A confident alpha who has “no problem with the News publishing his letter” doesn’t write so many defensive words. Having experienced first hand the “different rules for different people” policies of the News in the 2002 and 2004 elections (plus personally having been the subject of defamation so blatant the News’ attorney said it made him cringe), yes, Ray Cox doth protest too much. Publicity stunts in the dump and threatening letters from the Speaker that are contrary to black letter law are something he should be held accountable for, and yet the News bought into it. And we all remember who did the remodeling job of the paper’s office during campaign season. Editors and reporters in Ray Cox’s district just might have some interesting stories to share. And then there’s Doug Jones’ Rovian tendencies…

We’ll see how Seesz will sieze the reins this season! Unfortunately, it’s a “been there, done that” race… yawn…
In the Northfield News today:

Debunking allegations

To the editor:

A letter writer in last Saturday’s Northfield News (“Questioning the News, Saturday/Sunday, July 15-16, 5A) took the News to task over various operational issues. In doing so the writer implied that I have some sort of nebulous, controlling association with the News. None of those accusations have so much as a smattering of truth to them. While the writer has a lengthy litany of complaints, I have no problem with the News publishing his letter, nor should I or anyone else who believes in true freedom of the press.

The writer first complains that the News endorsed me in the 2004 election. He attempts to find fault with that endorsement, calling into question the ethics of the News. He doesn’t mention it, but they also endorsed me in 2002, and every time I stood for election to the Northfield school board for the previous 15 years. I thank the News for the dedicated work they put forward in evaluating candidates for office but that is the extent of my comment to them. In fact, I have always been amazed at the amount of time and resources the News allocated to the candidate review and endorsement process. I suspect their decision not to endorse candidates any longer will free up a substantial amount of time for their staff to provide additional general political coverage in all elections.

The News, like any good newspaper, separates editorial and news decisions from advertising decisions. For the writer to imply otherwise is simply uncalled for. While the writer may not be able to separate business and political functions, I know most people can, and do so on a regular basis. It may also interest the writer to know that the StarTribune endorsed me in 2004, as well as the Sierra Club and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. And yes, I subscribe to the StarTribune and have been a member of the Sierra Club and the Chamber of Commerce for decades. But to think those financial and support transactions have anything to do with a political endorsement is wrong. And it is just as wrong and unfair to imply that the News endorsed me because of an advertising account.

The writer also asserts that I am behind some covert plan to control news coverage. Again, this couldn’t be further from the truth. What the News elects to cover on the pages of their paper is their business and theirs alone. If the News determines an action or incident is worthy of press coverage, then they are free to report on it. The writer is correct that this country scrupulously defends it right to freedom of the press, as I do. The News, like any quality newspaper, also protects its business assets from slander and libel by rejecting letters and articles that contain such material. If the writer or his associates submit libelous letters to the News, I trust the News will make careful editorial decisions regarding publishing such letters. And if there was incorrect school district information contained in an earlier letter perhaps the writer would send in a correction rather than making unfair allegations against others.

The writer goes on to completely miss the distinction between serving as an elected State Representative and being a political candidate. As the State Representative from Northfield, the News has asked me from time to time to submit a legislative report during the legislative session. Earlier this year Louie Seesz, the Editor of the Northfield News, clearly stated the guest opinion policy in a column. He said anyone can contact him with an idea for a column but he retains the decision to publish. When I report on action in the Minnesota House of Representatives it is to inform my constituents. It has nothing to do with running for office. This is just another example of the writer not understanding the separation of duties and actions between serving as an elected state representative and running for a political office. There is a time, after the close of the filing period, when I do both jobs and I must carefully keep them separated. But to find fault with the News because they won’t politicize their guest columns is not a valid complaint.

Finally, the letter writer proposes that the News initiate some type of loosely organized “sounding board” to review their news content during the election period. I believe that is the job of the editor and his staff. I’m sure they would be open to discussing such a plan. But I also suspect that the News is quite comfortable using the clearly identified policies and procedures they already have in place to run their newspaper.

Ray Cox

What’s all the fuss about? Here’s a link to Paul Fried’s letter:

Questioning the NewsÂ

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