While much is being made nationally of an abbreviated clip of KEYC-TV coverage of an ag-related meeting featuring Senator Amy Klobuchar, CD7 Representative Collin Peterson and CD Tim Walz earlier this month in North Mankato, local venues tell a somewhat different story.
On Friday, the CBS/FOX affiliate posted Citing Fairness, KEYC News 12 Issues Clarification of National Media Reports:
Thursday night, a national television news organization showed a clip from one of our stories that aired on KEYC News 12 Wednesday night. That story was mostly about Wednesday afternoon's Southern Minnesota Ag Symposium; but it was a question in the forum at the end that got the most attention. That question was about a purported $2,500 savings for families because of the Affordable Care Act, known by many as ObamaCare.
Anyone in attendance, or watching the news story on our air or website, knows that a certain amount of laughter came first from the audience, then the three panel members - Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Collin Peterson, and Rep. Tim Walz. That laughter became a bit more animated when Rep. Peterson quipped that he voted 'no,' so he was going to let the other two answer the question.
Thursday evening, national media outlets began running the story. However, they showed only a short clip from that exchange. The story accused all three panel members of laughing at someone else's suffering. It also accused all three panel members of ducking the question. Anyone in attendance that day, or watching the story in its entirety that evening, knows that nothing could be further from the truth.
This is not a Democrat issue. This is not a Republican issue. This is a truth and fairness issue. We believe our story has been taken out of context to unfairly characterize that day's conversation; and unfairly characterize Sen. Klobuchar, Rep. Peterson, and Rep. Walz.
- Dan Ruiter, News Director
Readers can view the entire clip and the original news story, MN Lawmakers Talk Farm Bill, ACA at Ag Symposium, to check it out for themselves. Certainly, the closing paragraphs of the text suggest that Ruiter's explanation is accurate:
The question: "I thought the Affordable Care Act would save $2500 per family. What happened?"
After Sen. Klobuchar and Rep. Walz looked at each other, laughter broke out in the room.
Rep. Peterson quickly picked up the microphone to say, "I voted 'no', so I'll let these guys handle that," to the applause of the crowd.
Both Klobuchar and Walz said they were aware of the problems, and wanted to find ways to fix it.
Walz says, "This health discussion has got to be broader, it's got to point out where there are weaknesses and failures, it's got to make sure we're not leaving people behind or distorting the system. But don't pretend there was some type of safe harbor before this where everything was just peachy keen."
Walz's answer isn't dismissive of the question, and the audience members laugh first.
Award-winning journalist Josh Moniz takes up the story about the story in Reporter's notebook: Ag gathering laugh draws attention:
It's the laugh heard around the world. During the Ag Symposium Wednesday at South Central College, Congressmen Tim Walz, Collin Peterson and Sen. Amy Klobuchar were asked a question about the implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act.
“I thought the Affordable Care Act would save $2,500 per family. What happened?” asked an audience member.
Peterson quipped: “I voted ‘no,’ so I’ll let these guys handle that.”
Peterson's comments were met with laughter from the packed crowd of area farmers and from the Democratic lawmakers. Walz and Klobuchar subsequently gave their responses to the question.
“This health discussion has got to be broader, it’s got to point out where there are weaknesses and failures, it’s got to make sure we’re not leaving people behind or distorting the system,” Walz said at the event. “But don’t pretend there was some type of safe harbor before this where everything was just peachy keen.”
There was no immediate criticism or complaint reported about the incident from the audience.
However, state Republican lawmakers and activists quickly seized on a video clip shot by television station KEYC to criticize the lawmakers. Republican activists characterized the lawmakers as laughing about the problems with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and at the question, instead of at Peterson's comments. The video quickly surged through state and national conservative websites. The criticism overlapped with the messages being pushed by national Republican organizations, such as the National Republic Congressional Committee. . . .
The speed and scope of the video's spread has been a surprise, but it clarified something that has been brewing since last year: The debate over the Affordable Care Act appears that to be position to be the marquee issue to dominate campaigns during this year's elections, possibly even more extensively than during the law's controversial passage.
And there's this:
Walz spokesman Tony Ufkin said the characterization that Walz laughed at the problems with the law was unfair and completely inaccurate.
"The KEYC clarification speaks for itself. The Congressman always shows concern for constituents and answers their questions, as he did in this case. He also met with the individual after the event to offer his assistance. . . .
Republicans and the NRCC aren't the only ones to shorten a video clip in order to spin the excerpt as something it's not. A classic example in Minnesota state-level politics occurred in 2012, when the Minnesota DFL House caucus campaign released a clip of Representative Mary Franson speaking at a Tea Party rally, supposedly repeating the "joke" comparing feeding people on SNAP to feeding wild animals.
In reality, Franson repeated the material as part of a much longer discussion of how attacks on her spiraled out of control even after she issued an apology.
When partisan committees and organizations send Bluestem video clips and excerpts from writings, we always try to locate or request the original unedited video or document. While we lean left, we also try to lean fair, and common humanity suggests that Representative Franson, Senator Klobuchar and the Congressmen are treated equally. Bluestem strives to never post anything that we know to be untrue.
Photo: Klobuchar, Peterson and Walz at the ag forum in North Mankato, via KEYC-TV.
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