The network morning shows on Thursday failed to find any controversy in union protests from Wisconsin, ignoring the signs comparing Scott Walker, the state's Republican governor, to the Taliban, the Nazis and Hitler. Fox News, on the other hand, highlighted the attacks on "Mullah Walker."
Wisconsin radio talk show host Vicki McKenna appeared on Your World With Neil Cavuto to discuss the battle over whether state employees will have to pay more for their pension and health care. Citing the attacks by liberals, she informed, "I have been called the Taliban, Hitler...I mean, anything that involves dictator, tyrants or genocide, historical references to slavery."
In comparison, Good Morning News anchor Juju Chang spun the story: "Well, a bill seen as the most aggressive anti-union proposal in the country goes up for a vote in Wisconsin today." She simply claimed that state workers are "swarming the capitol in protest."
Early Show news anchor Jeff Glor defined the protest as "a dramatic showdown between state workers and the Governor." Yet, CBS didn't inform viewers that many of the marchers were holding signs with targets over the Governor or comparing him to Egypt's dictator Hosni Mubarak.
On the Today show, Ann Curry blandly explained, "Wisconsin lawmakers could vote today on a bill that drew thousands of protesters at their state house last night. The measure would strip government workers, except police and firefighters, of nearly all union bargaining rights and make them pay more for pensions and health coverage."
On Your World, McKenna told guest host Chris Cotter, "There is a different side out there you are not hearing because, you know, those folks are paid for, bought and paid for protesters."
As Fox News played clips of some of the more offensive signs, McKenna asserted that signs including swastikas have been "absolutely typical" during the ongoing debate.
Video of the hateful signs can be found here.
As this story continues to grow, will the same journalists who condemned the Tea Party for violent and hateful signs do the same for liberal, pro-union protesters?
A transcript of the February 17 Your World segment, which aired at 4:03pm EST, follows:
CHRIS COTTER: Vicki McKenna is a radio talk show host in Wisconsin and she has been hearing a side to the story that many are not hearing. Vicki, welcome to the show.
VICKI MCKENNA: Thanks for asking. Yeah, there is a different side out there you are not hearing because, you know, those folks are paid for, bought and paid for protesters. It's a rent-a-mob. Outside the rent a mob, people like this plan.
COTTER: How can they like a plan that, from point A to point B, essentially takes away compensation. It makes them pay more in for health care. It makes them pay more in for their pension. So, it essentially takes money out of their pocket.
MCKENNA: Well, because most of the people paying the bills are not government workers and understand we have made similar kinds of sacrifices. In fact, a lot of folks have made much ore substantial sacrifices. And, so, asking someone to pay 5.6 percent of their own pension or 12.6 percent of the cost of their own health care when that is not even half the national average, it really isn't making us feel the love for their, for their plight, particularly when they have pensions in the first place.
COTTER: Uh, Vicki, you want to listen to your some of your callers throughout the course of the last couple of days, if we can, just to get a flavor for what the feeling is up in Wisconsin.
[From the radio show.]
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I like the job so I stay at it. I do-
MCKENNA: You like the benefits, Jeff. Admit it. You like the benefits.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, yes. They're not bad, but I'm willing to pay into it because I do like the job and I have no problem paying into that. I have no problem whatever.
SECOND UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'm also a union worker in Madison, construction, and I'm tired of the union trying to constantly push the Democratic agenda on their union workers.
COTTER: Well, Vicki, this brings up another point and we're going to speak with David Harswick, who is with the Wisconsin Education System, but I want to ask you, the feeling from the callers, to they really feel like the union callers, do they really feel like the union leadership is representing their best interests?
MCKENNA: Well, it depends on which union callers you are talking about. The private sector unions, they are not sympathetic here. Most of the public sector union members are probably going to be, you know, quite distressed that they are going to have to contribute some more to their pension or a little bit more to their health care but there is a substantial group of folks who to not feel compelled to speak who are public sector union employees who think this is a perfectly fair plan.
COTTER: Now, Vicki, here in New York, here in New York last year, the state legislature in Albany they turned the lights off, one group, when they disagreed with another group was saying. It's sort of like when you're in the second grade when the teacher turns the light off on you. I guess that is not as bad as leaving the state. What do the people there in Wisconsin feel like about their legislators literally hightailing it out of the state rather than voting?
MCKENNA: Well, in fact, the sentiment is moving very much against the public employees the longer this goes on. Even in some of the denser pro union areas like Milwaukee, you see two-to-one in favor of this bill against these kinds of protest. You've got 70 percent outside the denser union areas that support this bill. They do not like that the Democrats left. The Democrats, indeed, if I could correct the report, have violated article four of the Wisconsin Constitution of two sections and that makes people angry because they are there to do their jobs and they hightailed it to Illinois. We need to send out the bloodhounds, apparently.
COTTER: And one last thing here, Vicki: When you look around the country there seems to be a backlash against a lot of the supporters of the public unions there protesting in Madison. We have seen a lot of the signs "Walker equals Hitler." Some of these other signs- there you seen one there right there with the swastika. Do you think that's a few bad apples spoiling it for everyone?
MCKENNA: That is absolutely typical of the signs you're seeing there. I've got them posted up there on my website. We've have had our reporters down there since Monday. I have been called the Taliban, Hitler, Mullah Walker. I mean, anything that involves dictator, tyrants or genocide, historical references to slavery. That is, indeed, what we have been accused of for just simply wanting the public sector to get more if line with the private sector.
A transcript of the news briefs from the February 17 morning shows can be found below:
The Early Show
JEFF GLOR: In Wisconsin, a dramatic showdown between state workers and the Governor today, as nearly two dozen school districts are closed down. Workers held a sleep-in at the state house overnight, over a cost-cutting bill.
PROTESTORS: This is wrong! This is wrong!
GLOR: Thousands of teachers and other state workers are calling in sick and protesting a bill that would raise the cost of their health insurance and pensions, and eliminate collective bargaining. Yesterday, up to 20,000 gathered. Another massive rally and statewide strikes are planned for today. Those school districts are closing down preemptively today. Wisconsin's new Republican Governor, Scott Walker, says the state is at a point of financial crisis.
Good Morning America
JUJU CHANG: Well, a bill seen as the most aggressive anti-union proposal in the country goes up for a vote in Wisconsin today. And it appears lawmakers will pass it. State workers are swarming the capitol in protest. The bill would strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights and cut benefits. One teacher says it would cost her $1,200 per month. But the governor says the state is broke.
ANN CURRY: Wisconsin lawmakers could vote today on a bill that drew thousands of protesters at their state house last night. The measure would strip government workers, except police and firefighters, of nearly all union bargaining rights and make them pay more for pensions and health coverage. Wisconsin's governor says it would save $300 million over two years and prevent layoffs.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.