Ben Swann had the distinct privilege of speaking before a group of liberty activists in Minnesota a little over a week ago. Liberty Minnesota graciously extended the opportunity for him to bring the "Liberty is Rising, Truth in Media" tour to the campus of the University of Minnesota on Friday, September 13.  Liberty Minnesota billed the event as:

"A kick-off of Liberty Minnesota's Free Communities Project and featured local mayors, city council members, movie directors, and award winning journalist Ben Swann who talked about his new Truth in Media project."

Within days after the event, a reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune published an article that was a thinly veiled attempt to smear Republican candidates who were in attendance. The reporter Rachel E. Stassen-Berger begins the article by insinuating that Swann is a conspiracy theorist and "9/11 truther" and then goes on to criticize Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson as well as Republican candidates, Phil Krinkie, and David Gerson for having a presence at the event to engage potential voters.

Interestingly, Stassen-Berger does not mention Paula Overby, Democratic Farm Labor candidate for Congress, was also present at the event. Overby was the only candidate not mentioned in the article, one can only assume, because of her political affiliation.

The Star Tribune article, titled "Ben Swann's controversial 'truth' event attracts controversy — and campaign" goes on to quote the group "Alliance for a Better Minnesota." Alliance is only identified as a group that campaigns against Republicans.

"Minnesotans deserve an apology and an explanation from this man (Jeff Johnson) who wants to lead our state," said Alliance executive director Carrie Lucking.

What the reporter, Stassen-Berger does not disclose to readers is that while "Alliance for a  Better Minnesota" is demanding an apology from Jeff Johnson who is running for Governor, the organization is funded by the family of the current governor.

According to Fact Check.org "Alliance for a Better Minnesota" is not only a progressive organization, it receives its primary funding from labor unions AND the family of current Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton." Had the reporter disclosed this very important fact, the story would have no longer been "concerned citizens standing up to 9/11 truthers" and instead would have been the much less interesting "political group uses smear to attack opponent."

Ben-Swann-on-investigative-journalismFor the reporter to not disclose this while attempting to connect Jeff Johnson to the "truther" movement is, at the very least, amateurish reporting, and at worst an unethical betrayal of her title as a journalist.

In addition, the reporter was provided with Ben Swann's personal cell phone number before the article was released. Liberty Minnesota offered the number so that Stassen-Berger could talk with Swann herself, but she never called to ask him about the "conspiracy theories" he is accused of "breathing life into."

Furthermore, the article does not once discuss the merit or content of the 9/11 report by Swann. For those who have watched the report, the piece itself never makes a single claim about who was behind 9/11 but rather discusses a global campaign called "Rethink 9/11."

It is important to note that Rachel Stassen-Berger was not in attendance for the "Truth in Media" event. Again, this is not disclosed to readers.  Every bit of information about the event, the speakers and those in attendance was second hand information.

A similar story to the Star Tribune's piece was also released in a smaller Minneapolis newspaper, City Pages. The City Pages article was even less honest than the Star Tribune's piece, with Liberty Minnesota not even reached for comment. Interestingly, while the City Pages story smears the Truth in Media event over the 9/11 controversy, City Pages itself sold a full page color ad on the back page of their paper promoting the Rethink 9/11 campaign on the week of 9/11.

Ironically, this entire subject is what the Truth in Media event was all about, the left/right paradigm in media. A paradigm that has discredited broadcast and print media because of journalists who attempt to shill for one political party or another.  The articles in the Star Tribune and City Pages do EXACTLY what Swann is critical of. Reporters who begin with the conclusion and work their way backward to create a story.

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