Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Coleman Explained to Non-locals

I almost feel guilty doing yet another post about Nick Coleman. Not for Nick's sake though. He's an egotistical preener who has spent years of dishing out the same kind of criticism he now doesn't seem to enjoy taking. Deeply religious moralist that he is, he ought to understand something about reaping the whirlwind.

No, my guilt is for the poor readers who have no background on the man; readers who aren't local, or have the good taste to avoid reading Star Tribune columnists (with one important exception of course).

Surely many of you are now scratching your heads wondering why so many Minnesota bloggers cannot resist picking at the corpse of Coleman's once promising (though mostly due to nepotism) career.

And so I feel some sort of explanation is required, so here it is: he amuses us.

Too brief? Well then...

For right-leaning Minnesota bloggers, in Nick Coleman it's like we have our own local parody of almost every stereotype of a lefty journalist. He absurdly denies that he is partisan. He writes in trite formulas. He's lazy in his research. He preens about his importance and integrity. He bristles at even a hint of criticism. The list could go on, but you get the idea.

This was the kind of man who made the old media so intolerable in Minnesota until the advent of the blogosphere, and now that his relevance is in decline, he has become something of an inside joke.

That being said, the funniest thing about his latest embarrassing clash with Powerline is that Powerline is a blog with national, rather than local focus. They totally ignored Coleman for years. He only caught their attention when he mentioned them in his first published screed against the blogosphere (referenced here - the original is no longer available at the Star Tribune site).

But Coleman is a lazy researcher, remember?

And it's rather apparent to those of us in the know that all the members of the Northern Alliance of Blogs got all mixed up in his head, which is a rather serious mistake. The actual coordination between those blogs is extremely loose. (For background, Northern Alliance member Mitch Berg explained a bit about the development of the Northern Alliance when I interviewed him.) They also have wildly different backgrounds, and blog styles.

The one who has really been dogging him for years wasn't Powerline, it was satirist-supreme Saint Paul, from Fraters Libertas. Now Saint Paul is a smart guy, with a kill-at-ten-paces sense of wit. But he is not an accomplished trial lawyer, nor an influential local bank VP, nor does he posess an Ivy League law degree with the associated major-league contacts, nor are there three of him. So where does the brilliant Nick decide to turn his attack? Onto guys who are all of those things, plus played a major role in taking down a CBS anchorman and a Democratic presidential candidate.

And so, rather than tangling with local satirists who simply enjoy mocking him (like Rambling Rhodes' hillarious send-up of Nick's column today or Mitch Berg's substantive rebuttal), Nick is now - totally due to his own sloppiness - finding himself in a whole different kind of mess. Powerline's Scott Johnson today reports how he has escalated the matter to the Star Trib's senior editors, and "reader representative." A partial list of Johnson's appeal

Nick Coleman states or implies several facts in the referenced column that are false, and that he must have known to be false because we specifically addressed them on our site in connection with previous defamatory statements he had made. I consider his column a vicious personal attack with several maliciously false facts intended to harm me.

I will leave out of this list the degrading implications of certain of Coleman's personal references as beneath contempt, but they are indicative of the utterly malicious spirit of this column.

1. Coleman repeatedly implies that we have discussed his financial status on our site. "I keep wishing the Ivy League boys had told me I was rich before I took my first job cleaning bathrooms..." and "If I had the money they think I do, I'd put it all in [the bank that is my employer]. Then I'd pull it out." Fact: We have NEVER referred to Coleman's financial status in any manner. Period. His imputation to us of interest in his finances is false and defamatory. I want it retracted.

2. Coleman tries his hand at blogger-style fact-checking, saying I falsely claimed to be surprised by Time's naming Power Line its first ever blog of the year ("the Aw Shucks Act doesn't fly"). His reference to an online blog popularity poll does not support his imputation of dishonesty to me with respect to the Time honor; it's a non sequitur. His imputation of dishonesty to me is false and defamatory. I want it retracted.
The complaint lists five items in total, each one carefully detailed and worded.

