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Local Twitter Man Aaron Rupar: Beacon for ‘The Truth’ or ‘Threat to the Free Press’?

Plus council might cave to Uber/Lyft, Choo Choo news, and sponsoring a YouTube fishing show in today's Flyover news roundup.

Twitter, obviously.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of important, overlooked, and/or interesting Minnesota news stories.

Rupar vs. Grim

If you’ve ever read a quick news piece on Trump via Huffington Post, BuzzFeed News, Vanity Fair, or CNN, you’ve probably seen a tweet embedded from former City Pages news blogger Aaron Rupar. His tweets, usually blasting the latest foibles of Donald Trump, are so ubiquitous that when he was temporarily banned from Elon Musk's platform a couple years ago, it was covered by multiple news sources—including Viraluae!

But how much influence does a video aggregator/Trump speech summarizer like Rupar have? That’s the big question explored in a recent piece by David Weigel for Semafor. Turns out the Biden administrator is well aware of his reach, and has invited him, along with similar Biden-boosting posters, to discuss strategy and even preview upcoming presidential speeches. “Aaron... [is] on the front lines of making sure the American people know the truth of what is at stake,” according to White House strategist Anita Dunn.  

Even though Rupar does the kind of work most reporters dread (“Every morning, I get up and I rip through the Maria Bartiromo show… I rip through Fox and Friends. I rip through the Newsmax morning show,” he tells Weigel), not everyone is on board with his journalistic approach. Ryan Grim, D.C. bureau chief at The Intercept, for example, argues that Rupar's actions are a "threat to the free press," calling him a "partisan hack" and arguing that his distracting viral tweets make people like him “Trump’s most valuable weapons." Rupar and Grim, both of whom were quoted by Weigel, have predictably taken their beef to Twitter.

Uber Update: Still Flouncing

What’s the biggest news story in town this week? Minneapolis’s minimum wage rideshare shitstorm. The latest drama? Uber has sent notifications to its drivers that its service center at Lyndale & 60th in Richfield will be closing on April 15. Workers use the station to file documents, ask questions from real people, and have their vehicles inspected. Meanwhile, the Minneapolis City Council continues to play chicken with Lyft/Uber, though its members are starting to show signs they'll swerve first; Council Member Andrea Jenkins issued a statement Wednesday that she has "officially noticed her intent to reconsider the ordinance." That means, amid a biz-friendly bill from GOP House reps, pleas from Gov. Tim Walz, and increasingly annoyed statements from Mayor Jacob Frey, the City Council could overturn its decision sometime by mid-April. 

Beloved Toy Train Shop is Moving to Train Station

Is this the most fitting relocation possible? Train-centric toy shop Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store is chugging its way over to St. Paul’s historic train depot and is set to open May 3. “This beloved interactive train store will arrive with train-themed events, play areas, and an engine-full of toys and gifts for all ages,” The Depot announced via Facebook

This is great news for kids going through their “vehicles are coooool!” phase as well as adults who love a good miniature display. When Bob’s closed in 2020, many assumed that it would become another pandemic casualty. But in late 2022, the train shop popped up at the Shops at West End in St. Louis Park. Since opening in 2005, Bob’s has offered interactive play stations for kids and was the filming location for the award-winning The Choo Choo Bob Show. Viraluae's Jay Boller reports that his youngest nephews are "massive" Choo Choo Bob fans.  

We Bought Some Bleachers

When Nate Pischke from SHORELUNCH with Nate P. sent us an email asking if we’d like to sponsor a live taping of his delightful fishing/cooking YouTube show, we replied “sure!” When he asked for precisely $240.98, we were especially intrigued. Turns out that was the exact amount needed to rent some bleachers for the “studio” audience, from which we hung our well-traveled vinyl Viraluae banners. Hey, we can't afford an ad splashed across Target Center like some publications. You can watch the episode, where Pischke makes chili and throws raw meat into the hungry audience, below.

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