clouded Kranz’s reporting of political issues. Remember the front page Argus Leader story by Kranz that Daschle was going to announce his 2004 campaign for President. It ran the same day Daschle announced he was not running for President in 2004. Obviously the Argus Leader had egg on its face. Not so obvious was the cook that did it ... David Kranz.

Monday, June 02, 2003

The David Kranz Story Part Five
Hubert Humphrey died in January 1978. Dave Kranz wrote this special column in the 1/18/78 issue of the Mitchell Daily Republic:

It really wasn’t anything unusual to know Hubert Humphrey if you were from Minnesota. For Humphrey knew just about everybody, shook just about everybody’s hand and talked politics for a few minutes with a goo many of the people who make up the state’s population.
And anyone who really knew Hubert well could spend most of the day telling stories about the time when…
In the course of eight years in Minnesota I had the privilege of talking politics and interviewing Humphrey on several occasions and I too could sit and tell stories about things that left impressions on a rookie reporter on through an editor’s status.
But one incident that will always be my first recollection of Humphrey happened in February, 1976.
Humphrey had planned a benefit appearance for the Democratic Party in Mower County. It was to be one of the most extravagant events in Austin had ever planned for the Happy Warrior. And that it was.
Knowing my grandpa had been an admirer of Humphrey’s for years, I though he might like to attend. My grandma and grandpa had talked about Humphrey on many occasions over the past 35 years.
A month before, my grandma had passed away, but a few months before, my grandparents had celebrated 60 years of marriage. On that date Hubert and Muriel and Sen. And Mrs. McGovern had remembered them with eloquent tributes. That rekindled my grandpa’s interest in politics, for Hubert and George ranked right along with FDR and Harry Truman in his books.
Although he was 88 at the time, he jumped at the chance to travel across Minnesota to see an old friend again. My dad, mom and sister brought him from Watertown to the dinner.
Humphrey had learned from the party chairman that my grandpa had made the trip.
I had hoped to have my grandpa get reacquainted with Hubert after the speech if there was time.
But what happened was totally surprising. After the master of ceremonies introduced the various dignitaries, he introduced Humphrey.
He told the people of Austin, 300 of them, how good it was to see them again.
Then he set aside his planned speech for a few minutes and began telling the crowd about William Cordell who was an old friend of his from his home county of Codington County. He told them of his interest in Democratic politics and his dedication over the years.
He told them of the trip he had made that night to see him again and then asked him to stand and meet the crowd.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen my grandpa smile so much.
It was an unbelievable and moving experience for me and my family.
Afterward, while some of the dignitaries waited to meet and renew acquaintances, with their senator, Hubert came to my grandpa and my family and spent several minutes visiting with them. He told them how proud he was that they could come and how good it was to see his old friends form Codington county again.
They talked politics for awhile, with my grandpa getting in just as much political time as Hubert in the conservation. It was some kind of testimony to the kind of man Hubert Humphrey was.
We didn’t expect to do anything but say hi that night.
But because Humphrey cared, he made it a memorable experience.

I guess Mr. Kranz was a part of a big happy Democratic family. When talking about Democrats, Kranz can be so kind. As we will see later, when talking about Republicans, Kranz can be…well…not so kind.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Then there was Daschlegate
In today's Argus Leader is another Daschle partisan whining about Thune's lobbying with drug companies. Yet to be printed, is my letter to the editor pointing out Linda Daschle's lobbying effort's with drug company Schering-Plough.

Now Schering-Plough is facing obstruction charges for destroying documents. The Daschle's have also been involved in news in regard to destroying documents:

Heightening the Daschlegate intrigue, an FAA office manager at the time said she was ordered by superiors to destroy documents relevant to the fatal crash to protect the Senator's wife, Linda, who was then second in command at the agency.

The three government physicians were killed when a plane operated by B&L Aviation crashed in Minot, N.D., on Feb. 24, 1994. B&L was owned by longtime Daschle crony Murl Bellew, who, before the crash, had asked his senator friend to help when the Forest Service found numerous safety violations with his aircraft.

According to the New York Times, the Senator then began "a two-year effort to strip the U.S. Forest Service of authority to inspect air charter companies." What's more, it appears Daschle tried to cover up his attempt to undermine the Forest Service.

In a Feb. 5, 1995, report, the Times revealed:

"[Daschle] initially said that he never pressed the Forest Service to get its inspectors to relax their inspections on B&L. But in November, a senior Daschle aide said that he had, with the senator's knowledge, intervened directly with the Forest Service inspectors who had warned that B&L was unsafe."

More evidence that the senator's denial was untrue emerged when documents turned up showing that Daschle had personally leaned on the Washington supervisors of the inspectors who had given his friend a bad rating.

The Times added:

"Two FAA inspectors who spoke on condition of anonymity said in recent interviews that the Senator helped Mr. Bellew when he flunked a safety check in 1987."

After Daschle intervened, one agency official was "called on the carpet to explain what happened," the FAA source said.

Then there's the account of Cathy Jones, an FAA office manager in Rapid City, S.D.

Jones told investigators that she was ordered to destroy documents relevant to the case because they "contained information with the possible appearance of improper intervention by Senator Daschle on behalf of the FAA."

The documents in question, Jones said, "would make the FAA look bad" because of Mrs. Daschle's top job with the agency.

In the years since various Democrat-controlled legal authorites took a pass on the scandal, the deaths of the three government doctors have been all but forgotten.

This story was also covered by 60 Minutes. I am sure Daschle's college buddy, David Kranz, would like to forget all about this too.

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