Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A Blow for Blogs

You may want to just stop right here and run over to Power Line to read the whole thing, but I just want to point out this exquisite and elegant defense of Scott W. Johnson (The Big Trunk) of Power Line by his employer. Herewith an excerpt of his letter to the Star Tribune:
Bill Cooper is one of my [Scort Johnson's] heroes. He put himself through school while working as a beat cop in Detroit. He has become a recognized leader in the financial services industry. Though he defies every stereotype of Republican privilege and self-absorption, he served one critical term as chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party. He is one of the most genuinely charitable people I know, giving of both his time and his money.

In his day job he is also the chairman and chief executive officer of TCF Financial Corporation, the Minneapolis-based bank holding company for which I have the good fortune to work. Yesterday he called me to assure me that my job was not in jeopardy because of what Coleman had written. He also read me the letter that he was about to send to the publisher of the Star Tribune on a point of which we had lost sight:

While I have disagreed with the Star Tribune on many issues, I respect with all my heart your right of freedom of the press and free speech. Apparently Nick Coleman does not share these values.

To suggest that customers of TCF Bank should move their money because of a TCF employee's blogging activities (an exercise of free speech) is just wrong. To suggest that an employer of an individual who exercises free speech rights should be punished is, I am sure, a violation of journalistic ethics and perhaps a legal issue.

Just for the record, the first time I ever heard of Power Line (which I have never read) was when I read about it in Time Magazine. To suggest that TCF or I am somehow the creator or supporter of Power Line is simply not true. Incidentally, Mr. Coleman never contacted me to ask if I was behind it (another example of great journalism!).

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.

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