Michael Brodkorb (minnesota.publicradio.org).
by Steve Timmer
Sep 22, 2016, 11:00 AM

Brian, is there lint in that media navel?

Brian Lambert wrote a MinnPost piece about the harassment restraining order suit brought by Sandra Grazzini-Rucki against Michael Brodkorb. It’s a navel-gazing exercise entitled, How should the media react to Grazzini-­Rucki’s harassment accusations against Brodkorb? Here’s one especially introspective graf:

The circus aspect of the case aside, the episode highlights a question asked more and more frequently as the business of news gathering fragments away from just a few major institutions and into the hands of activist citizens, people with more time and interest in a given story than traditional news organizations. Specifically, if Michael Brodkorb was practicing journalism by reporting steadily on the Grazzini-Rucki matter, is he then in effect a journalist entitled to First Amendment protections and collegial support afforded normal reporters? And if so, why haven’t more journalists come to his defense in the wake of the restraining order, which among other things, he says, has left him confined to Dakota County this past week and taking calls from police for things he’s written since the order went out?

First of all, Earth to Brian, you don’t have to be a “journalist” to be entitled to First Amendment protections.

New York Times v. Sullivan and every other important First Amendment press case I can think of also applies to individuals and non-traditional news and opinion institutions, as well. Calling Michael only “in effect a journalist,” and not a “normal reporter” for the purpose of deciding how to treat him just bespeaks a snotty guild hall mentality.

You want facts, Brian? Here are the facts:

Michael persistently interviewed a key person of interest in the case, Dale Nathan, and Nathan told Michael Brodkorb — nobody else — that he, Nathan, possessed information about the whereabouts of the two missing Rucki girls and the persons who had helped spirit them off and hide them. It broke the case.

Nathan didn’t disclose this information to a deposing attorney, law enforcement, or other “normal reporters,” either.

Let me lay it out for you Brian, and all the other “journalists” and “regular reporters” out there, some of whom were quoted in Lambert’s story: Michael’s a journalist, all right, a good investigative journalist, better than most; he cracked a case that brought two minors home to their family.

It was one of the best pieces of persistent, dogged even, public interest journalism I’ve seen.

And as Walter Cronkite would say: That’s the way it is.

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