"Real Salt Lake's move to control how The Tribune covers the team by denying news media access to one of our sports columnists is unacceptable," Tribune editor Terry Orme said. "RSL management and ownership does not get to pick and choose reporters.
"Because they have excluded a Tribune staffer from game coverage, for the time being we will cover the team without the media credentials provided by RSL," he added.
RSL chief business officer Andrew Carroll informed The Tribune on Friday that RSL was denying Monson access to cover the contest and future home games, citing continued unhappiness with the writer over a pair of columns he wrote last season that were critical of RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen.
Monson was issued a season credential by RSL to cover the team this season. He attended the team's 2016 home opener and wrote a column off it. Carroll said Monson should not have been credentialed for that game either, citing an "internal" mistake in the credentialing process.
Carroll said RSL was not trying to dictate how the newspaper covers the team.
"We are not trying to control the message, we are not telling anyone what to write or not to write, but are simply choosing in this isolated case to not invite someone, who we feel is unfair and biased and who possess a conflict of interest into our house," he said in a statement.
Carroll claims Monson has a conflict of interest because he co-hosts an afternoon sports talk radio show on 1280 The Zone with Spence Checketts, who is the son of former RSL owner David Checketts.
Orme said he has discussed the conflict claim with Monson, and is confident Monson's radio work poses no conflict of interest with covering RSL for The Tribune. He added that RSL officials fundamentally misunderstand what Monson's job is as a Tribune columnist.
"Gordon Monson has been in the profession for 37 years. Yes, his columns often are provocative. Yes, he can be hard on his subjects. That's his job. That's what columnists do. It's what readers expect, and what his editors expect," Orme said.
"This is the first time someone has denied Monson access to cover an event," he added. "Scrutiny from a sports columnist should not be new or surprising to RSL management. They are a major league franchise. It comes with the territory. Their reaction is petty, and out of character for a professional sports organization. It is, in a word, an overreaction."
Dan Courtemanche, Major League Soccer's vice president for communications, said the league is aware of the situation.
"Major League Soccer takes media access seriously," he said. "We are certainly looking into the matter. We've discussed it with the club and The Salt Lake Tribune. We will have more to say in the coming days."
RSL plays two more home games in the upcoming week, on Tuesday against Inter Milan in a friendly and Friday against San Jose in an MLS match.