I had to do a double take when I looked over this afternoon's dispatch out of St. Paul, Minnesota from Patrick Condon of the Associated Press.
Readers unfamiliar with the Gopher State budget impasse to this point would fail to learn from the AP report that the dispute is all about raising taxes. Democratic Governor Mark Dayton wants tax increases on "the wealthy" (which really means high income-earners, whether or not they happen to be wealthy). The state's top marginal tax rate is already a very high 7.85%.
Dayton has chosen to shut down the government because the Republican-controlled legislature won't pass a budget containing his desired tax increases. It really is that simple. Minnesota's government is closed (actually, partially closed) because Mark Dayton chose to close it. Period.
Weekend coverage emanating from Minnesota via Reuters and the Associated Press is doing its level best to run interference for Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, who has chosen to shut down the government rather than sign a budget which does not include tax increases.
Yesterday was supposed to be a day of massive pro-union demonstrations nationwide designed to give Wisconsin public-sector employee moral support from hordes of their union and non-union "brothers" and "sisters" around the country.
Uh, that's not exactly what transpired.
The establishment press's fallback position in matters such as these when the protesters involved have their sympathies is to cite decent numbers where available, while otherwise referring to "large crowds," leaving it to the imaginations of readers, listeners, and viewers what that really means. Call it "creative crowd reporting." With some slip-ups, the New York Times and the Associated Press each employed this tactic yesterday.
Unfortunately for them, many local reporters did estimate crowd sizes in cities other than Wisconsin's capital of Madison, and they aren't particularly impressive (while still being suspect, as will be seen later). William Jacobsen at Legal Insurrection (HT Instapundit) compiled press reports from other cities as follows:
From all appearances, the Associated Press's Scott Bauer has a story, and he's sticking to it -- never mind the facts.
On February 17 (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in an item which mostly told readers that pending legislation would "eliminate collective-bargaining rights," Bauer let a kernel of truth slip into his second-last of nearly 40 paragraphs:
Unions still could represent workers, but could not seek pay increases above those pegged to the Consumer Price Index unless approved by a public referendum. Unions also could not force employees to pay dues and would have to hold annual votes to stay organized.
If "unions still could represent workers," and can still "seek pay increases," then they would still have at least some “collective-bargaining rights.” They wouldn't be as extensive, and perhaps they would be severely limited. But some level of "collective-bargaining rights" would still exist. Therefore, Bauer's claims and implications elsewhere in his report that the legislation would completely "eliminate collective-bargaining rights" were self-evidently false and deceptive.
In a laughably titled story ("Facts overshadowed in debate over union bill") datelined yesterday, Bauer again demonstrates, with assistance from colleague Patrick Condon, that he won't let a silly thing like the truth stand in his way. Each of the following excerpted items implicitly or explicitly asserts that all collective-bargaining rights would end: