Friday, June 5, 2015

The sad state of "journalism" in Wisconsin

If you need an idea as to why our state's political coverage doesn't give you the whole story, let me direct you to this report in The Progressive by Madison's Bill Lueders. Lueders went to a panel hosted by the Madison Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists that discussed how the Wisconsin media reports on Scott Walker, and how it may have become different now that Scotty is running for president.

Many in the audience expressed frustration and anger that these media members would not call out Gov Walker when he says something provably wrong and dishonest, and the responses from the "professionals" are telling. Included in that panel were the Wisconsin State Journal's Matt DeFour, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Patrick Marley, and Madison TV reporter Jessica Arp. DeFour started by stating that the out-of-state crowds find Walker to be "an honest person."
The audience broke into laughter. “I was expecting that kind of reaction from this room,” DeFour continued. “I think your expectation, maybe everyone’s expectation, is that when I’m at these events and I’m talking to people, when somebody says, ‘You know, I really like how honest this guy is,’ I think your expectation is that [I should say], ‘Actually, he’s a welder.’ [an earlier metaphor meaning "liar"] [And] I don’t think that’s my responsibility.”

The panelists seemed intent on saying that honesty is in the eye of the beholder, when the whole idea of PolitiFact is to offer a definitive assessment. DeFour credited Walker with being “an extremely good politician,” with a gift for framing issues in a way that appeals to the whatever group he’s speaking to. “I think that’s just how politics works.”

Marley, speaking next, conceded the panel was starting to sound like politicians, giving “political answers.” He said of Walker: “He is a politician, and I don’t know that his relationship with the truth is markedly different than that of many other politicians. (what a pile of false equivalency BS that is!) … Their job is to make their case to try to get as many votes as they can. Our job is to translate that into the facts.”

Arp agreed it was “not my job” to say whether Walker is honest. “My job is to tell you what he said and you get to decide whether you think he is honest or not.” She also praised Walker’s political skills: “This is someone who knows what to say and how to say it to get his point across everyday.”
Umm Matt, Patrick, and Jessica....SAYING WHETHER SOMEONE IS TELLING THE TRUTH IS YOUR JOB! You get paid money to know about subjects, and report on them with the ability to connect the words of the politician with the reality, or report on the lack of that connection to reality. Your job is to report facts, not to allow politicians to spin things that aren't facts. Your job isn't to be the relayer of propaganda, your job is to CHALLENGE that propaganda and give context to the situation at hand. The only reason Walker is allowed to change his story based on the group he is speaking to isn't "just how politics works." It happens because YOU ALLOW THE BS TO STAND INSTEAD OF CALLING IT OUT.

It reminds me of the quote that convinced me never to take Chuck Todd seriously on any subject that doesn't involve poll numbers.
During a segment on "Morning Joe," former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) speculated that most opponents of the Affordable Care Act have been fed erroneous information about the law. Todd said that Republicans "have successfully messaged against it" but he disagrees with those who argue that the media should educate the public on the law. According to Todd, that's President Barack Obama's job.

"But more importantly, it would be stuff that Republicans have successfully messaged against it," Todd told Rendell. "They don't repeat the other stuff because they haven't even heard the Democratic message. What I always love is people say, 'Well, it's you folks' fault in the media.' No, it's the President of the United States' fault for not selling it."
Good journalists should be removing cynicism and dishonesty from politics by making politicians pay a severe price for telling lies and performing failed policies, or reward politicians for telling the truth. They INFORM their audience about what policies do (or don't do). Instead, journalists like DeFour, Marley, Arp, and Todd are ADDING to the cynicism by shrugging off lies by saying "We don't know, you viewers/readers with 500 other things to do can figure it out." No "journalists", YOU DO KNOW, we don't, and your job is to tell us what's going on. The bass-ackwardness of their mentality leads to the "they're all the same" mentality that allows destructive liars like Scott Walker to slip by with just enough votes to stay in power.

Then again, these guys don't get to go out of state on the company dime or write Walker books (like Marley already did with Act 10) if Scott Walker doesn't win the November 2014 election, or if he is removed as a viable presidential candidate. So by shrugging their shoulders, it keeps them on the gravy train, and allows them to raise their profile as well. I'm not saying that's what they are doing, but it sure is a nice perk of not having to tell the truth about what's really happening with Scott Walker. It also allows their media companies to keep getting money from Walker ads if they go along with the game.

This is part of the reason I write things that I do, because our "professional" media in Wisconsin won't tell you the full story, or give the time and effort to go into detail because they don't want to step on the wrong toes. And because the cesspool of WalkerWorld has contaminated these people so badly, it's why I gave the local media this nickname.


  1. Since the "winner-take-all" mindset has infected everything including the media, I am not shocked that journalists have redefined their roles in order to bolster their incomes. I am shocked that this now occurs at such lower levels of the media.

    Being around as long as I have, I can recall the transforming effect that watching "Hunger in America" on Thanksgiving, 1968 had on me; how Walter Cronkite's statement at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention that he was witnessing "a police state in action", or when Dan Rather reported from Vietnam that "General Westmoreland's statement doesn't appear to be true" shook what I thought was true. One only has to review the daily pounding of the Watergate coverage to realize that was another era. Those things even carried down to the local level, the Milwaukee Journal and the Capital Times crusaded to out Joseph McCarthy as a fraud and a liar, and took the heat for doing so, but they never flinched.

    You will never see reporting like that in your lifetime Jake, and I am profoundly sad about it.

    1. Exactly Doc, it's why Jon Stewart and John Oliver are the best journalists out there. Because good comedy comes from having a truth under it.

      Wisconsin reporters are failing where comedians are succeeding. Because good comedians aren't afraid of pissing off those in power, while these "journalists" are reliant on the politician and this corrupt system, and it scares them from giving the people a true story into what is going on

  2. Matt DuFour was on Wisconsin Public Radio a few days ago, and just after saying that his job was to report what Walker says, he discussed how exciting and surprising it was to be able to cover a national story (Walker) from a small outlet like the WSJ. It was a little pathetic.

    It is the job of the Governor's (or Campaigner's) press office to "tell us what he said." If that is all DuFour is going to do, then he should just be paid by the Governor directly and drop his veneer of "journalism."

    These "journalists" admit they are just stenographers to power. And that no brain is needed between the input of the press release/speech and the output of their printed page. No wonder no one wants to pay for their "work."

  3. Patrick Marley's Twitter feed today (Saturday) seemed like it was coming straight from the Walker campaign, oops, visit, to Iowa. Photo after photo of Walker on his Harley, complete with the obligatory prayer before riding. I replied to the tweets, calling Marley on this advertising rather than reporting -- no response, of course. Pretty sad.

  4. Today's journalism is on track with 1930's German journalism! Where did that get us?

  5. hello,

    you have written nonsense. your opinions on journalism are bad and wrong.

    congratulations on your nonsense.

    1. I always love dead-Enders who write things like this, but never give one shred of evidence as to why it is "nonsense." Probably because doing so would require effort and introspection, which is far too much of a risk for the feelings of a Walker-supporting wimp.

      C''mon back, Mr. Drive-By, and enlighten me as to what's wrong with my assessment, especially since it's based on the words of the "reporters" themselves.