During the 2011-2012 controversy over Wisconsin's Act 10, the establishment press, led by the Associated Press, clearly took sides against Badger State Republican Governor Scott Walker and the GOP-led legislature. No one was more blatantly biased than the AP's Scott Bauer, who repeatedly insisted in 2011 and 2012 that the law "strip(s) most public employees of their union right to collectively bargain." It does not. While Act 10 sharply limits the scope of what can be negotiated, it does not eliminate unions' right to exist, or to negotiate.
Walker will be releasing a new book, "Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge," in November. Given the sustained national attention Act 10 received, the utlimately failed recall movement it inspired, and Walker's possible interest in seeking the nation's presidency in 2016, it's reasonable to believe that the AP would have wanted to carry Bauer's Monday morning review of the book as a national story. But thus far, it has not. I believe it's because Bauer comes across as a fundamentally dishonest and embarrassingly partisan sore loser.
On Friday morning, Milwaukee County District Attorney, a Democrat, announced that an investigation into illegal campaigning and other illegal acts while current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was the county's executive had concluded nine days earlier. Three former Walker aides, a political appointee, and two private citizens were sentenced. Two county officials pled guilty to crimes relating to campaigning on government time; two others stole money, one from a not-for-profit group and another from a county commission. One private citizen was sentenced for exceeding campaign contribution limits and laundering contributions; the other pled no contest to importuning a 17 year-old boy.
Walker himself was not charged. A top state Democratic Party official was so angry that he tweeted Jeffrey Dahmer analogies. It is pretty obvious, based on word choices he made in his related writeup, that the Associated Press's Scott Bauer, whose biased coverage of Walker has been clear for at least the past two years (previous NewsBusters posts with his tag are here), was also extremely displeased (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
I noticed at lunch on Tuesday while reading the handy Washington Post commuter tabloid called "Express" that Scott Bauer at Associated Press actually wrote this sentence: "A Marquette University Law School poll released last week showed Walker with a narrow 7-percentage point lead over Barrett, 52 percent to 45 percent." That looks like a pretty accurate poll.
Is this what the 2008 race was for Obama, a "narrow 7-percentage point lead" over McCain? Is that what AP will write if Obama is leading in October by seven points? This wasn't even the only time Scott Bauer used that ludicrous passage. Let's go back to last Thursday, from the same song sheet:
As of 11:15 p.m., with about 74% of the votes counted, Wisconsin Governor Scott was ahead of Scott Barrett by roughly a 56-44 margin. Late-arriving votes from Democrat-heavy areas of Milwaukee and Dane Counties seemed likely to narrow the margin to perhaps 10 points. (UPDATE: Because heavier margins of support for Barrett in those two counties, the final margin was 6.9%, roughly the same as Barack Obama's 7.4% margin in 2008, which was never labeled a "survival" or "narrow" or anything similar.)
The headlines currently at CNN (HT to a NewsBusters tipster) and the Associated Press both act as if Walker squeaked by. Pics follow the jump.
As he has for nearly 16 months, the AP's Scott Bauer once again included a false statement about what the budget repair legislation also known as "Act 10" passed by Wisconsin's legislature and signed by Governor Scott Walker last year did to public-sector unions and their ability to collectively bargain.
He wrote: "Enraged Democrats and labor activists gathered more than 900,000 signatures in support of the recall after they failed to stop Walker and his GOP allies in the state Legislature from stripping most public employees of their union right to collectively bargain." Y'know, Scott, you've been writing this garbage for 16 months. You can keep it up for the next 16 months or 16 years, but what won't change is that fact that your statement today and the equivalent statements you've written in the past simply aren't true, and never will be.
On May 27, going to the same theme Scott Bauer employed at the Associated Press yesterday, USA Today's Ben Jones did his level best to cast Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as the richly funded perpetual campaigner, while portraying Walker's recall challenger, former Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, as the underfunded man of the people underdog. Of course, as was the with Bauer's bombast, there's not a word about union-driven funding, which Walker estimated in an April Newsmax interview at about $60 million. This seems like preemptive excuse-making for a Walker victory on Tuesday. Preelection polls show Walker ahead by anywhere from 2 to 10 points.
Without a whit of skepticism, Jones relayed the following dissembling quote from a Barrett spokesperson which follows the jump:
Though he hasn't been alone in his applying the campaign fundraisng double standard in Wisconsin's recall election, Scott Bauer at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, has a particularly odious item today about the dollars raised by each side. It's particularly odious because the word "unions" appears only once -- as the target of Walker, who has, as Bauer sees it, "rocketed to stardom after taking on public sector unions." There is no mention of the millions of union dollars which have poured into Wisconsin from all over the country, which, thankfully, someone else has quantified.
