Star Tribune fails to Highlight David Hann's Conflict of Interest

Does Jim Ragsdale care about the truth?

The Star Tribune took a while to introduce it's readers to the new Minnesota Senate Minority Leader David Hann who was elected by his caucus last Friday. The delay couldn't have been because of any research. Jim Ragsdale wrote the article and fails to note Hann's conflict of interest and ethical lapses.

Furthermore, Ragsdale never fact-checks anything Sen. Hann says. He falls into the Strib's standard practice of she-said/he-said journalism.

Republicans in the Minnesota Senate elected Sen. David Hann of Eden Prairie to lead the caucus, which will be in the minority in the chamber following Tuesday's election.

Hann, who chaired the Health and Human Services Committee while his party was in the majority for the past two years, was selected during a private meeting of the senators on Friday. He is a former candidate for governor and was a candidate for majority leader of his caucus a year ago, when the senators chose Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, instead.

The first missed opportunity for real journalism comes in the fourth paragraph:

Hann became known in the last two years as a forceful opponent of federal health-care reform and a state health insurance exchange, which is expected to be announced last week. He was re-elected to his Eden Prairie Senate seat on Tuesday.

Does Ragsdale even know what Hann did on the health care issue? There is no way to tell from his article as his euphemistic "forceful opponent" says absolutely nothing about what Hann actually did in opposition to healthcare reform.

Hann lied. He took a trip to Washington, DC as a publicity stunt instead of doing anything meaningful. Then Senator Linda Berglin (DFL-Mpls) summed it up this way:

"It's telling that Senator Hann never met with the President or anyone from his administration," said Sen. Linda Berglin (DFL-Mpls).  Berglin is an expert on health care issues. "The bottom line is that Senator Hann needs President Obama's support to accomplish his goal, and seemingly even he understands he will never get it."

"In the meantime, he wasted several days of critical legislative time that could have been spent working out some of the contentious issues in the Health and Human Services budget," Berglin continued.  "Senator Hann should be focused on putting together a balanced budget rather than pursuing a Tea Party pipe dream."

"Republicans want to take away Minnesotans' Medicaid benefits and replace them with an unaffordable voucher," Berglin concluded.  "This is a devastating plan for families and the wrong direction for Minnesota."

Journalists at the Strib never, ever fact check anything a Republican says. They firmly believe in a she-said/he-said kind of journalism exemplified by the following paragraph in Ragsdale's article:

Hann repeated the party's election argument -- that they turned a $6 billion deficit into a $1 billion surplus during their tenure. DFLers challenged the statement on the campaign trail because the state borrowed $2.4 billion from public schools in order to balance the budget. The state also faces a large projected deficit in the next biennium.

Ragsdale and all reporters at the Strib are completely and utterly unwilling or incapable of fact-checking anything a Republican says.

So the DFL says his numbers are wrong. So what?

What is the independent analysis of the veracity of Hann's statement? It doesn't matter to Ragsdale and the Strib -- The truth does not matter.

This craven sort of journalism is the biggest problem at the Strib.

Here's where Ragsdale could have done some digging and asked a few questions about the lies the those leaders told in the wake of the Koch-Brodkorb sex scandal.

Hann, 60, was first elected in 2002. Last year, he was one of the Senate leaders who announced the discovery of an affair between Sen. Amy Koch, then the majority leader, and a staffer. That led to Koch's resignation as majority leader  and to the departure of the staffer, Michael Brodkorb, who is now suing the state.

Alas, this is all we're getting from Ragsdale on how Hann and et al bungled the Koch-Brodkorb sex scandal as it broke.

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