Tuesday, November 4, 2014

One sure loser in Wisconsin- the Journal-Sentinel

Even before the polls close, I can already tell you who one big loser is in this Wisconsin election cycle. Here’s yet another excellent post from Dom Noth explaining why the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has destroyed any bit of credibility it may have had as a legitimate source of poltical news with its one-sided act from this campaign for governor.

Noth points out how the J-S threw all sense of journalistic integrity to the wind by relaying the attempted right-wing smear job on Mary Burke by Scott Walker ally Gary Ellerman, who just happens to head up the Jefferson County GOP. Noth says the J-S grossly failed to responsibly check the source, realize its bias, and follow up with other acts of verification to see if any of the racist Mr. Ellerman’s accusations might be true.

And Noth thinks the decision to play things this way has everything to do with the cynical corporate desires at Journal Communications.
…Other journalists now think JS broke with standard journalism practice to preserve their flagship role among E.W. Scripps newspapers. They don't follow the money but it sure is all about money. What does an outstate company care about a new governor who only wants to do the grit hard work of making Wisconsin better? Keeping Walker alive would put JS and his pretenses of national office in the headlines and sell more papers.

So it’s not just me saying this rush without evidence – and burying that it was without evidence -- was irresponsible journalism,or crass indecent attacks on a candidate and un-American to the sense of fair play. Editorials and new endorsement of Burke from unexpected corners are becoming a stampede and even more establishment outlets tell me they would be blasting away at JS except for their own “try not to think of green elephants” rule – they don’t want to repeat dirty tricks even in excoriating dirty tricks so close to an election.
Noth adds that the Milwaukee media’s kid-gloves treatment of Walker makes him the candidate who the people don’t know enough about, not Burke. To further this point, Noth says he could have made up accusations that Walker had firsthand knowledge of the doings involved in the activities that led to the numerous convictions in the John Doe case, or some “new info” about the still-mysterious circumstances surrounding Walker leaving Marquette University. Those charges would be more believable than what Walker’s allies said about Burke, but the J-S would never have gone ahead and printed those on the top of Page 1, as they did with the attack from the fired former Trek employee who just happens to head up the Jefferson County GOP, and is literally Standing with Walker in photos. The obvious double-standard is killing the Journal-Sentinel among those in the know.
…If this had been attempted as a last minute smear of Walker, both his friends in media and journalists who know the rules would have refused to play along or even evoke the lame excuse that it’s out there in crazy land so they have to repeat.

JS pounded the biggest nail it could find into its own coffin. The former employer I once admired is shredding its reputation as it trims down its veteran staff and ponders selling its legendary home. (as part of a new Bucks arena, while continuing to “objectively” report on the team. No conflict there, noooo).

Smell a rat abandoning a sinking ship? That compels responsible citizens to search for other sources truer to the rules of objectivity and opinion and more open about their purpose. Whether just independent, community oriented or roundedly liberal, or defiantly alternative, they are all looking more honest today. And this may be why there are now so many of them, many using former JS employees as disgusted as I am.
Here’s another Milwaukee journalist who hasn’t treated Scott Walker with kid gloves laying the wood to the J-S. Lisa Kaiser’s writings at the Shepherd Express have been required reading if you’ve been wanting the real story about how all of these often-complicated strands tie together in the Wisconsin GOP, right-wing media, and the oligarch dark money machine that props up Walker. The day after the smear was printed in the paper, and as the J-S was trying to take back their mistake with a lame after-the-fact editorial, Kaiser slammed the paper and especially “investigative reporter” Dan Bice for being a disgusting pro-Walker mouthpiece, and echoed Noth’s charges that corporate concerns and sensationalism was taking precedence at the J-S, instead of using actual judgment and performing responsible journalism.
First of all, the tip came from Wisconsin Reporter, the pro-Walker “watchdog” something or another that is funded by the Bradley Foundation, headed by Walker’s campaign chair, Michael Grebe.

Secondly, Wisconsin Reporter isn’t reliable, nor are its sources on this smear. If Bice is getting his tips from Wisconsin Reporter, then he needs to rethink his whole career.

Next, a disgruntled ex-employee is never a reliable source. Nor is a source who is a Republican Party official who ran as a fake Democrat in the recalls.

Lastly, the allegation cannot be proven. It occurred more than 20 years ago. All you have is a he said-Trek said story that everyone will talk about but can’t be proven. Typical race-to-the-bottom click-bait.

It’s sad—no, tragic—that the Journal Sentinel’s news coverage is taking this low road going into such an important election. Instead of shining a light on vital issues facing Wisconsin, the Journal Sentinel is fanning the flames of a right-wing smear. This sort of smear, so close to an election, never would have been touched in the past. This certainly isn’t Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism. It’s beneath them, frankly, but maybe they're all worried about keeping their jobs as the new owners clean house.
Regardless of whether the J-S’s boy Scott Walker survives this Election Night with his job intact (and ironically, the smear job may cost him his job, as it really pissed off a lot of people for being so dishonest and scummy), there are a whole lot of J-S writers, editors and executives that deserve to lose theirs after their epic fail over this 2014 campaign. But I suppose they don’t care about putting out a quality product with integrity as long as the money rolls in, right?


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