The Washington Post Sports section on Wednesday turned political with an article headlined "Wisconsin governor fumbles on Twitter: Walker sees collective bargaining in a new light after Packers' loss." Would the Post actually fail to recognize the difference between private-sector unions and public-sector unions, the subject of Walker's reforms? Yes.
Strangely, the author wasn't a sports reporter. It was Brad Plumer, a veteran writer for The New Republic and Mother Jones whose usual Post habitat is Ezra Klein's Wonkblog. In fact, that's where this article is found online. Plumer joked "When it comes to professional football, the usual rules of politics apparently take a timeout."
As the Chicago teachers’ strike continues, let's review what we've learned, no thanks to the broadcast media, which downplayed the story. We know that on average Windy City educators make $71-76,000 a year and they've turned down a 16 percent pay increase, which amounts to $11,360. We know that they contribute only a tiny sliver of their pay, 3 percent, to their retirement package, and we know, because the media keep insisting on this, that teacher evaluations are supposedly the major sticking point in negotiations.
If you tried to get a handle on the showdown between Chicago Public Schools and its teachers' union based on picture captions from the Associated Press, you would think that the teachers' strike has nothing to do with money.
The reality is that Chicago's teachers are, depending on the figures quoted, either the highest-paid cadre of K-12 educators in the nation or so darned close to it that their current demand for a 16% increase over the next four years (down from an original 35%, as Ken Shepherd at NewsBusters noted earlier today) will put them easily 10% ahead of any group of teachers anywhere else in the nation. With that in mind, let's look at the content of the various picture captions I located as I reviewed the wire service's latest strike-related stories.
Reporting from Chicago this afternoon on MSNBC, NBC News reporter Kevin Tibbles described yesterday's teachers union picket lines as "festive" occasions but worried that the mood may sour if an accord is not reached soon.
Yet while other media outlets have reported and confirmed that the Chicago teachers union had requested a 35 percent pay hike, Tibbles completely ignored the issue of pay, insisting the teachers union is concerned most with teacher evaluation policies.
Less than 48 hours from now, Chicago's teachers, whose union head insists, as quoted by the Associated Press, that "we are here to negotiate for better schools in Chicago," may walk off the job, leaving the children entrusted to them to languish in half-days of activities unrelated to learning "staffed by non-union and central office workers."
There seems to be an unwritten rule that news coverage of these matters not discuss the current earnings of those who are threatening to strike. In a writeup of over 900 words, AP writers Tammy Webber and Don Babwin stuck to that script, and also failed to tell their readers the size of the raise union negotiators initially requested. Those two figures follow the jump.
The Politico, in its report on what turned out to be the center-right's "Empty Chair Day," covered the reaction of one prominent member of organized labor to Clint Eastwood's supposedly horrible (if you believe leftist pundits) speech at the Republican National Convention.
If it was really that awful, they would be taking pity on Clint. Instead, they're getting hostile, meaning that the Hollywood Academy Award winner really got under their skin, as seen in an understated report by the online web site's Tim Mak and Juana Summers (bolds are mine througout this post):
Since Mitt Romney is supposedly responsible for the death from cancer of a woman who died in 2006, seven years after the presumptive GOP nominee left Bain Capital, it seems more than fair to talk about what has resulted from the Obama administration's blatant favoritism towards UAW members while shafting former Delphi salaried workers.
Tonight, the Associated Press's Adwatch entry by Stephen Braun actually calls out the Obama super-PAC Priorities USA, specifically saying that the assertion by Joe Soptic, the woman's widower, "that Romney bears some blame in his wife's death is not backed up factually in the ad." Fair enough, but, especially because it was in the news today, let's look at the Delphi situation.
Last night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) I critiqued a short Associated Press item posted earlier Monday by reporter John Hanna which seemed quite alarmed at the notion that "Conservatives in Republicans are turning against moderates in their own party."
Hanna expanded his report on Monday. Its apparently final version, time-stamped at 5:16 p.m. at the AP's national site, goes further into describing those scary conservatives who want Republicans who will act on principle instead of just going along. What follows are excerpts from material added after the initial report:
Donnie Box, a steelworker in Missouri who lost his job and is the focus of an anti-Mitt Romney advertisement being run by a Super PAC that supports President Barack Obama, now says he will not vote to re-elect the president in November.
"I could really care less about Obama," the lifelong Democrat says in an article written by Mike Elk on the In These Times website before criticizing the president as "a jerk, a pantywaist, a lightweight, a blowhard. He hasn’t done a goddamn thing that he said he would do," he complained, adding:
The Jurassic Press is missing much in their reporting on the $50 billion bailout of General Motors (GM). The Press is open channeling for President Barack Obama - allowing him to frame the bailout exactly as he wishes in the 2012 Presidential election.
The President is running in large part on the bailout’s $30+ billion loss, uber-failed “success.” And the Press is acting as his stenographers. An epitome of this bailout nightmare mess is the electric absurdity that is the Chevrolet Volt. The Press is at every turn covering up - rather than covering - the serial failures of President Obama’s signature vehicle.
The AFL-CIO has not been bashful about its support for the Occupy Wall Street protesters. And the union giant recently posted an article by Tula Connell hyping a booklet entitled “Economics 101 for the 99%.” The booklet was produced for the Occupiers by a socialist group called the Center for Popular Economics.
Connell wrote that the booklet will clarify “such concepts as the role of the Federal Reserve and the so-called austerity war.” The booklet is intended to “to help the ‘99%’ make a coherent argument for why we need to change our economic course.”
With its early retirement age and perpetually striking unions, the idea that the average Greek is lazy has a lot of truth to it. But things are not quite as simple as that. In fact, Greeks are a lot more hardworking than you would think. The stereotype is partially true, however:
Last year, Harry Reid said pretty close to the same thing President Obama said on Friday about the health of the nation's private sector. Obama claimed that "The private sector is fine." On the Senate floor on October 19, Reid claimed that "It's very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine."
