Look on the web for a story about Veterans Affairs administrators getting bonuses of up to $33,000 while the Veterans Affairs Administration faces budget shortfalls and lengthy service backlogs, and you may not easily find it in Minnesota’s mainstream media. But you will find it in some of Minnesota’s blogs, like A Bluestem Prairie, I Don’t Hate America! and Blue Man in a Red District.
While these and other blogs don’t have the resources to do hard-line investigative journalism, they are at least keeping the public informed of possible breaking stories and, in this case, the questionable use of taxpayer dollars. A Bluestem Prairie, from the 1st congressional district, notes two mainstream media articles on the VA bonuses — in the St. Petersburg Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. The story also been covered nationally by CBS, CNN, USA Today and elsewhere.
But try to find mention of it in the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune or St. Paul Pioneer Press? If you’re lucky, you’ll find an eviscerated replay of the AP version, but that’s about it. No local twist, even when one of Minnesota’s congressional delegation is in the forefront of calling for an inquiry.
Another story that’s all but been submerged locally is the widening probe into the politicization of the U.S. Justice Department. In a recent posting and interview with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., muckraking reporter Greg Palast said there is ample evidence to put Karl Rove and his former assistant Timothy Griffin, the new U.S. attorney in Arkansas, in jail. Griffin “was actually the mastermind behind the voter fraud efforts by the Bush Administration to disenfranchise over a million voters through ‘caging’ techniques, which are illegal,” said Kennedy, who is also an attorney.
What does this have to do with Minnesota? Prior to a change of administrations in the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office this past January, former Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, like Rove and Griffin a Republican, faced similar charges of trying to disenfranchise voters. And mystery still clouds the appointment and job performance of current U.S. attorney for Minnesota, Rachel Paulose. Prior to their new positions, Paulose worked in the U.S. attorney general’s office in Washington, D.C., and Griffin worked for Karl Rove in the White House.
Not much of a connection is made in the Twin Cities mainstream media, though quite a bit of analysis has been covered in Minnesota and national blogs.
At one time, the Star Tribune was counted on for strong statewide and national journalism. Now it’s all but forsaking the latter, and observers question after its current round of drastic job cuts whether it will be able to adequately pursue the former.
Due to their limited resources, blogs may not be able to fill the breach. But there’s one thing they can do: Keep needling the mainstream media to do its job.