Univ. of Minnesota Newspaper Makes Excuses for Al Franken After He Declines Campus Debate

Imagine the student association at your university wages a Twitter campaign to get the two candidates for the U.S. Senate seat to agree to a debate on campus. The challenger agrees but the incumbent senator declines.. Disappointing? Yes. But guess who the student newspaper on that campus lavishes praise upon? The candidate who declined to debate.

How does that happen? When the incumbent senator who declined the debate has the magic "D" next to his name as happened in Minnesota when Al Franken declined the invitation of the student government to debate his opponent. The student newspaper, the Minnesota Daily, after registering a barely perceptible bit of disappointment in Franken for declining to debate then went on to heap praise upon his overall record. Oh, and for his opponent who actually did agree to debate? Not a word of praise.

A U.S. senator and candidate in November’s election refused an invitation last week to debate at the University of Minnesota despite a heavy push on social media, prompting student leaders to question how candidates prioritize college-age voters on their campaign trails.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., denied the request from members of the Minnesota Student Association. Although student leaders expressed dismay, experts say debates aren’t the best route for politicians to sway voters.

Larry Jacobs, a political science professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said debates are often less effective than other person-to-person types of voter outreach, like canvassing neighborhoods or holding registration drives.

Yeah, there's an obviously unbiased source to quote over the fact that Franken refused to agree to debate on campus. A political science professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Funny how debates are suddenly relatively unimportant when the candidate refusing to participate is a Democrat.

Here is some of the disappointment felt over Franken's debate rejection. But not to worry, the pain is quickly soothed over by some good ol' Franken praise:

Before Franken denied the request to debate on campus last week, MSA spearheaded a Twitter campaign designed to convince the candidates to attend. Students and other members of the University community published dozens of tweets last month to further the cause.

University President Eric Kaler joined in by authoring a tweet Aug. 15.

“We’re incredibly disappointed that Sen. Franken turned us down,” MSA President Joelle Stangler said. Officials from McFadden’s campaign told MSA they would participate in the debate, MSA communications director Drew Coveyou said.

Officials from McFadden’s campaign told MSA they would participate in the debate, MSA communications director Drew Coveyou said.

This is where writer John Thomas enhances his résumé when applying to become a member of the Mainstream Media by quickly switching gears to end the story with praise of Franken who rejected participating in the debate and no word about McFadden who accepted:

Despite the dropped event, Franken’s campaign said he has made students a priority in other ways during his time in office.

For example, last year, Franken co-sponsored a bill that would help lower the cost of college textbooks.

“Senator Franken…is working hard to help lower the cost of college for all Minnesotans,” Alexandra Fetissoff, a Franken campaign spokeswoman, wrote in an email. “He believes in debates and will participate in a total of four debates this election, as his first goal is to communicate with Minnesota voters.”

It takes skill to turn a story about disappointment in Franken's refusal to debate into what reads like a Franken campaign mailer. Good work, Mr. Thomas.

P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog.