The recent DNT endorsement of Chip Cravaack, a conservative Republican who enjoys a lot of Tea Party support, made me want to tap the PDD community for information and discussion of the DNT endorsements over the years. The Fargo-based, private company Forum Communications became owner of the DNT in 2006. Since then, the DNT and the many other Forum newspapers overwhelmingly tend to endorse conservatives and Republicans as a bloc.
This calls into question whether the DNT editorial staff is independent of its Republican ownership, headed by wealthy Republican donor and Forum CEO William C. Marcil. There is evidence that all Forum newspapers tend to endorse the same conservative candidates as a bloc and are influenced by Republican owners.
MinnPost: “Duluth, Bemidji, Fargo newspapers endorse Horner for governor”
Eyeteeth: “One man, many votes: On owner-driven endorsements”
UMD Media Law and Ethics: “Editorial endorsements raise questions of transparency, independence at Duluth News Tribune”
If the Forum newspaper editorials were indeed independent, one would expect there to be many differences in the endorsements across the years and the many newspapers they own. If there are essentially little or no differences among the endorsements, and the endorsements reflect the Republican ownership views, then it appears like there is little editorial independence.
Since the Forum takeover, the DNT has endorsed:
1. Republican Pawlenty over Hatch for Governor.
2. Republican Coleman over Franken for Senate.
3. Republican Cravaack over Oberstar for Congress.
4. Republicans McCain/Palin for President/Vice-President.
5. Lifelong Republican Horner (recently turned independent) over Dayton for Governor.
6. Republican Mary Kiffmeyer over Mark Ritchie for Secretary of State.
Here are some questions:
1. What were the endorsements like before Forum took over the DNT?
2. Is there a comprehensive list of endorsements since Forum took over the DNT?
3. Is there any further evidence of editorial independence or lack thereof since the takeover? For example, is there evidence from people who have sat in on the meetings with or have received communications from William C. Marcil (who seems to have pushed editorial staff to endorse Republicans)?
4. Was there an immediate shift in endorsements after Forum took over the DNT? Was there a gradual shift? Have any liberals been endorsed by the DNT since the Forum Comm takeover?
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