Sunday, December 18, 2011

Milwaukee, Madison papers cop out, and other media BS

Looks like Graeme Zielinski's callout of WTMJ being a front for WisGOP has clearly hit the mark. First, they try to bury their response in a multi-topic editorial with a headline discussing Jeff Fitzgerald's absurd plans to change an "Anti-Republican" GAB that has 5 of its 6 members be Republican. The innocence act TMJ tries to pull is eye-rolling.
Graeme Zielinski, the spokesman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, has a bulldog style that either endears or appalls. It was the latter on display Friday morning on "Wisconsin's Morning News" on WTMJ-AM (620), which is operated by a sister company of the Journal Sentinel.

In a tongue-lashing that went on for several minutes, Zielinski went after the radio station and its morning talk-show host Charlie Sykes for supporting Gov. Scott Walker.

A sample:

"People in Wisconsin are taking their state back from jokers like Charlie Sykes and you guys. People are standing up for themselves."

Sykes is a Walker supporter and certainly is fair game for criticism. But Zielinski is off base by lumping the rest of the station in with its conservative talk-show hosts.
A. A lot of us don't find Zielinski's response "appalling". We find ourselves applauding and cheering and saying "ABOUT FUCKING TIME!" But I bet you at Journal Communications sure are appalled to hear someone directly challenge you on your BS- elitist snobs do hate it when someone punctures their bubble.

B. When "Reward Walker" gear has your station's name on them, you bet we're going to lump your station in with those hosts. Illy-T mentions that Sykes' TV-4 show had none other than the head of Media Trakkkers on today. (and why does Sykes get a show on TMJ-4? I'm sure that's not corporate synergy by a "sister company" or anything) Do you think Sykes asked Sick-ma why he ran with unfounded BS allegations? Or do you think Char-LIE gave Sick-ma the legitimate question of "Why should anyone believe you when you've been proven false several times and you're funded by right-wing organizations?" Suuuuure.

Saying Charles Sykes and Jeff Wagner and other bilge-spewing hosts do not represent "the rest of the [AM 620]station" is like saying Jerry Sandusky doesn't represent Penn State University. Give me a fucking break, J-S. Right-wing propaganda defines your station when you don't have sports on. OWN IT.

2. The Wisconsin State Journal tried the pathetic "both sides do it" story when discussing out of state donations for and against the Recall Walker effort. The comparison tries to show that both the Dems and Walker get big money from out of state, but check out the difference in numbers.
Documents made available by the state on Friday showed that nearly 60 percent of the donations and almost 30 percent of the $1.18 million raised by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin since July came from outside the state.

That news comes a day after Gov. Scott Walker submitted documents revealing nearly half of the $5.1 million he raised — the most by one candidate in one filing period in state history — came from beyond state borders.
30% of $1.18 million is about $350,000. Now explain to me how the Dems' $350,000 is anything close to or equal to Scott Walker's haul of $2.5 million from out of state? And how is 30% of Dem total money close to the 50% of Walker's money? For crying out loud 2 Walker donators (a Texass Swift-Boater and the head of pay-for-play company U-Line) gave Walker more cash than the Dems got from the other 49 states combined. HOW IS THIS REMOTELY THE SAME? But the State Journal's story is clearly intended to give a "both parties rely on big amounts of out of state money" storyline that diminishes how bought-off Walker is by out-of-state interests.

Bill Lueders is more honest about this difference in his article on Saturday, mentioning the Dems' numbers, but also concentrating his article on Walker's fund-raising, naming names, and including the stat that Walker got 45% of his money in donations of $1,000 or more. Not surprisingly, Lueders works outside of Lee Enterprises, and doesn't work for a paper that went against the wishes of 68% of Dane County by endorsing Walker for Governor last November.

This "both sides are guilty" technique is used by media in D.C. all the time, where they try to take one or two people doing what the majority of the other party does to make the actions seem even, or defensible, as the (usually corrupt) other party can say "Well see, the other guy took money from ____" or "See, those guys also believe in ____." Well actually, most of them don't and the amount of money and level of influence it buys isn't close, but our media constantly fails to give this truth in the name of being "nonbiased." It's pathetic, and it consistently gives cover and advantages to certain corrupt organizations and self-centered interests, while also playing into a "both sides suck so you shouldn't demand more" cynicism that turns the average citizen off to politics, and keeps those selfish interests entrenched.

We need to see past these games played by corporate media, and demand more honesty, detail, and perspective in reporting, instead of lazy journalism that seems to worry more about grabbing headlines and being "balanced" over reporting reality. They're going to try it to play these games a lot in these next 6 months, and the only way they won't get away with it is if we stay vigilant and make them pay.

P.S- Capper has more good numbers on how much more Walker relies on out-of-state money than the Recall groups do. The State Journal would never lay out the numbers this way, despite it being true.


  1. Who benefits from increased campaign spending? Hmm. There's a reason these stories about news coverage don't even bother to mention the quality of reporting from television news.

  2. Bingo, John. It's also why TV will insist something is "controversial" or "debatable" when it really isn't, and why "both sides" media stories exist- to keep ratings up and campaign money coming in.