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:
The folks at MSNBC should be deeply embarrassed and ashamed of their prime time commentator Rachel Maddow.
Having been exposed by Politifact for lying last week about Wisconsin having a budget surplus, Maddow on Thursday hypocritically defended herself by playing nine cherry-picked words from the broadcast in question while disgracefully calling her critics homophobes (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Tuesday’s NewsBusters’ piece documenting the broadcast networks’ incredible double standard on protests — how reporters zeroed in on inflammatory signs to try and discredit the Tea Party while ignoring similar or worse signs at the left-wing union protests in Wisconsin — garnered national media attention.
On Tuesday evening, nationally-syndicated radio host Mark Levin cited the NewsBusters’ study as proving how the media “are a disgrace, absolute disgrace. You did everything you could to trash the Tea Party movement, and you do everything you can right now to protect the vulgarity and poison of the Left and the thugs in Madison, Wisconsin.” (Full transcript and audio link below.)
On Thursday night, during the “Grapevine” segment of FNC’s Special Report, anchor Bret Baier led off with our study (video and transcript below the fold):
Ed Schultz is a firm believer in the law. Most of the time.
On his radio show yesterday, Schultz demonstrated how he's willing to be flexible when it comes to legalities, especially if it helps those sharing his politics.
Schultz was talking with Democratic state senator Jon Erpenbach, one of the so-called "Wisconsin 14" who have fled the state to avoid voting on what they consider union-busting measures in Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget. After Schultz asked how the absent lawmakers were covering their expenses and Erpenbach said they were paying out of pocket, Schultz suggested this (audio here) --
While NBC was quick to cover a prank phone call to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by a left-wing website on Wednesday, it did not give one word of reporting to a video sting earlier this month that showed Planned Parenthood employees agreeing to abortions for hypothetical underage girls involved in sex trafficking.
Wednesday's NBC Nightly News featured a report by correspondent Michael Isikoff, who argued that the prank call on Walker "provided his critics with evidence that his real motivation is what they've been saying all along, to crush public unions." On Thursday's Today, news reader Natalie Morales similarly declared: "Wisconsin Democrats say a recording of a prank call to Governor Scott Walker is proof that he plans to crush public worker unions."
"It's like they have the same writer!" Fox News' Sean Hannity marveled after watching a montage of liberal journalists comparing the labor union protests in Madison, Wisconsin, with the anti-Mubarak demonstrations weeks ago in Cairo.
"Sean, this is really goofy. These reporters should be embarrassed," NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell agreed on last night's "Hannity."
"If you want to find a comparison, I'll give you a comparison. What do Mubarak, Qadhafi, and the Democratic legislators have in common?" the Media Research Center founder asked Hannity, answering with the punchline, "They're all in hiding."
Paul Krugman’s New York Times column for Friday, “Shock Doctrine, U.S.A.,” used for both headline and text fodder a book of far-left paranoid propaganda by Naomi Klein to push Krugman’s pet idea: That Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker is trying to make a “power grab” in order “to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy.”
Here’s a thought: maybe Madison, Wis., isn’t Cairo after all. Maybe it’s Baghdad -- specifically, Baghdad in 2003, when the Bush administration put Iraq under the rule of officials chosen for loyalty and political reliability rather than experience and competence.
The story of the privatization-obsessed Coalition Provisional Authority was the centerpiece of Naomi Klein’s best-selling book “The Shock Doctrine,” which argued that it was part of a broader pattern. From Chile in the 1970s onward, she suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.
Which brings us to Wisconsin 2011, where the shock doctrine is on full display.
The hatred of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker continues in the fever swamps of the Daily Kos. The blogger "Patience John" posted an article Wednesday headlined "Walkercide: Killing the American Dream for Corporate Paymasters." Try not to pay attention to the mangled syntax: that "Walkercide" sounds like a plot to kill the governor, not the other way around, or that the headline suggests a plot to kill the dreams of corporate paymasters. As usual among Kosmonauts, the capitalists plot to build a class of wage-slave peasants:
The elite never want the American worker to realize that the workers generate all the wealth of our republic, and this new corporate aristocracy just feeds off it.
