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Governor’s staff asks for video to be deleted

There is a hullabaloo in St. Paul this week related to a deleted video involving the first lady of Minnesota, Gwen Walz. The video involved a forum at which the first lady was present to talk about an upcoming PBS documentary about college coursework for prison inmates. The governor’s office would like to replicate the program in Minnesota.

Twin Cities Public Television moderated the forum, with its moderator asking panelists to comment on the racial aspect of incarceration, and not focus solely on education, money and geography. Members of the audience apparently wanted to have that discussion as well.

The panelists were reportedly unprepared. The video captured the ensuing awkward moments. A top aide to Gov. Tim Walz asked the next day that the video be deleted. The event’s hosts obliged.

The governor’s aide later told Minnesota Public Radio that the governor’s office regretted its role and decision to pressure the public television station. (The TV station says the political pressure did not matter in its decision-making.)

Gwen Walz says she acknowledges she is a middle-aged white woman, one she describes of having “white privilege.” She says she is learning what that is all about and would like to continue the conversation. We believe Mrs. Walz is probably the most honest person involved in this situation. She would just like to do some good.

The interfering staffers in the governor’s office acted stupidly. Twin Cities Public Television wimped out. And the forum moderator (and some audience members) clearly came in with their axes to grind. It is possible to be oversensitive, irritable and overbearing when it comes to one’s “cause.” Friendly conversations and friendly lessons go further.

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