Don't feel bad if you don't know this, because the press mostly ignored it. The few who did notice it worked mightily to excuse it. One of the chief excusers was Pete Kasperowicz at the Hill:
Wisconsin's reforming Republican Gov. Scott Walker easily turned back a recall attempt by labor activists angry at him for ending collective bargaining for public service unions. But the New York Times, pushing its own agenda, would prefer the story to be about the "stunning amount" of money in politics. The Times and other media have obsessed over the big spending by Walker supporters, which is rather galling considering that it was the left responsible for holding this election in the first place. Also absent: credit to Tea Party activists.
They really outdid themselves. In Wisconsin and across the nation, public school employee unions spared no kiddie human shields in their battle against GOP Gov. Scott Walker's budget and pension reforms. Students were the first and last casualties of the ruthless Big Labor war against fiscal discipline.
To kick off the yearlong protest festivities, the Wisconsin Education Association Council led a massive "sickout" of educators and other government school personnel. The coordinated truancy action — tantamount to an illegal strike — cost taxpayers an estimated $6 million. Left-wing doctors assisted the campaign by supplying fake medical excuse notes to teachers who ditched their public school classrooms to protest Walker's modest package of belt-tightening measures.
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.
If the polls are right, the vote next Tuesday in Wisconsin on whether to recall Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state senators could amount to a redial of their original victory. Voters who first elected the conservative Walker on a promise to fix the state's dismal economy and crushing debt appear ready to reaffirm their judgment.
They would be making the right decision given the results Gov. Walker appears to have produced.
On Sunday's CBS Evening News, John Dickerson candidly admitted that a failed recall attempt of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker "would be a big blow" to the unions, and that it "would be a sign to any Republican contemplating similar action to limit unions that you could survive, and Walker will become the poster child and hero of that effort." Poster child?
Dickerson predicted that there "would be a lot of infighting in Democratic circles, with unions saying the national Democratic parties and their president didn't do enough" if Walker won. But he immediately added a more sunny spin, that "it might galvanize union supporters for the presidential election, on the theory that they're under threat and they need a president who's on their side. "
As one who has made the occasional dumb mistake (which readers tend to be quite adept at catching), I figured I'd give the Associated Press's Todd Richmond and his editors a while to correct a pretty obvious miscue relating to a Wisconsin gubernatorial recall campaign visit by challenger Tom Barrett. In a report whose first version appeared yesterday morning and currently has a 2:42 p.m. Saturday time stamp, Richmond wrote that Barrett's campaign Saturday started "with the Barron County Dairy Breakfast in Hillsdale, a burg of 1,250 people about 90 miles west of Minneapolis." Well Todd, if Barrett actually was 90 miles west of the Twin Cities, he would not have been in Wisconsin; he would have been about halfway between Minneapolis and the North Dakota border. (Hillsdale, Wisconsin is really about 90 miles east of Minneapolis.)
On more substantive matters, Richmond, with the help of an agenda-driven headline ("Wis. governor works to meet voters before recall"), portrayed Walker as an awkward in-person campaigner, someone not instantly recognized by many people who have lives outside of poltics (imagine that) and, of course (while not mentioning union and leftist spending at all) as a beneficiary of "a jaw-dropping $31 million in campaign cash." He also wrote that polls show the race as close while failing to note that Walker leads in either every one or nearly every one. The relevant paragraphs from Richmond's report are after the jump (bolds are mine):
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):
The real class warfare in this country isn't rich vs. poor, it's government employees vs. we, the taxpayers, who pay their salaries.
Working for the government is supposed to be a trade-off: You can't be fired and don't have to exert yourself, but you will receive smaller remuneration than in the private sector, where layoffs are common (especially in the Obama economy!). Instead, government jobs are safe, secure, pressure-free -- and now, amazingly lucrative!
Whether it's in Wisconsin, Illinois, California or the nation's capital, today's public sector workers expect to do little or no work (I'm not counting partying in Las Vegas as "work"), and then be lavishly compensated. Often, the only heavy lifting they do all week is picking up their paychecks.
The news is that an Indiana union has expanded the scope of an already-filed lawsuit by claiming that the Hoosier State's recently enacted right to work law violates the Thirteenth Amendment's prohibition against slavery because it forces unions to work beside and negotiate on behalf of workers who are no longer required to pay union dues to keep their jobs. Based on the related articles' time stamps, it appears that the Daily Caller's David Martosko was first with the story very early Sunday morning, so I will excerpt from its coverage (apologies if I am incorrect; bolds are mine):
Stop the presses: Big-spending Democrats are finally up in arms over a federal boondoggle. Details of the U.S. General Services Administration bacchanalia get worse by the day. We've graduated from overpriced breakfasts in Vegas, friends-and-family junkets galore and in-house videos mocking their own profligacy to extravagant bonuses, alleged kickbacks, obstructionism and bribes.
But the scandal is still small potatoes compared to the potential billions GSA is pouring down the Big Labor drain.
On Thursday's Morning Edition, NPR's Peter Overby slanted towards a left-wing coalition targeting the conservative group ALEC. Overby trumpeted how Coke and Pepsi succumbed to pressure from the "campaign to put a spotlight on companies that sell products to a public that might object to hardline conservative policies, such as 'stand your ground' laws or requirements that voters show a photo I.D."
The correspondent featured representatives from two of the groups in the coalition- ColorOfChange and Common Cause- and labeled them as a "civil rights group" and a "good government group" respectively. He also made only one passing reference to their political ideology- that they were part of "progressive groups and shareholder activists."