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.
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.]
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.
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.”
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:
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.
In an interview with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge worried about the fallout from budget cutting in Wisconsin: "It seems to look like this governor [Scott Walker] is trying to basically break unions and that other states may then follow suit. Is this – should unions be on alert all around the country?"
Huckabee pointed out: "I think unions have to get realistic. They can't expect to pay $1 in and get $57 from the state as a pension match. Nobody else gets that." Earlier, Wragge expressed skepticism of Governor's Walker's handling of the issue: "...what you've seen...with the workers and the unions versus Governor Scott Walker and the teacher sick outs, do you think this was handled the best way it possibly could have been?" Huckabee defended Walker: "I think he's got to call attention to the fact that this is a serious issue....You can't borrow money that you can't afford to pay back."
CBS on Monday night tried to corroborate the case for the position on protesting Wisconsin state union workers, claiming without citing any source that they earn less than comparable private sector works, while FNC put the union workers in a less oppressed light, showing how “apparent doctors” were “handing out doctor’s notes for sick days. Our undercover producer got a medical excuse, no illness necessary.”
CBS’s Cynthia Bowers touted “high school history teacher Amanda Bazan, of Deerfield Wisconsin,” who “took a personal day to get her students to the protests.” Bazan insisted: “They were learning about democracy firsthand.” Bowers relayed how “the single mom has been teaching 13 years and earns $41,000,” and while “public sector workers in Wisconsin do make slightly more in salary and benefits than the average private sector worker,” that's “because nearly twice as many of them have college degrees necessary for high-skilled jobs.” Without any citation from her or on screen, Bowers maintained:
When education and other factors are considered, two recent studies found public sector employees end up earning less than their counterparts in the private sector. In Wisconsin, nearly five percent less. Nationally seven percent less.
When three-fourths of the Boston police department went on strike in 1919, leading to broken shop windows and looting, then-Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge called out the state militia and broke the strike. Coolidge declared, "There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time."
His courage propelled him to the vice presidency and eventually to the presidency.
"The fate of our country won’t be decided on a battlefield. It will be determined in a classroom." Do you believe that?
Last week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called on 14 state Senate Democrats, who had fled the state instead of voting on a deficit-cutting anti-teachers-union bill, to return and do their jobs. Senate Republicans hold a 19-14 majority there but can't vote on the bill unless at least one Democrat is present.
Does that sound like democracy at work to you? Do you think it’s just a coincidence that the two largest teachers unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, are the largest campaign contributors in the nation -- $55 million in just the past two years, more than the Teamsters, the National Rifle Association or any other organization -- and that 90 percent of those contributions fund only Democratic candidates?
Leave it to "On Faith" to offer a Marxist/left-wing liberation theology twist on the public sector unions protesting Gov. Scott Walker's (R-Wis.) budget plans.
On Saturday the Washington Post/Newsweek online feature published a "Guest Voices" by Wendy Cooper in which the divinity student lamented that middle-class government workers in the Badger State have much in common with the masses in Tahrir Square in Cairo, as well as the ostracized imperial Roman tax collectors of Jesus' day (emphasis mine):
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Monday repeatedly lobbied Wisconsin's Scott Walker to compromise in the budget battle over public employee unions. Arguing that the unions were making reasonable efforts to compromise, he said of the protesters: "They're going to stay out as long as it takes. Are you read to negotiate?"
Repeating union talking points, Stephanopoulos pressed, "...Your critics say this is not about balancing the budget, it's about union busting. And the unions and the Democrats have said they're willing to take the concessions on wage and health benefits."
After Walker argued for the necessity of state workers to contribute to their retirement, Stephanopoulos rebutted, "But, they already said they're willing to give that up. But, Governor, they already said they're willing to give up on the pensions and the health care. They already said that."
In a segment totaling just two and a half minutes on Monday, Good Morning America's Bob Woodruff managed to feature eight clips of pro-union protesters in Wisconsin and only two supporting Scott Walker, the state's Republican governor.
Covering the ongoing battle over whether or not the state will limit collective bargaining for public sector employees, Woodruff appeared quite impressed by the scope of the rallies: "There's going to be protesters coming out here today for the seventh day in a row. It's an amazing weekend. About 70,000 actually showed under here."
The GMA correspondent repeatedly highlighted those on the side of the union and portrayed Scott Walker as inflexible: "Making themselves at home, the protesters say they're prepared to make concessions but the Governor so far is refusing to budge." One demonstrator complained, "We are willing to negotiate. But do not take away our rights."
