In his Star Tribune column today Nick Coleman criticizes us in part for being unconcerned about disclosing conflicts of interest, unlike responsible members of the mainstream media such as he holds himself out to be. Although we have rarely mentioned him or his column on this site, it so happens that we have written about him here six times this month.
In our six posts about Coleman this month we have taken issue with his columns and his related correspondence with readers in both a straightforward factual manner and in a satirical vein. Yet Coleman omits any mention of our recent criticisms of his columns and correspondence in his column today. He only vaguely acknowledges that he “gets ripped a lot on the site.” In none of our comments on Coleman, however, have we “ripped” him in the abusive personal manner that he “rips” us today. He also alludes to the fact that we have described him in connection with his column as a reliable partisan hack. Today he returns the favor; on that score, fair enough.
Rather than making any mention of the attention we have paid to his columns this month, however, he uses his column today to launch a vicious personal attack while pretending to administer justice to us in his capacity as the voice of the people. Isn’t a journalist’s particular stake in the subject matter of his columns something journalists are to recognize as a conflict of interest and disclose appropriately? Coleman himself suggests that it is.
I first wrote about Coleman this month on December 12 in “A case study.” The first two paragraphs of that post are as follows:
I preface this post with these personal notes. I am a member of the board of directors of Minnesota’s Center of the American Experiment. Former Minnesota Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke is now a senior fellow of the Center; I became a fan of hers during her service as Education Commissioner and consider her a friend. This story involves Dr. Yecke and Minnesota’s dominant newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Some of the information included here derives from Dr. Yecke.
Over the years the Star Tribune has published many of the columns that Rocket Man and I have submitted to the paper as op-ed columns. Our experience with the op-ed page has been uniformly pleasant, with the single exception of the vicious personal attack on us this summer by deputy editorial page editor Jim Boyd. This fall I was also the subject of critical comments by Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman, who is one of the protagonists in this case study. I ask that you take into account all the cautionary notes above in considering the following.
I then went on to take issue with one of Coleman’s recent columns.
We next wrote about Coleman’s two columns on homelessness in “The tragedy of mindlessness” and in “The tragedy of mindlessness, Act II.” We subsequently commented in a satirical vein on Coleman’s correspondence with his readers in “Epistles of Saint Nick,” “Judgment of Saint Nick,” and “The gospel according to Saint Nick.”
For Coleman to wield his column in the state’s dominant newspaper as a weapon to punish those who have taken issue with his work, and for him to do so in the knowingly false manner he has done so today, is a matter that should be of concern to those within the walls of the Star Tribune and beyond. It certainly is to me.