Rochelle Olson: Reckless disregard

A reader comments on Rochelle Olson’s story in today’s Star Tribune on last night’s Fifth District candidates’ debate at Beth El Synagogue in Minneapolis. The reader’s comments come in the form of a message to Olson and Star Tribune reader’s represenative (I prefer “reporter’s enabler”) Kate Parry:

Hi Kate and Rochelle-
just had to write again. I attended the 5th District debate last night at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park. The debate frankly was kind of a snooze – a bunch of softball questions, none that ever addressed the primary reason the sanctuary was full of (mostly Jewish) audience members – the controversy surrounding Keith Ellison’s past involvement with the Nation of Islam and current involvement with CAIR. However, I was a bit dismayed to see that Rochelle’s story about the debate made much of Alan Fine being “booed by many” (not true, I was there….it was not “many,” it was a few people booing loudly – yet Rochelle saw fit to mention it twice) when he called Ellison out on these issues, yet made no mention of the fact that a there was a small but spontaneous loud burst of applause for Fine after he made these comments. Why mention one and not the other? Rochelle even contradicts herself in her own article – at one point she says that Fine was “booed and hissed at twice by some” and later she said he was “booed by many.” Which is it, Rochelle? “Some” or “many”? The two words are not identical in meaning….not by a long shot.
It’s one thing to read the StarTribune’s coverage of this race day after day and suspect that there is bias going on – it’s quite another to witness that bias firsthand. It is unconscionable to me that Rochelle chose to mention the booing of Fine but not the applause for him. I was there – I saw it and heard it with my own eyes and ears.
Alas, Rochelle’s constant digs at Alan Fine and bias against him are getting a bit too obvious – she takes care to note that Alan Fine didn’t show up at the first debate and “moderators were unable to provide a reason.” Why not just say that Alan Fine was unable to attend for unknown reasons, rather than “he didn’t show up and nobody could give a reason.” There are several ways to write sentences, but Rochelle constantly errs on the side of writing her sentences to make Alan Fine look bad. Interesting, really interesting. Then, later in the article, in discussing Alan Fine’s negative comments about the StarTribune, she once again reveals her bias by following the paragraph about Fine’s expunged arrest with a quote from Alan Fine talking about the importance of character. Nice juxtaposition. Once again, Rochelle’s plainly obvious bias shines through – she is clearly saying to her readers “Alan Fine says one thing but does another.” (Never mind the fact that Fine’s record was expunged and he was given custody of his son – something a judge would never do if he truly believed that Alan Fine was a domestic abuser)
But, even if Mr. Fine is guilty of some hypocrisy here (I don’t believe he is, but for the sake of argument…) – isn’t Mr. Ellison also guilty of hypocrisy? He repeatedly insists that he has rejected groups that work against the best interests of Israel and the Jews (like the Nation of Islam) but continues to associate with groups like CAIR which also work against the best interests of Israel and the Jews? Where is Rochelle Olson pointing out this hypocrisy on the part of Ellison? Ellison claims an “18-month” involvement in the Nation of Islam but the record clearly shows nearly a decade of involvement. Ellison claims he didn’t realize the “extent to which anti-Semitism” was present in the Nation of Islam, which is akin to a Klansman claiming he didn’t realize the “extent to which racism” played a role in the Ku Klux Klan. But no, Rochelle never mentions these things – much better to take aim and fire again and again at Alan Fine, I guess.
Moreover, Rochelle takes pains to call the reaction Fine got for his comments about character “scattered, brief applause,” yet Fine is “booed by many.” I was there. The booing of Fine was scattered and brief too. But no….once again, the slant comes through – Fine bad, Ellison good. Rochelle’s reporting would lead one to believe that Fine’s comments were hated by many and loved by few. Not true – I was there. Just plain lies, Rochelle. Lies.
Why does the StarTribune continue to cover this important race in this manner? In one small article on yesterday’s debates, I found several instances of bias that contradicted my own firsthand experiences at the Beth El debate. I find this kind of reporting to be reprehensible. I know that this email won’t change things any more than any of my other emails to you, but I just thought you should know that I’m onto your game by now, and it’s pretty sad to see a once-reputable, objective newspaper like the StarTribune stoop this low in terms of bias.

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