At a time when people across the country are tightening their belts, scrimping to get by and saving every dollar they can, the Star Tribune owes its readers something with more insight than the salacious article on its front page Saturday.

The article, titled "Norm Coleman: 1 house, 14 years, 12 debt terms," is a new low for a paper that has apparently concluded that innuendo, titillation, unsubstantiated rumor and hearsay now pass for news and substance.

It seems relatively mundane news that anyone in America refinanced their homes during the past decade, particularly during the days of skyrocketing home values.

Norm Coleman's not a millionaire and he's never lived like one. It is true that he refinanced his house to pay for his children's education, to remodel his house, to pay bills, to have a few extra bucks for some new furniture, to make his lawn look better and just to make ends meet.

It's also true that he, like many Minnesotans, holds his home as the most substantial piece of his economic net worth.

So perhaps it is just inconceivable to the Star Tribune that a middle-class Minnesotan could actually serve in the U.S. Senate and have to struggle to make ends meet, just like the rest of middle-class Minnesotans. Or that a husband and wife would decide that both of them would have to work in order to make ends meet and to have a couple of dollars left over.

It's ironic that the Star Tribune has apparently decided that Al Franken's nonpayment of taxes in more than 18 states -- and other allegations about his business practices -- are of limited or no news value. But the Star Tribune can find room on its valuable front page to post the history of Norm Coleman's home refinancing and package it as something that is suspicious?

The Star Tribune should be more than just ashamed -- it owes Norm Coleman an apology for its behavior. And it owes the people of Minnesota something more than just tabloid trash if it expects to ever be taken seriously.

Your Editorial Board may have endorsed Norm Coleman, but the news judgment of your newspaper was entirely focused on ignoring the substantive issues involving Franken's finances and opting for the rumors and innuendos against Coleman and his family.

I understand that it's far easier to report on rumors and gossip than to investigate and report hard news. But isn't that what your newspaper is supposed to do?

Ron Carey is chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota.