On Sunday morning, Sept. 4, governor candidate Dr. Scott Jensen was being interviewed on WCCO-TV by Esme Murphy, live from the Minnesota State Fair.
The tone of the interview had already been unusually confrontational, especially when compared to the cordial flavor the Sunday before when current governor Tim Walz had his turn.
Near the end, a gross breach of media ethics occurred when Jensen was cut off in mid-sentence, just as he was making the point that the media has been assisting Walz in avoiding debates during this campaign season.
Suddenly, the screen went black and the audio was gone. After a brief segue in studio, a Walz commercial was aired.
See it here
A bit later, the feed was restored. Murphy uttered an awkward apology and distanced herself from the situation. Jensen was allowed to finish his answer, and then the interview was declared over without the usual pleasantries.
We all know that technical difficulties occur during live television, but given the circumstances here, it is impossible to look at this as anything other than political censorship.
WCCO has already repeatedly shown itself in more subtle ways to favor liberal positions. Considering who was speaking, what was being said, and the format, there can be no other conclusion. This was too coincidental to be a random power surge or someone accidentally kicking a cord backstage.
No, someone on the WCCO staff with the means to do so must have hit the button to cut off the feed.
It is plausible that the Walz commercial that followed was already cued up, since his half-truth ads air at times such as this. Also, it’s normal when tv stations have trouble to “go to commercial.”
We can accept that the cut-off wasn’t pre-planned. More likely, it was a heat-of-the-moment reaction, laced with poor judgment.
Some time ago, there existed a Minnesota News Council which offered a method to deal with infractions such as this.
For those who felt aggrieved by a media action, it was a hearing format in which the issue would be evaluated, and then a panel would rule on the validity of the complaint. The participating media entity agreed to publicize the result, whether it was found to be unsubstantiated or the media was determined to be negligent.
Unfortunately, the News Council was discontinued several years ago, so citizens are now left on their own to judge which media outlets are credible or not.
I write this not so much in defense of Dr. Jensen, but on behalf of all other news media whose reputations are harmed from bad behavior such as this.
Media has no regulating authority to answer to. Trust is its only asset. The news industry as a whole is already on shaky, sinking ground. When one entity goes way out of bounds, we all are tarnished.
At minimum, WCCO needs to step up as a station to issue a formal, public apology both to Jensen and especially to the public and provide some assurance that corrective action has been taken.
Better yet, the person or persons who were involved in the feed cut-off should personally come forward to confess, apologize, and resign.
C’mon WCCO, it’s now up to you. Show us if you have any credibility and professionalism left.