MSNBC's Ed Schultz on Thursday expressed a great deal of skepticism concerning Thursday's revelation that a significant number of ballots had not been included in the Wisconsin Supreme Court election held two days prior.
While he pointed fingers at the Waukesha County Clerk as being a Republican operative, he completely ignored the fact that a the very press conference he aired a clip from, the Vice Chair of that county's Democratic Party spoke and confirmed the results (videos follow with partial transcripts and commentary):
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Thanks for watching tonight. Of course, we’re following the breaking news out of Wisconsin, and the latest twist in the supreme court election. Let me tell you, folks, it is a dandy. Late this afternoon, Waukesha County, a Republican stronghold, corrected its vote count, giving Justice David Prosser an unofficial 7,500-vote lead over Joanne Kloppenburg. Prosser’s surge could potentially end a recount effort before it even starts. Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus says more than 14,000 votes were not previously recorded due to, quote, "human error."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHY NICKOLAUS, WAUKESHA COUNTY CLERK: This is not a case of extra votes or extra ballots being found. This is human error, which I apologize for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: OK. The AP reports that Nickolaus forgot to save vote totals from suburban Milwaukee. Nickolaus has been criticized for lack of oversight in the past. Interesting. An audit of her handling of the 2010 election found she need to improve security and -- what do you know -- backup procedures.
Prior to getting elected clerk, Nickolaus worked for the Assembly Republican Caucus. And the "Wisconsin State Journal" reports Nickolaus worked for the caucus when David Prosser was speaker of the caucus. Are we making this up? No.
The caucus is controlled by the speaker. Meanwhile, the Walker administration is asking the state supreme court to halt a restraining order barring the enforcement of their anti-union law.
The state attorney general alleges Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi overstepped her authority. His petition asks the high court to immediately stay the restraining order, citing lost saving to the state.
Time to bring in John Nichols, Washington correspondent of "The Nation." Good to have you with us tonight, John. I cannot believe that we’ve just reported on this program the last three minutes. Can you believe? is this really happening? This is crazy. What do you think, John?
JOHN NICHOLS, "THE NATION": It’s pretty incredible, Ed. Imagine this, a county clerk forgets the second largest city in her county, a county of 40,000 people. This clerk, a former Republican staffer, as you’ve reported, has a long history of secretive and erratic activities.
She finds precisely the number of votes that David Prosser needs to avoid an official recount. And then the information doesn’t come out in major media in the state, the newspapers, television stations, that have been covering this story from the start, but rather on right wing blogs and right wing talk radio.
SCHULTZ: Where does this take us, John?
NICHOLS: It takes us to a point where Wisconsinites are justifiably skeptical about what has happened. Recounts often produce unexpected twists and turns. Votes turn up. But this is an unprecedented number of votes.
So former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlogger (ph) has said that this needs an investigation and inquiry. There’s a lot of questions about how you would investigate. The Kloppenburg campaign has this evening mounted an open records request, looking for all the computer data and communication information between the county clerk and outside parties.
Also, the group Citizen Action has asked that the U.S. attorney impound the ballots in Waukesha County and also seek the phone and computer records of the county clerk, particularly for those communications with outside actors.
SCHULTZ: So the wheels are in motion to make sure this is all on the up an up. The Kloppenburg camp on the move right now and also the activist group that you just mentioned. This could stop the recount, or stop the process before it even gets started.
And it would seem to me, with the Republicans in power and the governor where he is right now, he might be on solid ground to just move forward and implement this bill. What do you think?
NICHOLS: I think this is so very controversial, Ed, that we’re going to have to watch as the rest of the counties in the state go through their canvas. David Prosser is right on the edge of being outside the official recount number. But if those ballots are impounded, and also, if the right demands are made, the Kloppenburg campaign can force a recount of those Waukesha County ballots.
They would have to pay for it. But frankly, I think at this point there would be plenty of Wisconsinites who are willing to put down the money to pay for a ballot by ballot count to make sure that this election has not been messed with.
SCHULTZ: This is an absolutely amazing development. How do these votes just fall right out of the sky or all of a sudden get picked up off the floor like this? It is an amazing story, especially with Kathy Nickolaus’ history of having some issues in the past. Will anything come out of the latest move by the Walker administration on this, do you think?
NICHOLS: I think the Walker administration is certainly going to feel empowered by this. But again, this piles on to a host of incredibly scandalous and controversial developments. Some of them may ultimately turn out to be legitimate.
But when you put this into the pattern of what we’ve seen, violations of Open Meetings Law, late night votes, 17 second votes in the state assembly, again and again, things that are so controversial. Wisconsinites have a right to be skeptical. They have a right to say, look, we need a recount. We need to look at all these ballots and make sure that our supreme court, no matter who goes on to it, is legitimate.
SCHULTZ: And the Kloppenburg camp will move quickly on trying to get as many records through the Open Records Law as possible. That will probably be the next chapter in this unbelievable story.
REPORTER: Kathy, just so that those people that are watching this and the average person understands that this wasn’t, you know, you working as some for (?) county, was there a Democrat at, a representative for the Democratic Party in the room, and if so, are they willing to make a statement in regards to it?
KATHY NICKOLAUS, WAUKESHA COUNTY CLERK: We do have on the Board of Canvass, we do have the, a Democrat and a Republican – one of each.
REPORTER: And their name was?
NICKOLAUS: Ramona Kitsinger (sp).
REPORTER: And is Ramona able to make that a statement backing up office?
NICKOLAUS: Are you comfortable?
RAMONA KITSINGER (SP), VICE CHAIR WAUKESHA COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Yes, we went, we went over. Yes, we went over everything and made sure that all the numbers jived up, and they did.
REPORTER: So, you had no objections to any of this?
KITSINGER (SP): Not, no, not that, everything we went over yesterday afternoon and today those numbers jived up. And we’re satisfied that it’s correct. And I’m the Democratic Party Vice Chair Waukesha County, so I’m not going to stand here and tell you something that’s not true.
I guess Schultz and Company didn't think it was necessary to inform their viewers that the Vice Chair of the Democratic Party in this county was involved in the canvass and said at the same press conference they aired a clip of that she was satisifed the numbers were correct.
Instead, MSNBC invited on John Nichols from the far-left magazine the Nation to advance the conspiracy theory that Nickolaus had possibly done something nefarious to tip the scales in this election to Prosser.
Sadly, this is what qualifies as journalism at MSNBC today.