St. Paul Pioneer Press editor explains controversial marriage amendment editorial

A Pioneer Press reporter’s tweet:


The Pioneer Press marriage amendment editorial that prompted Vikings punter Chris Kluwe to quit blogging for the paper — and moved reporter Tom Webb to tweet the message above — “failed to deliver what we had meant to,” writes editor Mike Burbach, who is responsible for the paper’s opinions and news coverage.

“The piece was widely read as favoring the amendment [that would ban gay marriage in Minnesota], and many people considered our ‘not endorsing one way or another’ line to be disingenuous at best.” He adds that “we should have made our respect for the anti-amendment arguments more evident.”

Chris Kluwe

I’ve left a message for Burbach [he’s responded; see below]. Webb hasn’t responded to an email I sent him on Sunday. (By the way, the PiPress managing editor tweeted on Sunday that Webb will not “face judgment or sanction for the sentiment he shared earlier.”

The St. Paul paper today publishes Kluwe’s final “Out of Bounds” blog post, in which he calls Burbach’s editorial “a severely biased piece urging the adoption of the amendment, a piece that did its best to hide under the purported shroud of neutrality, but which let its glaring support ooze through in every twisted phrase and slimy sentence.”

To be clear, I have no problem with the editorial board urging people to vote yes. That is their decision to make, their opinion to have, and no one can (nor should) take that away. My problem is the attempted masking of that opinion, of disguising their intent – in short, my problem is with lying.

UPDATE: Editor Burbach tells me that negative reaction to the editorial “has been mostly on social media” and “there weren’t many calls and only a few emails.” He didn’t anticipate Kluwe’s resignation over the editorial, but “we were interested in his stuff because he’s a smart and interesting and outspoken guy, so I guess I wouldn’t expect him to not be that way on this” matter.

Burbach says he expects to speak with Kluwe, but doubts the Vikings punter can be convinced to once again blog for the paper. (His farewell post went up this morning.)

About his reporter’s tweet: “I think Tom’s tweet represents the [newsroom’s] view pretty well. …that this [editorial] didn’t meet our standards.” (Burbach tells me there hasn’t been a newsroom petition or staff letter sent to him about the editorial.)

About subscription cancellations: “So far not much. Almost nothing over the weekend, but there are some.”

* Regarding our editorial on Minnesota’s marriage amendment | The editorial (twincities.com)
* Chris Kluwe: Why I can no longer write for the Pioneer Press (twincities.com)
* Marriage amendment editorial draws swift, harsh reaction online (twincities.com)
* National attention for Kluwe’s split from the Pioneer Press (minnpost.com)
* Kluwe’s tweets on the matter | PiPress managing editor’s tweets

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