Jim Souhan, Star Tribune columnist, savaged for "lazy journalism" in Star Tribune op/ed
Wednesday, in a column entitled "No point in dumbing down stadium issue," Star Tribune sports columnist Jim Souhan blasted Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, for his line of questioning during the House Government Operations and Elections Committee's stadium discussion earlier this week.
Souhan quoted Urdahl as posing the following question to Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley during the hearing: "Why should the state of Minnesota contribute to a stadium for a billionaire owner?" Souhan criticizes Urdahl for pandering and characterizes his question to Bagley as revealing that "some of our elected officials are no smarter than the guy who writes in the comments section of an online newspaper, 'your stupid.'"
But there were a couple glaring problems with Souhan's pro-stadium column. One, Urdahl actually voted in support of the stadium bill, a fact totally neglected in Souhan's column. And two, Souhan took Urhahl's quote out of context. So today, the Star Tribune ran an op/ed penned by Urdahl that blasts Souhan for "lazy journalism."
First, for context, here are some of the choicest nuggets from Souhan's column, which is intended as a plea to elevate the stadium discussion above questions that pander to ignoramuses:
Politicians like Urdahl are counting on you being as shallow as they are.
Urdahl ignored all of the legitimate concerns about building a stadium for the Vikings, all of the complications that accompany the serpentine negotiations that result in any public-private partnership, and reduced the dialogue to something you might hear from a drunk at closing time...
Urdahl should recognize that he has marked himself as a Republican who is trying to kill a jobs and economic stimulus project...
I can respectfully disagree with politicians who take consistent, principled, stands against stadiums. Those like Urdahl who shamelessly pander to the simple-minded people should not be taken seriously.
Next time you ask a question about the stadium, Mr. Urdahl, please get help from someone with a better grasp of stadium politics, like, oh, a Kardashian.
Urdahl's response -- entitled, simply, "Souhan was wrong" -- criticizes Souhan for "neither [attending] the meeting about which he wrote, nor [listening] to the audio from it, nor [reviewing] the transcript before penning his column. He also did not contact me before taking great leaps in asserting what my thought process was." Urdahl characterizes Souhan's column as being based on "a false premise and filled with ignorance and distortion."
Urdahl: "An opinion is not a license to tell half a story."
As for the "Why should the state of Minnesota contribute to a stadium for a billionaire owner?" quote, Urdahl clarifies that he prefaced the question with: "Mr. Bagley, just a question that is frequently out there -- you may as well answer it for record." Urdahl says he "considered what my constituents would want to ask if they were in my place and decided to pose a question I receive time and time again in my district."
If Souhan knew the contents of the discussion, his column contained outright lies. If he did not know the contents of our discussion, he failed at his job. I prefer to credit him with laziness rather than dishonesty.
Newspaper veteran and media blogger David Brauer, who wrote a column on the Souhan-Urdahl fiasco earlier this week for MinnPost, tweeted after Urdahl's column was published that he's "not sure I've ever seen a paper hang a staffer's work habits out to dry like that, even in [an] op/ed."
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