Opponents of political candidates regularly follow them around the state, videotaping their every appearance and word. The flap over Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer’s comments about the minimum wage in the state is exactly why.
As I posted on 5×8 this morning, Emmer uploaded a video about his three hours as a waiter at a restaurant in Roseville, prefacing it with criticism of reporters — including MPR’s Marty Moylan — and their coverage of his July 5th appearance at a St. Paul restaurant.
“There are a lot of people who’ve been misled by the less-than-forthright mainstream media here in the Twin Cities when the other day I talked with a couple of restaurant owners in downtown St. Paul who told me that, you know, they needed some help, government’s not helping much,” Emmer said. “They talked about how much their servers get. It’s all on tape. And all I did is respond to them when they said, ‘if it was offered would you advocate for a tip credit?’ I said, ‘yes.’ But then the next question was not publicized very well. The next question was, ‘Tom, so you’re saying you’d reduce the minimum wage,’ and my answer was, ‘that would be foolish. Absolutely not. We’re not talking about reducing anyone’s wages, we’re talking about making sure everyone could be successful…”
Today, the DFL further cashed in on the controversy, uploading its video of the event. Here’s part one:
Here’s part two:
Emmer’s recollection of the questions and his answers is cloudy. Emmer was asked whether waiters making $100,000 a year with tips was simply the free market at work? “Yes, if it wasn’t for the minimum wage law,” he replied. Is that saying he’d like to get rid of the minimum wage law? He didn’t appear to say “that would be foolish.” He said, “I don’t know that you can do that…that’s why it’s more in line with a tip credit.” The reporters didn’t raise the issue of a tip credit; Emmer did.
However, he also seemed to suggest repealing the minimum wage in the state isn’t an option when he said, “Plus… you’ve got a federal law as well.”
But isn’t a “tip credit” a cut in the minimum wage? When Moylan asked “how would that work?”, Emmer replied, “well, we’ll talk about that.” That question was a forthright attempt to accurately report Emmer’s proposal. The problem is: Emmer didn’t really have a proposal. When Moylan said, “I didn’t hear any specifics, there,” Emmer replied, “You did. You absolutely did.”
Who else didn’t report the issue the way Tom Emmer says he would’ve liked? Tom Emmer’s campaign. Here’s the video the campaign posted of the event:
There, obviously, is nothing there about Emmer stressing he’s not trying to reduce anyone’s wages, nothing about the idea of reducing the minimum wage being “foolish” and nothing that includes the words “absolutely not.”
So basically, Emmer’s criticism of the media centers around its refusal to accurately report a quote he didn’t make.
Still, both sides, have some room for deniability in the parsing of Emmer’s exact words, which is an entirely different — and more illustrative — issue that sprouts from the plethora of candidates in Minnesota making campaign appearances without specific proposals for solutions.
That’s not the media’s fault.