Star Tribune publishes results of offensive mental health questionnaire

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Last Thursday, we told you about the Strib's modern-day Inquisition: using Mark Dayton's disclosure of his history of depression and alcoholism as an excuse to ask every other candidate in the governor's race to reveal whether they've ever sought mental health treatment.

When David Brauer highlighted the issue on BrauBlog--which in turn was picked up by national journalism pundit Jim Romenesko--there was an outpouring of condemnation. The general consensus was that this was a cheap and lazy way to drum up scandal, and that it sent an awful message in regards to the Strib's stance on what should be private vs. public.

So you'd think the Strib would quietly spike the story. Nope. They published it today. Come along on a magical mystery tour as the Strib tries to justify an invasive questionnaire that ultimately determined exactly nothing.
How much the public needs to know about candidates' health has long been an issue. Disclosures by one candidate can pressure others to go public.
If by "pressure others to go public" you mean "inspire newspaper editors to send out questionnaires asking about treatment for mental health issues."

We're not going to go over the particulars, but suffice to say, none of the respondents copped to seeking treatment for drugs, alcohol, or depression. The Strib uses a non-response to dredge up an old DWI. That's it.

What did the Strib expect? The odds that a politician would send you something incriminating about himself or herself in response to an emailed survey are slim to none--and slim just dropped out of the race.

As for the downside: If the comments are any indication, the Strib's readership reacted with exactly the kind of disgust for the project that was shared by most of the people who heard about it last week.And it ran on page B5.


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