They have a plan.
It is called Walkercide, and it is meant to kill the last of the good American jobs. [Emphasis his.]
Since lefty blogger Ian Murphy prank called Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on Wednesday, various media outlets have devoted significant coverage to the prankster. None have seen fit to mention some of Murphy's more colorful antics - proclaiming "f**k the troops," for instance, or pretending to be autistic to gain access for a story.
CNN has been out front covering the prank and its perpetrator. The channel named Murphy its "most intriguing person of the day" in one segment, and devoted an article on its website to Murphy's wild claims - that Walker is "delusional," as CNN's headline blared, and that market economics amounts to a "fairy tale."
In reaching out to Murphy for comment, however, CNN did not see fit to ask him - or even mention in its multiple stories about the prank - that he is not just a "liberal website editor," but is in fact a radical, foaming-at-the-mouth leftist whose work includes fantasies about killing prominent Republicans and other far-left memes popular during the Bush years.
On Thursday's Newsroom, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux announced that Ian Murphy, the blogger who prank-called Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by pretending to be billionaire David Koch, was her network's "Most Intriguing Person of the Day." Murphy is the latest liberal hero to receive this designation from CNN.
Malveaux devoted a half-minute segment 21 minutes into the 11 am Eastern hour to the blogger from BuffaloBeast.com, a site co-founded by left-wing Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi:
On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Michael Isikoff claimed a prank phone call on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker "provided his critics with evidence that his real motivation is what they've been saying all along, to crush public unions." On Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill declared the "embarrassing" call revealed Walker's "plan for putting pressure on the big unions."
Isikoff suggested that Walker's private phone conversation with Ian Murphy of the left-wing Buffalo Beast website (who was pretending to be billionaire donor David Koch) ran counter to the Wisconsin Governor's public statements on his budget-cutting proposal: "Publicly, Governor Scott Walker has insisted the standoff over union rights in Wisconsin is all about saving money." On the Early Show, correspondent Dean Reynolds proclaimed: "Walker is heard discussing strategy to force Democratic senators to return to Wisconsin and vote. In another exchange, he tells of plans to punish state workers with layoffs."
Wednesday's nightly newscasts and Thursday's morning shows completely ignored video of a Massachusetts congressman exhorting union protesters in Wisconsin to "get a little bloody" in the fight against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today and CBS's Early Show all skipped the extreme rhetoric by Democratic Representative Michael Capuano. Fox News on Wednesday and Thursday did cover the remarks.
[See video below of Capuano on Thursday's Fox and Friends. MP3 audio here.]
As NewsBusters previously reported, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Tuesday told a staggering amount of nonsense to "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno concerning what's going on in Wisconsin with the unions and Tea Partiers.
After some additional investigation, it turns out the juiciest whopper of all came a few minutes earlier when she totally misrepresented Republican and Democrat political contributions in the previous elections (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Looks like yet another left-winger missed the meme on the New Civility.
Attorney and "Ring of Fire" radio show co-host Mike Papantonio, guest-hosting on Ed Schultz's radio program yesterday, revealed two things -- he hates old people and wants tea party retirees to hurry up and die.
Don't take my word for it, listen to Papantonio's remarks after a caller said he saw "one of these baggers" push a woman during dueling protests over the weekend in Madison, Wisc. (audio here)-
James Taranto could be the best columnist around. Every day at his Best of the Web at the Wall Street Journal online, Taranto turns out an original, often unconventional, conservative take on the news, regularly managing to leaven the message with humor.
Rush today rightly extolled Taranto's column of yesterday, in which he made the point that there is a vast, inherent difference between private and public sector unions. In the former case, unions are negotiating against corporate interests. In the latter, unions are, by definition, organizing against the interests of the public itself.
Surely even Cenk Uygur understands this. So when Cenk suggests, as he did on his MSNBC show this evening, that without unions public employees would be "at the mercy" of "corporate executives," it seems fair to accuse him of . . . fraud.
First lady Michelle Obama said, "Let's Move!" Who knew Democratic politicians in Wisconsin and Indiana would take her literally?