Bauer also continues to bitterly cling to the notion, concerning which yours truly has been nagging him since February of last year, that "most Wisconsin public workers lost their collective bargaining rights" as a result of Walker-supported legislation which passed in the Legislature last year -- as if they no longer have any collective bargaining rights at all. This has been and continues to be a flat-out falsehood. The first five paragraphs of Bauer's bombast follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Leave it to the Associated Press's Scott Bauer to take shots at Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker -- in seeming orchestration with Democratic Party officials -- for limiting his public recall election appearances because of unsafe conditions leftists in the Badger State have created, "public safety" officials have too often condoned, and the establishment press has generally downplayed for well over a year.
Bauer and his "Essential Global News Network" have been among the lead minimizers of the death threats, violence, hatred, and intimidation of Wisconsin businesses by organized labor during that time. A year ago, the AP treated the arrest of a person who emailed death threats to 16 GOP state senators and their families as a local story. AP and others have also mostly ignored the non-stop stalking by Walker's civility-challenged opponents, who among other things have disrupted school visits (with vandalism), a Special Olympics ceremony, and a police memorial. So it took a special brand of gall for Bauer and bullying Dems, including Walker's recall opponent, to criticize the governor for having to take conditions on which the press has not shone a light into account in how he campaigns (bolds are mine):
In February, yours truly sensed a misstatement of reality on the part of Associated Press reporter Scott Bauer in his description of the budget repair law the Wisconsin Legislature was then considering. At the beginning of his report, Bauer wrote that the law would "end a half-century of collectively bargaining," but later wrote that "unions could still represent workers" (That doesn't exactly signal an "end," does it?). In several other subsequent reports (examples here and here), Bauer insisted on incorrectly describing the law as "ending" or "eliminating" collective bargaining. It does neither.
Tonight, in reporting on the progress of the Badger State effort to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker, Bauer slightly rephrased his false claim, glossed over the current controversy over validation of petitioners' names and registration status, again contradicted himself, and made little effort at hiding his overt partisanship (bolds are mine throughout this post):
UPDATE: BizzyBlog commenter "Rich in Iowa" notes that what the AP is criticizing is "a clearinghouse for employers and job seekers hosted by the State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and this site pre-dates Walker’s Governorship by, oh, maybe a decade."
Boy, Scott Bauer and the Associated Press have really, really nailed Scott Walker this time -- not.
Bauer found that some of the jobs listed in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's "Job Center of Wisconsin" website are located in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan). Imagine that: The Badger State's governor is including jobs in neighboring states because he apparently believes that his state would be better off if some of its unemployed workers found jobs across the border. Oh the humanity.
Wednesday evening, the Associated Press's Sam Hananel, with predictable help from Scott Bauer, tried to do a Bing Crosby imitation ("Unions look for silver lining in Wisconsin recalls") in an attempt to "Accentuate the Positive" in reporting on the results of yesterday's attempts to defeat six Republican Badger State Senators in recall elections.
Democrats, leftists, and public-sector unions needed to win three of the six races to tentatively and perhaps only temporarily regain a State Senate majority. They only got two, putting the GOP's temporary majority at 17-16. Temporary? Oh, Hananel "somehow" forgot to tell readers that two electoral attempts to replace Democratic State Senators are taking place next week, and that their retention of those positions is by no means assured.
Given a chance to revise and extend its 9:58 a.m. report (covered this afternoon at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) on the June 13 altercation between Wisconsin Supreme Court Judges David Prosser, Jr. and Ann Walsh Bradley, the Associated Press's 5:29 p.m. version persists in telling its national audience only one side of the story.
Although the fact is that accounts as to who was the aggressor completely differ, the wire service's oddly unbylined story (a 650-word AP item usually has a byline -- it's almost as if someone doesn't want their name on it) will cause its readers, including subscribing news outlets around the country, to believe that the only open question is whether and how hard Prosser choked Bradley. One suspects that AP's "fairness" defense will be the employment of these three words in Paragraph 8: "While accounts differ ..." Sorry guys, that doesn't cut it when the accounts are totally opposite.
Gosh, I would have thought that someone in Wisconsin's or America's labor movement would have caught Scott Bauer's clear June 15 understatement of the net pay hit many unionized public sector workers in the Badger State will be taking as a result of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, commonly known as the "Budget Repair Bill," once the law's provisions become effective on July 1. That error is in the following sentence from Bauer's report ("New lawsuit filed against Wisconsin union law"):
The law also requires workers to pay 12 percent of their health insurance costs and 5.8 percent of their pension costs, which amount to an 8 percent pay cut on average.
The AP reporter apparently spent time which should have gone towards getting the facts right to ensuring, as he did in a June 14 story (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), that the law was described as "polarizing" as often as possible. Bauer's frequent use of the P-word also seemingly distracted union supporters who read or heard portions of Bauer's report from noticing the error I will explain shortly.
