...busting up my brains for the words

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Dan Cohen tells all

I've been active in local politics since I realized that it was imperative that George W. Bush be reelected as our president. And let me tell you, I've been getting an education. As the saying goes, the more I learn, the more I discover how little I know.
In my BPOU (Basic Political Operating Unit) I became aware of a very headstrong man who is about ten years my senior who is very opinionated and commands the floor when he wants to command the floor. I didn't know him from Adam and I eventually discovered his name is Dan Cohen.
On the day of my BPOU convention Dan gave me a copy of his new book. He told me it would be published soon. If all is going according to schedule that day is tomorrow, April 20th. The book is called Anonymous Source; At War Against the Media, A true story and it's available online here.

This book was, as I say, an education for me. I quickly learned that Dan is practically a household name around these parts. Just about everyone who has dipped their fingers into the local political stew knows his story and his case. This book quickly got me up to speed.
In a nutshell, it goes like this; Dan was working for a local Republican gubernatorial candidate when it came to be known to the campaign leadership that the Democratic opposition candidate had a black spot on her record that was unknown. Dan took that information to the local newspapers with the info on condition of anonymity. The papers accepted the terms and then proceeded to break their promise. Dan's name was publicized and he was lambasted as a "dirty trickster". Dan sued the papers and won. Then the papers appealed and chopped down Dan's winnings.

I don't know much, if anything, about lawyers or court proceedings. This book dispels a lot of the myths and reports courtroom procedures and tactics that were very new to me. Once I got into this book, I got curious about what kind of profile the Cohen vs. Cowles case has nationwide. So I Googled it. The array of links tells me that this case had some very real weight in the subject of media ethics.

I am not giving anything away when I report here that Dan's final paragraph in his book reads thus;
"Let me close by apologizing to Marlene Johnson. Providing that stale, trivial record to the press was stupid and mean-spirited. I regret what I did."

It takes a big man to admit he was wrong. I give him a heck of a lot of credit for writing those words. But so far as I am aware, the local newspapers have not taken anything close to the same step. The Star Tribune has never admitted they were wrong to violate their promise to Dan Cohen, despite their losing in court over this case.

Dan has paid his dues. He's collected his small award in the legal case, but he's paid a higher price personally and professionally for its consequences.

The StarTribune, in their arrogance, is only just now beginning to see the light of day in a new era. They don't own this town anymore. And their deceits and distortions have consequences upon their influence and circulation.


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