Faced with stifling debt, bloated pensions and intractable government unions, liberal Midwestern legislators have fled those states — paralyzing Republican fiscal reform efforts. Like Monty Python's Brave Sir Robin and his band of quivering knights, these elected officials have only one plan when confronted with political hardship or economic peril: Run away, run away, run away.
Last Monday, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman ironically asked his readers why voters are so ill-informed.
Eight days later, MSNBC's resident Rhodes scholar Rachel Maddow, while chatting with the "Tonight Show's" Jay Leno about what's going on in Wisconsin, demonstrated perfectly why so many in our country have little factual knowledge of current events (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Reporters also portrayed this as a national union issue, but mostly failed to point out the national problem of pension underfunding.
Actually, the battle is the result of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's attempts to balance the state budget by asking roughly 300,000 state employees to contribute more to their pension funds and health insurance and give up the ability to negotiate more than their wages. According to CNNMoney, the state faces a $3.6 billion budget deficit.
Only 1 out of 24 network evening stories about the Wisconsin "feud" since Feb. 16, reported a critical number relating to union pensions: $1 trillion. That's the huge deficit facing public workers' pensions in America and the reason Walker and other state governors are facing tough choices including demanding public workers contribute more.
Curse those wascally Wepublicans in Wisconsin, you'll never believe what they're up to now.
Bad enough for the Badger State GOP to abet Gov. Scott Walker in his nefarious scheme to prevent public-sector unions from bankrupting the state. Worse, they are hatching even more diabolical plots while Dem state senators continue their courageous evasion of the law to avoid voting on Walker's proposal.
Here are the sordid details, as ferreted out by ace ferret-outer Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show Monday night (video after page break) --
The battle in Madison, Wisconsin between new Gov. Scott Walker and the public-sector union hacks offers an amazing study in journalistic double standards. The same national media that have spent the last two years drawing devil’s horns and Klan hoods on the Tea Party protesters have switched sides with lightning speed. In the Wisconsin protesters, they find sweetness and light, “hope and change.”
From her Sunday soapbox, ABC host Christiane Amanpour snobbishly deplored the Tea Party as not conservative, but “extreme” last fall. In a special “town hall” episode of her show on the Ground Zero mosque debate, she accused an incredulous Gary Bauer of encouraging vandalism at a Tennessee mosque because somehow, Christian rhetoric is offensive. The accusation itself was offensive because it was entirely baseless.
Yet in Wisconsin, the exact opposite happened. Amanpour took the extreme, vicious, and wholly offensive signs comparing Gov. Walker to Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak – and embraced them as geopolitically accurate: “People power, making history: A revolt in the Midwest, and a revolution sweeping across the Middle East.” She touted how “populist frustration is boiling over this week.”
"Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski and regular guest John Heilemann both pulled the class warfare card and pressured Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) Tuesday on why he did not raise taxes on the wealthy to cover the state's budget shortfall, rather than pushing to require union members pay into their pensions.
"You're receiving a lot of criticism for only asking the other side to give, and they have given – on health care and pensions. Are you asking people in your state across the board, including the wealthiest, to give, to help deal with the crisis....and I mean tax increases for the wealthy, or in any way, has anyone else been asked to give?" Brzezinski pressed Walker.
Following up on Brzezinski's question, New York Magazine columnist John Heilemann asked Walker why he cut the corporate income tax rate and chose to go after unions – but Walker corrected him. "We didn't cut corporate taxes," he answered.
On CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday, host Bob Schieffer interviewed Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan and compared union protests in that state to the democracy movements spreading across the Middle East: "There are also reports that this could spread to at least nine other states....Is Madison, Wisconsin, Congressman, the Tunisia of American politics now?"
At the top of the broadcast, Schieffer declared "protests at home and abroad" and moments later, he touted the size and duration of the demonstrations in Wisconsin: "For the fourth day in a row and in the largest turnout yet, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets again in Madison, Wisconsin as they marched to protest major cuts in state spending. The question is, will the protests spread to other states where similar proposals to cut spending are also being contemplated?"
The liberal media have virtually ignored the scandal of medical doctors handing out fraudulent sick notes to labor union protesters in Madison, Wisconsin, NewsBusters senior editor Tim Graham noted on yesterday's "Your World with Neil Cavuto."
