NY Times, WashPost Concoct Scott Walker 'Criminal Scheme' Front-Pagers As They Bury IRS Scoops

The Washington Post and The New York Times can’t seem to locate the story (never mind the outrage) of destroyed hard drives at the IRS. The latest IRS scandal scoops have been buried deep in the paper. But both biased rags put Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on the front page Friday in an alleged campaign-finance scandal pushed by Democratic district attorneys.

Neither paper revealed the prosecutors were Democrats, but the Post won the sliming sweepstakes with the headline “Prosecutors: Wis. governor involved in illicit scheme.” The second paragraph explains “Walker has not been charged, and his legal jeopardy is unclear.” So why is this on the front page? No reason, except liberal journalists unleashing their 2016 campaign phobias.

The first paragraph of Matea Gold and Tom Hamburger’s Post piece loaded up the scare-phrases from a “multi-county investigation blocked last month by a federal judge”:

Wisconsin prosecutors have alleged that Gov. Scott Walker was part of a wide-ranging “criminal scheme” to coordinate the activities of conservative groups that spent millions to help him and other Republicans fend off recall efforts, according to documents released Thursday.

The Times headline was more neutral: “Wisconsin Governor at Center of a Vast Fund-Raising Case.” Monica Davey and Nicholas Confessore began:

Prosecutors in Wisconsin assert that Gov. Scott Walker was part of an elaborate effort to illegally coordinate fund-raising and spending between his campaign and conservative groups during efforts to recall him and several state senators two years ago, according to court filings unsealed Thursday.

Is that how these newspapers covered Ken Starr, as merely a "prosecutor"? Investigate Clinton or Obama, and you must have some sort of political motive. But somehow Democrats never have political motives.

Gabriel Malor provided some conservative context at The Federalist:

This is a true story: in 2012, Democratic district attorneys in Wisconsin launched a secret probe known as a John Doe investigation with the goal of proving that conservative groups illegally coordinated activities during Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election. They issued more than 100 subpoenas, demanded the private information of conservatives and conservative groups, and actually conducted secret raids. And under state law, individuals who were targeted or witness to the investigation were forbidden from making knowledge of it public.

Fortunately, judges saw right through this partisan abuse of power. Early this year, a state judge, ruling in a secret proceeding, quashed the subpoenas and all but ended the investigation. According to the judge, “the subpoenas do not show probable cause that the moving parties committed any violations of the campaign finance laws.” This started the unraveling of the John Doe investigation that had many conservatives fearing they would be targeted for subpoenas and raids next.

In February, a conservative activist and group filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the partisan district attorneys who had pursued the John Doe probe. In short order, a federal district court judge held that the plaintiffs “are likely to succeed on their claim that the defendants‘ investigation violates their rights under the First Amendment, such that the investigation was commenced and conducted “without a reasonable expectation of obtaining a valid conviction.” In other words, at this early stage of the civil rights litigation, it looks to the judge as if the Democratic district attorneys abused their power and chilled conservatives’ free speech rights. Accordingly, the federal judge ordered that the John Doe probe must cease, all the seized property be returned, and all copies of materials be destroyed.


Both reporting duos allowed the Wisconsin Club for Growth to attack those (can’t label them Democratic) attorneys for conducting an “unconstitutional investigation.” But both these national newspapers are more interested in presenting this case as a major hurdle to any Scott Walker campaign to challenge Hillary Clinton for the White House.

The photo caption in the Times read "Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is seeking a second term in November, and newly released documents could hurt him." This makes it seem obvious that national newsworthiness equals potential Republican damage.

This is the third front-page story the Post has run on Scott Walker in 2014. Back on February 20, they ran a "probes threaten to hurt Walker" story headlined “Gov. Walker, eyeing 2016, faces fallout from probes.” On March 4, the Post explored his time as Milwaukee County Executive, with the headline “For Walker, image was a priority.” Like it’s not for Democrats?

The Post website today has the governor-crook headline “Scott Walker named in alleged ‘criminal scheme’” and openly wonders about harm to Walker’s ambitions: “How big could the Scott Walker scandal be?”

Brandon Rottinghaus concluded
he could lose his gubernatorial race in the fall:

Because of the alleged political collusion in this case and a very close election, this scandal may absolutely shrink enough support for Walker to lose the election.

Even if he survives in Wisconsin, keeps his position and wins reelection, the evidence suggests that his putative presidential campaign may take a hit, especially among his supporters.

What’s ridiculous about these newspapers is that they claim to despise the influence of major corporations having outsized influence in campaigns. But both newspapers come from major corporations with outsized influence, pushing aggressively to damage someone they fear is a Republican rising star. 

Both newspapers should add just add the word "Super PAC" to their mastheads.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis