Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday reading- Dom Noth on our pathetic political media

I highly recommend this article from Dom Noth for today. It starts out asking why the most extreme voices are given legitimacy and air time over more reasoned statements (if any exist today for the GOP). And he rightfully points the finger at a media in America and especially Wisconsin in how the game is slanted in favor of these ridiculous GOP politicians and their statements. As an example, Noth points out the double-standard that comes up with the non-story regarding Mary Burke's jobs plan, and Scott Walker's actual absurd and dishonest statements.
When [Walker]said Wisconsin “doesn’t have a job problem, we have a work problem,” he demeaned a million hard working low-income workers or job hunters hoping for action from a governor who failed to deliver the 250,000 new jobs he promised. (There is no question those boners helped Burke win their first debate and will draw more desperate attacks by his side, probably reaching back in time to her tenure under Jim Doyle – but that’s the painful politics of today.)

Consider how minor and common was Burke’s error yet what hard play it got from the media – a paid consultant quoted himself verbatim with jobs ideas from other states he suggested for her jobs program, but he didn’t change a word. That got him promptly fired and Burke accused of plagiarism, though candidates borrow ideas from each other all the time – in this case good ones, in Walker’s case clones from ALEC or from policies that have failed here. Yet the reporters gave the Burke issue more space than what Walker said, forcing the voters to dig out the balance the media failed to deliver.

Across the county similar examples of disparate coverage abound. So my complaint is simple. Journalists should be a bulwark against this leap toward instant gratification and obviously false statements. But when Politifacts flails around more than Tilt-o-Whirl, when news interviewers fail to pin the big lie or follow up with the vital question, journalism becomes just another transient pastime in a world filled with escapist opportunities.

Reporters electronic and print should scoff at a political dodge but bury with invective sheer hypocrisy, which is far more damaging to America in the long run. That would satisfy both their “gotcha” eureka for ratings and the public’s need to separate a small sin from a major one.
But what if those reporters are paid off and are under orders not to tell it like it is? The best examples being Dan (I Follow Up on Any GOP Smear) Bice and the increasingly-absurd Wisconsin Politi-crap - both have made extra efforts in the last month to go out of their way to try to make Burke and Walker seem equally deceptive, when any honest assessment would expose Walker as a seamy liar that is far more dishonest than Burke.

For example, Walker last night went on and on about how he backed ShotSpotter- a tool used by Milwaukee Police to locate where gunfire may have come from, with strong results in identifying shooters and reducing the number of "shots fired" incidents. Except anyone with a modicum of memory would recall that Gov Walker actively worked to take money away from Milwaukee Police that was designated for SpotShotter, as this article from Urban Milwaukee's Bruce Murphy in 2013 points out.
But even as the police look to beef up its policing, the state legislature has been cutting back funding to the department, which originally went for police overtime and community policing. State funding was $750,000 in 2006 but began to decline in the years since.

In the most recent budget, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee included $445,500 for community policing in Milwaukee, which [Milwaukee Police Chief Ed] Flynn hoped to use for ShotSpotter. But Walker removed it from his executive budget and legislators declined to restore the money. Walker has suggested that every city will want a special program like Milwaukee’s.

But Flynn responds that Milwaukee is the state’s only city with such a high level of crime or so great a need for funding. He charged that the governor’s response is political, and caused by “the apparent desperate need of the (Walker) administration to exact political payback on Milwaukee. Because the mayor had the temerity to challenge for the governor’s job. What else could it be?”
The public pressure and lobbying from legislators on both sides finally allowed $175,000 of the $445,500 of requested ShotSpotter funding to be restored and Walker signed it after feeing the heat. For him to stand up there last night and take credit for his "investment" was disgusting, and insulting to anyone who had a clue about his attempts to remove that item from the budget.

So what did the four white guys from Milwaukee media (guys who you'd think would have a bit of background on this issue) do at last night's debate when Walker tried to take credit for SpotShotter funding? They nodded and did absolutely nothing, like the good tools they are.

Now more than ever, we gotta watch the watchmen.

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