What's more, while the media have been quick to portray Wisconsin public sector employees as victims, media outlets have ignored the perspective of parents who have been inconvenienced by the teachers' sick-out, the Media Research Center director of media analysis told substitute host Stuart Varney:
On MSNBC's "Jansing & Co." Tuesday, liberal journalist Carl Bernstein criticized the continued stance of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) against the right of public unions to collectively bargain. The liberal Watergate journalistic "legend" labeled the governor's efforts as "ahistorical" and "demagogic."
When the governor cut into benefits and pensions of state employees to solve a budget shortfall, union members and supporters of their cause took to the streets of the state capital. Later they were willing to compromise on the amount they had to pay for their benefits, but they demanded to keep their collective bargaining ability. The governor was not willing to cut that deal.
Bernstein said Gov. Walker's move went beyond his own prudence, calling it a "very political, demagogic move by a governor who knows that the Democratic Party subsists to some extent on union contributions." He even called out conservatives for making too many issues into partisan battles.
Loud protests by Wisconsin public employee unions against a budget reform proposal from new Governor Scott Walker have drawn considerable national network news attention since Thursday, the day Democratic state senators fled the state in a last-ditch gambit to prevent the bill from becoming law. A story-by-story analysis by the Media Research Center shows the Wisconsin protests are a perfect case study in the media’s longstanding double standard favoring left-wing causes while demonstrating much more hostility to the Tea Party and conservative protest.
Last March, as thousands protested on Capitol Hill in the days before the passage of ObamaCare, CBS’s Nancy Cordes slammed it as “a weekend filled with incivility,” while World News anchor Diane Sawyer painted the Tea Party as a violent gang, with “protesters roaming Washington, some of them increasingly emotional, yelling slurs and epithets.” In August 2009, ABC anchor Charles Gibson complained how “protesters brought pictures of President Obama with a Hitler-style mustache to a town hall meeting,” failing to mention that the signs were produced by Lyndon LaRouche’s wacky fringe movement, not the Tea Party or conservatives.
While the mainstream media finds it tolerable to compare Gov. Scott Walker to Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, the bloggers at Daily Kos can always stretch the slander further. The blogger "Dengre" finds Walker and his conservative ilk are quite similar to Confederate slave holders:
What thing becomes clear--as you consider the modern Republican Confederate Party's effort to attack workers, Unions, the Middle Class and their rights--is that their focus is all about the theft of labor. Stealing the labor of folks is a sure fire way to get rich and it has been since, well, forever. Fighting efforts to protect people from the theft of their labor is what the modern so-called Conservative and/or Gliberterian movements are all about.
On the February 22 edition of "American Morning," CNN's Carol Costello framed the ongoing budget debate in Wisconsin as a struggle between embattled middle class workers and corporatist Republicans with ulterior motives, parroting SEIU President Mary Kay Henry to warn viewers that "corporate America is about to win big time."
"Henry says corporate America save themselves money in wages by lining the pockets of Republicans running for statewide offices," regurgitated Costello. "According to followthemoney.org, in the 2009-2010 election cycle, business interests donated $878 million to candidates running for governor and other statewide offices across the country, that includes hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio."
While those figures are not in dispute, Costello failed to hold Democrats and their Big Labor financiers to a similar standard: "And Democrats say there is another reason Republicans want to gut unions. Organized labor donates hundreds of millions of dollars to candidates like Barack Obama. So if you weaken the unions, you weaken a traditional moneyed supporter of the Democratic Party."
Nothing more cogently demonstrated the left's apparent strategy in Madison, Wisconsin thus far than a group of pro-union demonstrators silencing a Fox News report on a budding scandal there with cries demanding that Fox "tell the truth." Demonstrators, and much of the left over the past week, were unconcerned with the content of Fox's report. The fact that Fox was doing the reporting meant that the truth was not being told.
Fox was attempting to interview the president of the MacIver Institute, a free market think tank based in Wisconsin, which had reported two days earlier that doctors were writing sick notes for union demonstrators in Madison so they could get out of work and attend the protests (check out video of the protesters below the break).