Did I mention the lawyer thing? I did? Good. Because when a lawyer uses terms like "known to be false," "defammatory statements," and "vicious personal attack... intended to harm me," and then precedes to lay out very specific details backing up the claim, it has a whole different implication than when Frater Saint Paul says:

"Where are Nick Coleman's editors? Can't they intervene to prevent him from hurting himself or others (like the Star Tribune's reputation) again?"
And I have a sneaking suspicion that little implied threat will carry more weight with Coleman's employer than Coleman's previous implied threat to snitch on Scott Johnson for blogging at work did. From Johnson's boss:

"One thing I can assure you of is that if your columnists can suggest that people stop banking at TCF because of the political activities of one of its employees, TCF will never spend another dollar on advertising in the Star Tribune as long as I am Chairman."

Come to think of it, Nick's employer might be interested in both of those items.

Now you see why he so amuses us?

UPDATE: Tsk, tsk. It seems I have made an error, and Nick's thin skin does not tolerate such things from anyone other than himself, so I had best correct it. I linked to an Instapundit post referencing a Fraters Libertas Saint Paul post above where alleging:

"Regarding being born into privilege, Nick Coleman's father was among the most powerful men in the state, including four terms as Senate Majority Leader, from 1973 to 1981. His step mother, Deborah Howell, worked at the Minneapolis Star from 1965 to 1979, rising to the post of City Editor. In 1973, Nick was given a job as city hall reporter, for the Minneapolis Star. In 1979, Deborah Howell moved to the Pioneer Press serving as Managing Editor, then Executive Editor, until 1990. In 1986, stepson Nick was given a columnist position, at, guess what, the St. Paul Pioneer Press."
According to Jim Geraghty, who received an angry note from Nick, Nick's step-mother worked at the Minneapolis Tribune, and he worked at the Minneapolis Star. Separate newspapers at that time. However it does so happen that Nick's father was indeed Senate Majority Leader when this cub reporter was granted the prestigious City Hall beat. Did Nick's father's political power assist Coleman's hiring and advancement? I suppose the readers must decide themselves whether that is likely.

And yet, I must note another knee-slapper from Nick even in his appeal for correction. Leaving aside the fact that we're talking about a guy who used his column to mock the penis size of the Powerline guys, and then objects to being called a "nasty little man," he states:

"This passage is recklessly cut-and-pasted, verbatim, from a scurrilous blog published by anonymous character assassins."

And here Nick exposes two more hillarious details about himself.

First, as I speculated above, he clearly DID read Fraters Libertas, the source of the quote he objects to. So his confusion about Powerline being the ones who have made him the butt of so many jokes does in fact seem to have been thr result of his sloppiness, confusion, carelessness, or lying. Take your pick.

Secondly, Nick has a continuing thing about insisting bloggers are "anonymous." He takes this so far, he asserted it more than once about the Powerline guys who post their names, pictures, e-mail addresses, photographs, jobs, and phone numbers on their site. Now "Saint Paul" is certainly a bit more anonymous. But he does do a local radio show, which is regularly discussed on that blog. And on that show, he is identified by his real name, as well as his blog handle: "Brian 'Saint Paul' Ward." And on that show they have more than once invited Nick Coleman to personally appear for debate - one time at a little secret hideout known for anonymity - the Minnesota State Fair - and Coleman has repeatedly declined - often in heated fashion. "Saint Paul" is also not so anonymous that I had trouble picking him out to have a couple of beers with him, since the Fraters Libertas frequently and publicly invite other bloggers to join them every Thursday at Keegan's Irish Pub (which is about 5 minutes away from the Star Tribune building where Nick works). Yet despite Nick's deep investigative skills, he apparently still has no idea who "Saint Paul" is.

See why Nick is so fun?


Blogger Ryan said...

I loved this. Simply loved this.

11:21 PM  

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