As has been the case virtually from the beginning, the Associated Press's Scott Bauer has been clearly unhappy with 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, commonly known even to the Wisconsin Supreme Court as the "Budget Repair Bill." Today, the court ruled that the law as enacted by the Badger State's legislature and signed by Governor Scott Walker can go into effect on July 1.
Looking back at what's available of Bauer's body of work on the matter during the past four months, his consistent mischaracterization of the bill's contents, saying that it would "eliminate collective bargaining" when it doesn't (shown here and here), is truly striking. What's even more striking (pun intended) is how he and his employer described the law in the report's headline and first sentence in at least one early version this evening:
The undisguised bias of a dispatch tonight by Associated Press reporter Laurie Kellman, with help from Scott Bauer, about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's appearance before a Congressional committee may have as its source two items found at the Newspaper Guild's web site (seen after the jump).
One is an announcement relating to a possible deterioration in the Guild's negotiations with AP, where union members have been working without a contract since November. Immediately below the announcement is an extraordinarily mean and spiteful cartoon produced by "alternative" comic Tom Tomorrow directed at Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan which has no place at the site of a group wishing to at least maintain a fig-leaf pretense of objectivity.
First let's look at several of the sentences seen in the 10:26 p.m. version of the pair's report (saved here at my host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) -- after the headline ("Wisconsin governor defends hobbling unions'), with which the AP pair may have had help:
Even though the goings-on in Wisconsin this year connected with collective-bargaining rights legislation have been front-page news nationwide for well over a month, the Associated Press has apparently concluded that folks outside the Badger State couldn't possibly be interested in real threats of serious violence issued against Republican legislators who voted for it -- and their families.
The latest support for that contention comes in the AP's coverage of the indictment and arrest of Katherine Windels on four counts: two relating to "threatening injury or harm" and two for "bomb scares."
At first I thought that the wire service might have totally ignored the story when a search at the AP's home site on the woman's last name at 8:45 a.m. this morning came up empty. But AP did report the news -- in Wisconsin, treating it, at least based on the tag at the left seen below, as a local story ("Wisconsin woman Katherine Windels charged for threats to state senators"):
You knew, based on his track record of biased and inaccurate reporting during the Badger state standoff that Scott Bauer's Thursday attempt to explain the state's situation and events occurring up to that point ("Key questions surrounding Wisconsin union fight") wouldn't exactly be fair and balanced.
But it's Bauer's answer to one of his own crafted questions that revealed as much as anything I've seen in the past few weeks about where he's really been coming from.
The question is:
So when the Democrats come back to the Capitol, what's to stop the Republicans from passing almost anything they want?"
What do you think Bauer's answer was? The answer, and a link to the AP item, are after the jump. No fair Googling or search for an answer.
The instinct here is that an Associated Press "story" by Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, will get lots of radio and TV time tomorrow.
That would be a reasonable expectation, because what Bauer writes isn't really a "story" as much as it is a free political announcement. I'm predicting that the establishment press will love it, especially the opening paragraph:
Wis. defeat could help launch counterattack on GOP
With the labor movement suffering an epic defeat in Wisconsin and perhaps other states, union leaders plan to use the setback to fire up their members nationwide and mount a major counterattack against Republicans at the ballot box in 2012.
Gosh, about the only thing Bauer's lacking is a bullhorn.
Which side of the Wisconsin battle over public-sector union bargaining does the Associated Press favor? Here's an easy way to tell. A Thursday morning report by Scott Bauer from Madison has this list of quoted people in the story:
1. Protesters (shouting "The whole world is watching!")
2. Sen. Dale Schultz, moderate Republican who voted against Gov. Walker's bill.
Here is how the Associated Press and reporter Scott Bauer headlined and opened their 10:09 p.m. report (saved here at host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) on the Wisconsin Senate's collective bargaining-related vote tonight:
The Wisconsin Senate succeeded in voting Wednesday to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers, after Republicans discovered a way to bypass the chamber's missing Democrats and approve an explosive proposal that has rocked the state and unions nationwide.
The graphic cap below from this post by Ann Althouse, who has been on the scene in Madison frequently during the past few weeks, says it all about the AP's coverage:
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:
The Associated Press's Scott Bauer opened his report ("Wis. lawmakers flee state to block anti-union bill") from Madison, Wisconsin today by completely misrepresenting the nature of the legislation involved in the current standoff:
Faced with a near-certain Republican victory that would end a half-century of collective bargaining for public workers, Wisconsin Democrats retaliated with the only weapon they had left: They fled.
Wow. That's pretty serious. Any reasonable reader of that paragraph would believe that evil Republican Governor Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled legislature aim to end all collective-bargaining rights, break up the Badger State's public-sector unions, and relegate them to the ash heap of history.
But that's not what's at stake, as Bauer himself, after repeating the falsehood in his 34th paragraph, finally revealed what his definition of "elimination" is in Paragraph 36: