I have dealt with many fine reporters at the Minneapolis Star Tribune over the years. Foremost among them in my estimation is Kevin Duchschere. In “A case study,” I wrote here recently about the Mark Kennedy-Patty Wetterling congressional race, basing my comments on one of Kevin’s Star Tribune stories. Kevin has responded to what I wrote as follows (with only his cordial greeting deleted):
I saw your commentary on Mrs. Wetterling’s campaign, under the heading “A Case Study.” As usual, you provide a good summary, but I must take issue with your suggestions that I’m (a) attempting to presage an impending upset, and (b) seeking to bury the results of a poll which may hurt her.
First of all, my story never said anything about an upset. It said she had a chance to win, which in a congressional race is no mean feat but which, nevertheless, leaves much ground to cover. The only time the word “upset” appears in the story, I think, is in the headline — and as you know, reporters don’t write those. Nonetheless, I won’t quibble with the headline writer — hers is, in fact, a bid for an upset. Anytime you beat a congressional incumbent it’s an upset, and that’s what she is aiming for. Given her name and backing, she’s better positioned for that than any other congressional challenger in Minnesota. That may not be enough. We’ll find out Tuesday.
Second, I announced the results of the poll on the cover page, before the jump, and followed with some specifics at the end of the story. I thought that was appropriate, given that we were fed the poll only a couple hours before deadline and I wasn’t able to fully evaluate its credibility — I’d never heard of the pollsters, for starters. If it had been one of our polls, of course, we would have expended more newsprint on it. I wasn’t trying to bury anything, only give it the play I thought it deserved. To do otherwise would be irresponsible.
Mrs. Wetterling is a unique candidate who commands unusual respect, regardless of whether you agree with her political positions. Unlike most new candidates, she’s been able to raise an extraordinary amount of money. She certainly deserves our scrutiny, but I don’t think she needs our help. And she’s not getting it, from this quarter anyway.