"The mainstream media was late to the party when it came to covering" the Wisconsin budget protests, Fox Business Network's Stuart Varney noted as he introduced NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell earlier today on the February 21 edition of "Varney & Co."
But are the media now skewing coverage in favor of the perspective of the public sector labor unions, Varney asked.
Most certainly they are, Media Research Center founder Bozell answered.
[Video of the segment and transcript follow the page break]
Discussing the union protests in Wisconsin with political analyst John Dickerson on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge noted: "You talk about this being a potential Tea Party movement for the Left." In response, Dickerson proclaimed: "...this is the energizing moment on the Left, progressives and unions have always been together....It's about the threat to their benefits."
It's interesting that Dickerson made a positive comparison to the Tea Party, given that last year he appeared on the Early Show and described how Democrats hoped the conservative movement would "overreach" and become "a stain on the Republican Party." On Monday, he further explained to Wragge how liberals "were a little dispirited, Barack Obama didn't turn out to be the president they had hoped. Well now they're quite energized and it's not about President Obama anymore."
Last October, ABC’s Christiane Amanpour characterized the Tea Party as “extreme,” declaring “people are looking at the Tea Party and saying this is not conservatism as we knew it but it's extreme.” On Sunday, however, with “People Power” plastered on screen over video of union members in Wisconsin, she saw only a genuine “populist” outpouring of “people power” in Madison.
“This week” she announced in conflating the union grievance in Madison with protests against Arab dictators, “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...in the middle of this country” as “a budget war threatens to shut down the federal government. And now union workers fighting back.”
“On the broadcast tonight, the uprising at home,” teased NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, touting “another day of fury in Wisconsin. Workers angry about what they call a plan to balance the budget on their backs.” Williams set up his Friday newscast by equating the left-wing protests with those against Arab dictatorships: “From the Mideast to the American Midwest tonight, people are rising up. Citizens uprisings are changing the world,” he championed, citing what “we’ve witnessed from Tunisia to Egypt” and now Wisconsin where “the state capitol has been taken over by the people.”
Without ever mentioning the involvement of President Obama’s Organizing for America, reporter John Yang trumpeted from Madison how “tens of thousands of public workers have come here to make their voices heard.” Scolding incivility certainly didn’t interest Yang, who cued up a protester to trash Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker without making any note of the sign he was holding which showed a hammer and sickle below “Scott Stalin.”
ABC and CBS on Friday night, as they did on Thursday night, ignored the instigation by Organizing for America as CBS’s Cynthia Bowers, who never identified anyone as liberal, concluded: “More protests are planned for tomorrow and for the first time conservative activists are calling upon their supporters -- including Tea Party groups -- to hold rallies of their own.”
In the midst of outcry that Wisconsin teachers were skipping school to protest the governor's new budget bill and demand collective bargaining rights, NBC's Norah O'Donnell provided the teachers' motives as an argument for their side. She failed to mention why Wisconsin Gov. Walker cut into their benefits in the first place.
Covering the story on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," O'Donnell remarked that "I know there are some that think this is a travesty for the schoolchildren of that state." She added, however, "But these teachers are talking about their pensions, and they're worried about having to pay more for their health care costs, right?"
The explosive debate has featured voices from the left and right crying about the compensation Wisconsin public employees receive and what they pay in, compared with that of private sector workers. The conservative Heritage Foundation explains that Wisconsin's budget was already in the red, and that state employees enjoy generous benefits that many other citizens don't.
The same networks that assailed the allegedly extreme invective from the Tea Party have, thus far, not found anything interesting about signs implying that Scott Walker, Wisconsin's Republican governor, is a Nazi or a dictator in the style of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak.
On Thursday's newscasts and Friday's Today, Good Morning America and the Early Show, the extreme rhetoric of some of the signs went unremarked. Some of the images, which included pictures of Walker as Adolf Hitler and signs that read "Scott Mubarek [sic]: Get Out," were seen briefly during crowd shots.
But, none of the programs raised any objections to the hateful rhetoric surrounding Wisconsin's plan to reform collective bargaining and force federal workers to pay for part of their retirement.
Welcome to the reckoning. We have met the fiscal apocalypse, and it is smack dab in the middle of the heartland. As Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation. Let us pray it does not go the way of the decrepit welfare states of the European Union.
