Wisconsin State Senator Smacks Down Chris Matthews: 'You're Completely Uninformed'

MSNBC's Chris Matthews tried Monday to push the liberal media meme that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker exempted police and firefighters from his budget repair plan because their unions endorsed him in last November's election.

"Well one more time you're completely uninformed," replied Republican State Senator Glenn Grothman who then proceeded to tell the facts to the obviously clueless "Hardball" host (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Let me go to the Republican, Senator Grothman. My question of course is why does the Governor pick on the unions that didn't endorse him in the last campaign but give a free ride to the firefighters and the cops who did and the localities? Why did they get off and are allowed to continue to negotiate collectively?

STATE SENATOR GLENN GROTHMAN (R-WISCONSIN): Well one more time you're completely uninformed. The firemen’s union around this state have campaigned against Republicans, and the statewide police have repeatedly campaigned against Republicans. Governor Walker is doing this out of financial necessity. And out of financial necessity the state with a $3 billion budget deficit has to do something. Governor Walker as well as the cities, counties and schools which all rely on state money can either lay people off or have everybody take a mild reduction in take home pay. Myself with a mild reduction in take home pay is part of that. Now we understand…

MATTHEWS: Okay, you just said I’m wildly, once again I’m wildly out of, out of, wrong on the facts.

GROTHMAN: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: You’re telling me that there aren't local affiliates, there aren't local union organizations at the county level, municipal level that didn't endorse your governor candidate when he ran. Are you saying they didn't endorse him, the firefighters and the cops?

GROTHMAN: I can think of two small locals. The vast majority, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, the vast majority of firemen's unions worked against Walker in this campaign and to say otherwise is completely to mislead your listening audience.

So who's right?

Well, as NewsBusters reported Friday, Walker addressed this very question with CBS's Chris Wragge on that morning's "Early Show":

WRAGGE: You say this is a modest request. Now some state workers have been hit harder than others. Your teachers union, which votes Democratic under normal circumstances, hit very hard. Yet your police, state trooper, firemen unions, who all supported and endorsed you, did not get touched in any of this. Why is that?

WALKER: Well, Chris – Chris that actually is not true. There are 314 fire and police unions in the state. Four of them endorsed me. All the rest endorsed my opponent.

But let's not take his word for it. Let's see what Politifact had to say about this very subject Monday:

During the campaign last November, leaders of the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association and Milwaukee Police Association appeared in an ad supporting Walker and blasting his opponent, Democrat Tom Barrett. Walker also won endorsements from the West Allis Professional Police Association and the Wisconsin Troopers Association

Walker didn’t get the endorsements of two statewide unions, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association and the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, which both backed Barrett.

For the record, the governor told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the charge that he was exempting police and firefighters was "ridiculous." He said he didn't recommend changing the rules for police officers and firefighters because he didn’t want public safety work disrupted.

We then contacted the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, the statewide union that endorsed Walker's opponent last year. Executive director Jim Palmer said the statewide organization is much larger than the local Milwaukee police union that endorsed Walker. The state group has approximately 11,000 members versus Milwaukee’s roughly 1,400, he said.

Similarly, the state firefighters association has more than 3,000, compared with the Milwaukee union’s 875.

In reality, if Matthews or any of his staff knew had to do a Google search, this information is all a few keystrokes away. For instance,"THE WPPA ENDORSES TOM BARRETT FOR GOVERNOR":

Surrounded by law enforcement officers at a May 12th [2010] event, Tom Barrett received the endorsement of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association in his race to become the state’s next governor. [...]

The WPPA represents over 11,000 active and retired members from over 375 locals statewide. With over 70 years of service to law enforcement personnel, the WPPA is recognized as the leading law enforcement association in Wisconsin.

Or how about "Wisconsin Professional Fire Fighters endorse Tom Barrett for governor."

Finally, on an even grander scale, "Barrett endorsed by National Association of Police Officers":

On behalf of the more than 240,000 men and women of law enforcement it represents, the National Association of Police Officers (NAPO) today endorsed Tom Barrett for Wisconsin governor in recognition of his long record of support for and public safety officials and issues.

“NAPO is pleased to support your campaign and is confident of your support of Wisconsin’s law enforcement community,” NAPO executive director William J. Johnson wrote in a letter to Tom.

NAPO is a coalition of police unions and associations from across the United States that serves to advance the interests of America’s law enforcement through legislative and legal advocacy, political action and education. Founded in 1978, NAPO now represents more than 1,000 police units and associations, 241,000 sworn law enforcement officers, 11,000 retired officers and more than 100,000 citizens who share a common dedication to fair and effective crime control and law enforcement.

As such, this media meme advanced by Matthews Monday is a total fabrication.

Either the "Hardball" host and his staff are completely incompetent and are incapable of identifying what is clearly available on the internet, or they are intentionally misinforming their viewers in order to show support for the protesters in Madison.

Whatever the answer, the higher-ups at MSNBC should be doing something about this blatant negligence if they want their network to be in any way taken seriously.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.