Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Hard to Hit a Moving Target

I got into blogging to change the world.  Thus far the evidence is inconclusive as to my success.  Although today’s news makes me think I don’t need to get my aircraft carrier sized “Mission Accomplished” banner out of storage any time soon.

Breaking news from the front page of the Star Tribune:

Target Corp. has for the first time come out publicly in support of gay marriage, as a growing number of high-profile businesses take positions on the divisive issue.
Gay marriage has been a source of controversy for some of the state’s major corporate players since Target, Best Buy and 3M donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to an organization that supported Republican Tom Emmer in the 2010 Minnesota governor’s race. Emmer is a vocal opponent of gay marriage.

Target finally threw its corporate weight behind marriage equality Tuesday, with the Minneapolis-based retailer joining an amicus brief in a court case.
… [Target executive vice president Jodee Kozlak] also hinted at a degree of corporate soul-searching as gay marriage spreads. She did not mention another change: the firing of Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel, who in 2010 was criticized after Target made a $150,000 campaign contribution on behalf of an anti-gay-rights Republican, Tom Emmer.

From MinnPost:

… four years after Target Corporation backed fiercely anti-gay rights candidate Tom Emmer for Minnesota Governor, and three years after it refused to oppose Republicans’ mean-spirited ballot measure to enshrine a gay marriage ban in the Minnesota Constitution, corporate executives have apparently read rapidly changing public opinion surveys and are consequently endorsing a legal brief backing  marriage equality.

Twin Cities professional journalists, I’m not mad. I’m disappointed.
Not only did you get the facts of the story wrong, but over three years ago I gave you a detailed account of the back story of this issue and if you would have used it like you were supposed to, none of this would have happened.

Let’s go over this one more time.  First, the issue of “anti gay rights’ Tom Emmer.  In 2010, he wasn’t any more “anti-gay rights” than Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were, or Paul Wellstone was when he died, or that 44% of Minnesotans currently are.  All of the above opposed the state recognition of same sex marriage.  That’s it.  Whether you agree with it or not, it was a mainstream position then, and it is now. 
The “anti-gay” sobriquet Emmer has been given has now evolved to “fiercely anti-gay” in the press.  This is laughable.  Interviewing him on the old NARN show shortly before the 2010 election, he tried to shame me for bringing up social issues.  He begrudgingly acknowledged his support of traditional marriage, which was the position of the overwhelming majority of people in his party, but he rebuked me, saying 2010 wasn’t about social issues, it was about the economy and jobs.  That was his strategy in 2010, being a jerk to volunteer weekend radio show hosts and not prioritizing social issues like gay marriage.  (I suspect the former was the real reason he lost the election by a mere 9,000 votes).  Fierce, perhaps, but not “fiercely anti-gay”.
My words from 2011 ring all the more true now, seeing how this press formulation lives on into 2014:

You've got to love how Tom Emmer's support of traditional marriage now earns him the sobriquet "anti-gay candidate Tom Emmer". Now that he's no longer a candidate, does he get to keep the title? On Friday mornings, listen to anti-gay talk show host Tom Emmer on KTLK. On Saturday, anti-gay broomball coach Tom Emmer will attempt to lead his son's pee wee team to victory. Then Sunday anti-gay grocery shopper Tom Emmer will pick up on his family's weekly supplies.

Secondly, the controversy about Target supporting an “anti gay” candidate, another stale, half-truth fantasy that endures in the press.  The full story, as detailed on this website in 2011:

Target Corporation donated $150,000 to a group called Minnesota Forward, whose goal was to improve the environment for business in the state. Their focus was entirely economic and directed toward job creation in the private sector, which was perhaps the primary concern of voters in the recession year of 2010. The goals of Minnesota Forward were admirable, entirely reasonable, and beneficial to any business trying to operate in Minnesota. A company that employs the number of people in the state, and pays as much in taxes, as Target would be particularly disposed to supporting this organization. It would have been foolish for them not to donate to such a group. And so they did. As their spokesman articulated: 

"... the company gave $150,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to Minnesota Forward because the group's mission is to elect candidates from both parties who are focused on making "economic growth a priority."
"Target is very proud to call Minnesota home," said Michaud. "We want a business environment that allows us to be competitive, provide jobs, support our communities and deliver on our commitment to shareholders."
Ultimately, Minnesota Forward determined that Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer was most in agreement with their goals. This was not a close call. His Democrat opponent was an extreme liberal, one of the few candidates in the entire country who was calling for more income taxes and more corporate taxes, to fund even greater expansion of government during a recession and debt crisis. Emmer, on the other hand, called for cutting government expenses and not further burdening the private sector in this difficult economic environment.

To support Emmer, Minnesota Forward independently paid for a television ad.  Excerpt from the narration:

"As a legislator, Emmer voted against job-killing taxes and for reduced government spending. Now he's running for governor, working to grow jobs, getting government out of the way." 

Nothing controversial about that. Nothing controversial about Target supporting that position, especially compared to what the other side was offering.
And then the Alinsky explosion hit. The tactics utilized, and media portrayal of the "controversy", are exemplified in this headline from CBS News:
Target Boycott Movement Grows Following Donation to Support "Antigay" Candidate
The cries of outrage were sent forth, the story went national (carried by the dutiful press), and suddenly it was wrong for a business to support its own economic interest because of something to do with gayness.
It was an interesting bit of sleight of hand. In order to demonize the support of a Republican candidate for pro-business reasons, the liberal pressure groups focused on an unrelated issue, gay marriage. An issue which Tom Emmer was adamant, to a fault, about not emphasizing during his campaign. Plus, it was an issue in which Tom Emmer's position (support of the one man-one woman definition of marriage), agreed with the overwhelming majority of voters, including, for one, Barrack Obama. Yet it was characterized as somehow "hateful" and "anti-gay" and a boycott movement was launched because Target supported him (for entirely other reasons).

Do we have this straight now, Twin Cities media?  I hope so.   But I suspect that since Target is now overtly supporting a liberal agenda, and won't be donating money to anything remotely associated with Republican candidates, we won’t be hearing much about any controversy over their political activities any more.   Maybe someone can get some use out of my "mission accomplished" banner after all.