Owatonna People's Press Blasts Jeff Johnson Over Misquote Controversy

Johnson is taking heat for saying a paper acknowledged misquoting him when, in fact, it never did.

Johnson is taking heat for saying a paper acknowledged misquoting him when, in fact, it never did.

Years ago, yours truly interviewed Amy Klobuchar while she was touring a business in Faribault, Minnesota. As soon as I approached the senator to ask a couple questions, one of her aides swooped in with a tape recorder, presumably to ensure I didn't end up misquoting anything she said. I can't think of another time that's happened before or since.

Of course, it's understandable that big-time politicians are concerned about media members getting their comments right. But in an editorial, Jeffrey Jackson, managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press, blasts MNGOP gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson for saying that the paper misquoted his running mate, Bill Kuisle. According to Jackson, he has the tape to prove they actually got it right.

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During a campaign stop last week in rural Eldred, Minnesota, Johnson was asked about a comment Kuisle made to a People's Press reporter back in July. Regarding a section of northern Minnesota's Highway 2, Kuisle said, "It's a four-lane highway across the northern part of the state, and it should be a two-lane." He suggested the highway was only expanded because of former congressman Jim Oberstar's ability to bring home the government pork, so to speak.

That comment rankled some who live near the highway, and when Johnson was asked about it, he threw the People's Press under the bus.

"The newspaper actually acknowledged they misquoted him," Johnson told his listeners in Eldred.

After catching wind of Johnson's comment, Jackson fired back.

"[W]e have consistently stood by the story and made neither a retraction nor a correction to the story because that's exactly what Mr. Kuisle said," Jackson writes in his editorial, citing an audio recording of the interview made by reporter Matt Hudson. "We repeat: We did not misquote him and never acknowledged that we did. And our attempts this week to set the record straight by calling the Johnson camp went unheeded. We still haven't heard back."

"Here's a thought for anyone running for office: When you misspeak -- and you're going to misspeak because you're only human and humans misspeak from time to time -- acknowledge the mistake and move on," Jackson concludes. "Don't blame the messenger just because he's repeated your message."

We reached out to the Johnson campaign for comment this morning, but haven't heard back as this is published. We'll update if we do.

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.