STATE of CORRUPTION III: Media Collusion? These guys would LIE about what our favorite COLOR is

May 14

UPDATED: Example: KSTP-TV distorted stadium poll findings.

Did Twin Cities journalism outlets take a dive during the debate over the $1B Vikings stadium proposal? Help crowd-source my effort to remember the worst moments, most-naked conflicts of interest and most-egregious omissions. Maybe there were even noteworthy exceptions when mainstream media outlets distinguished themselves. I don’t remember any, but surprise me.

Would these make your list of low lights?

Channel 4′s Mark Rosen editorializing on air, just before the Stadium Vote?

KFAN Radio using the airwaves to browbeat and abuse stadium opponents?

The Strib’s failure to do any opinion polling on the issue after the actual proposal was made public?

The straight-faced reporting by almost all media of an advocacy “push-poll” effort to manufacture grassroots support?

The near-complete absence of critical columns and comments during six months of maneuvering?

The bogus reports of Zygi’s plane being spotted in Los Angeles?

The failure by reporters to bust down the closed doors and prevent the secret-meetings that cooked up the deal?

Or how about this: The Strib’s Patrick Reusse critically examining stadium financials to show that the Vikings will pay virtually nothing out of their own coffers for their new stadium — only AFTER the deal was done???

Here’s a little nugget to chew on to get you started, courtesy of Channel 5:

RED OR BLUE? What’s your favorite color? Too bad. We Only Care What Zygi’s Favorite Color Is

What is Minnesota’s Favorite Color?

Read the following numbers and tell me, if these were the results from a survey of Minnesotans, what is our favorite color?
Careful: You have to act as if the poll came from a lame-stream for-profit media outlet trying to keep its Minnesota Vikings-related revenue stream intact. Got it? OK, here are the numbers:

16 % — BLUE

36 % — Usually BLUE

42% — RED

OK, what’s our favorite color? BLUE, right? 16 percent say blue outright, another 36 percent say usually blue. That adds up to 52 percent — so a bit MORE THAN HALF of Minnesotans say blue is their favorite color. You are very naive. Wake up, sucker.
KSTP-TV would tell you Minnesotans say RED is their favorite color. That’s how they interpreted the exact same percentages last week, in a “poll” in which Channel 5 said a plurality of Minnesota favor building a new stadium. Imagine how fast that news went around the Capitol. Virtually no polling was done on the stadium issue since last Fall, when clear majorities of the public opposed a new stadium, and before the details of the eventual boondoggle were released. Into this polling vacuum came a pretend poll done by a pro-stadium advocacy group that used what is known as a push-poll technique. Here’s an example: “Would You Approve or Disapprove of a new Vikings Stadium…if opposing a new stadium meant your grandmother would die.”

Uh, OK, I guess I’m in favor of a new stadium. I love Granny’s ginger snaps.

This fake poll was widely reported.

The only other poll I am aware of at present was last week’s KSTP poll — a real poll, perhaps, but one in which the results were poorly reported — poorly enough to be labeled a serious distortion of the findings.

Here are the questions Channel 5 asked:

“Should the Minnesota Vikings keep playing football in the Metrodome without renovating it?

Should they renovate the stadium and keep playing in it?

Or should a new stadium be built?”

And here are the answers they got:
16% Keep Playing, Don’t Renovate
36% Renovate the Metrodome
43% Build a New Stadium

OK, pretty clear: Headline should say: A Majority of Minnesotans oppose new stadium; Prefer Metrodome

That headline would have been consistent with past findings, and would accurately have reflected these findings. Instead, Channel 5 reported the results this way:

“Though Minnesotans remain divided on what to do about the Minnesota Vikings, a plurality now for the first time supports building a new stadium (emphasis mine), according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for KSTP-TV Minneapolis / St. Paul.

A plurality supports a stadium?! For the first time!

Really? No, a MAJORITY opposes one. How did this happen? This is either deliberate distortion or serious incompetence.

The true finding — a majority in opposition — was bolstered by other findings in the poll: 58 percent of respondents said they believed that only private funding should be used for a new stadium; and 67 percent said the public should get to vote on the stadium plan. These, in themselves, were significant findings that might have affected the “debate,” if they had been properly reported. Instead, the impact of the poll on tired, sequestered legislators meeting in closed-door rooms under intense pressure from the Governor and the Vikings is easy to imagine:

A Plurality Supports the Stadium! Quick! Let’s pass it, Oscar, and get the hell out of Dodge!

(Click here for a link to the Channel 5 poll story)

Are the Twin Cities media that stupid, lazy, incompetent? Or just plain deceitful?

You tell me.

This is just one part of the story I am working on about the collapse of Minnesota Media and its inability to cover the Vikings stadium story with any journalistic integrity. It could be a book.

Maybe you agree with me that the media aided and abetted the worst Legislative/political sell-out in 40 years. Maybe you don’t. But if you do, please add to this discussion by commenting here on the stadium and the media. I believe this is a textbook case of media failure. And I would like to get the conversation going.

Please return here in the next day or so to see what we can come up with.


Nick Coleman

Previous posts in “STATE of CORRUPTION:”

How the Stadium Deal Went Down, and Took Open Government With It

A “People’s Stadium” For Zygi