Media access in one state

The Washington Free Beacon’s Collin Anderson reports on my exclusion from the daily COVID-19 press briefings by the state authorities in “Minnesota governor stonewalls conservative journalist.” Working on the story, Collin elicited statements from the governor’s office and from the Minnesota Department of Health regarding my exclusion. By contrast, my inquiries have elicited the sound of silence, so we’re getting somewhere.

Collin forwarded the responses to his inquiries for my comments. Walz’s office sent a message explaining that “the Governor’s press conferences are covered by the Minnesota Capitol Press Corps – a dozen media outlets that are credentialed by the Minnesota State Legislature, rent office space in the Minnesota Capitol building, and routinely cover state government.” This is the circle of love that I have referred to in my series.

Walz’s office added that it also works with media beyond the Capitol press corps with this proviso: “The only interviews we shy away from—especially during the pandemic—are requests from unconventional news sources with overt ties to partisan political groups.” Here the governor’s office cited this MPR story including Alpha News (which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization on whose board I sit). I represented both Power Line and Alpha News in my request for inclusion in the briefings. Power Line does not fall into either of the stigmatized categories, at least by my lights.

Collin also asked the governor’s office if it had directed the Department of Health to cut me off. This aspect of Collin’s inquiry received the sound-of-silence treatment to which I have become accustomed.

Collin directed an inquiry along the same lines to the Minnesota Department of Health. MDH press officer Michael Schommer responded that “we need to limit call participation only to professional journalists.” In the past 28 years I think I’ve broken more stories and written for more publications for pay than the average Star Tribune reporter, and I was included on the MDH briefings until April 27. Where did I go wrong? Perhaps we will find out before the Coronavirus in one state series comes to an end.

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