Minneapolis Paper Under Fire for Printing GOP House Candidate's Expunged Arrest Record

Ted Kennedy can get away with leaving a campaign staffer to die in his car in the eyes of the media, but apparently a disputed and expunged arrest record of a Republican congressional candidate is worth blasting to the public. At least according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Scott Johnson at Power Line has the details:

I find Sunday's Star Tribune story by Paul McEnroe and Rochelle Olson on the expunged 1995 arrest of Republican Fifth District congressional candidate Alan Fine to be reprehensible. We posted the rationale offered by Star Tribune "reader's representative" Kate Parry for the Star Tribune's publication of the story here. Parry conteded that the story had "news value" because "Fine was arrested by the police, charged with domestic assault and spent a few hours in jail" and that "the allegations raised in the court documents were corroborated by the ex-wife in interviews with Star Tribune reporters." Parry did not mention or comment on the expungement of the arrest.

At the Star Tribune's online site, editor Anders Gyllenhaal has also offered his rationale for the publication of the story. Anyone who suspects that the Star Tribune offices are something of an echo chamber won't be disabused of the notion by Gyllenhaal's comments:

Several elements contributed to the decision to run the story: The officers who answered the domestic call decided to pursue the arrest and sent Fine to jail; the candidate’s former wife told reporters last week that the assault occurred even though she ended up withdrawing the charge; Fine’s former father-in-law, a local judge, backed up his daughter and said he’d been told of other instances of domestic abuse.
Gyllenhaal concludes by asserting that Fine's 1995 arrest and domestic dispute is part of its "full portrait" of Fine. Like Parry, Gyllenhaal omits any mention of the fact that Fine's arrest was expunged and, like McEnroe and Olson, Gyllenhaal fails to reveal whether the Star Tribune's source for the document obtained or released it legally to the Star Tribune.

It is difficult to overstate the vacuity of Parry's and Gyllenhaal's comments. Alan Fine was arrested in 1995 based on his wife's charge. His wife repeated the charge in 2006. Also in 2006, the ex-wife's father "backed up his daughter" -- i.e., repeats what his daughter allegedly told him in 1995. Despite all the huffing and puffing, the Star Tribune's story rests on the word of Alan Fine's wife.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013