The lowdown: State government workers in the Badger State pay piddling amounts for generous taxpayer-subsidized health benefits. Faced with a $3.6 billion budget hole and a state constitutional ban on running a deficit, new GOP Gov. Scott Walker wants public unions to pony up a little more. He has proposed raising the public employee share of health insurance premiums from less than 5 percent to 12.4 percent. He is also pushing for state workers to cover half of their pension contributions. To spare taxpayers the soaring costs of Byzantine union-negotiated work rules, he would rein in Big Labor's collective bargaining power to cover only wages unless approved at the ballot box.
Good Morning America on Friday spun the protests in Wisconsin from the perspective of the unions and Democratic lawmakers who oppose Republican efforts to reform collective bargaining. Co-host George Stephanopoulos even interviewed a Democratic lawmaker from a top secret location outside the state.
Correspondent Chris Bury's piece on the protest featured five clips of those protesting the efforts by Republican Governor Scott Walker to make government employees contribute to their retirement plans. He allowed just one in support.
The reporter narrated, "Last night, more public workers, including these firemen, poured into the capitol. Some families camping out overnight, in a last-ditch effort to protest budget cuts they fear would cripple their union rights."
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge attempted to portray Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's efforts to curb costly benefits for public sector unions in his state as purely political: "Your teachers union, which votes Democratic...hit very hard. Yet your police, state trooper, firemen unions, who all supported and endorsed you, did not get touched in any of this. Why is that?" [Audio available here]
In the live interview, Walker quickly dismantled the entire premise of Wragge's attack: "Chris that actually is not true. There are 314 fire and police unions in the state. Four of them endorsed me. All the rest endorsed my opponent." Wragge was undeterred in his follow up question: "But you understand their position with some of the state workers, saying you're essentially taking away their voice by trying to break these unions. You understand that, correct?"
ABC on Thursday night championed a “mutiny in America” by public employees in Wisconsin whom NBC’s Brian Williams trumpeted for “rising up and saying no to some of the most extreme cuts in the nation.” ABC’s Diane Sawyer teased: “Tonight on World News, a mutiny in America. Public workers take to the streets as governors try to cut their pay and perks.” Sawyer framed coverage from the grievance of the unionized workers:
Today, we saw America's money trouble meet a reality, a human reality, as teachers, nurses, tens of thousands of state workers took to the streets in this country protesting cuts by the governors, saying to these governors, a promise is a promise. One lawmaker looked out at the crowds gathered in the Wisconsin capital today said it's like Cairo moved to Madison. [Audio available here]
NBC’s Williams also offered a comparison to “citizen uprisings” overseas: “Tonight after watching citizen uprisings now across the globe for weeks, how about a big one here in the United States.”
Though Governor Scott Walker is merely asking the coddled workers for a slight increase, from six to twelve percent, in the portion of the generous health coverage they must pay, ABC reporter Chris Bury painted it as a dire burden, citing how Walker is “demanding that public employees pay more for their pensions and health care, the equivalent of a seven percent pay cut,” adding that “what really upsets state workers is a budget that strips away nearly all of their union bargaining rights over health care, pensions, and work rules.”
How does the Wisconsin State Journal remember the 40 year anniversary of a radical Ayers-like bombing on the UW-Madison campus? By posting a little puff piece on one of the killers, of course.
On August 24, 1970, Karleton Armstrong and three other men perpetrated the worst act of domestic terrorism prior to the Oklahoma City bombing, detonating a bomb-laden vehicle outside of Sterling Hall, causing extensive damage to 26 buildings, costing $2.1 million in property damage, injuring three, and killing graduate student Robert Fassnacht, a 33-year-old husband and father of three children.
The contrast between an editorial published in the Journal 40 years ago, and the profile of the bombers published this past week, may serve as a case study in how the liberal media has transformed their coverage of domestic terrorists.
Shortly after the attack, a Journal editorial ran hammering down their take on the matter. According to the book, 50 Wisconsin Crimes of the Century, the Wisconsin State Journal called for officials to stop taking a neutral stance on student unrest:
"They've been playing with murder for years. Now they've achieved it... The blood is on the hands of anyone who has encouraged them, anyone who has talked recklessly of ‘revolution', anyone who has chided with mild disparagement the violence of extremists while hinting that the cause is right all the same."
Last week however, that same Wisconsin State Journal did a retrospective piece (h/t Michelle Malkin), profiling each of the bombers and how they were linked to such a tragic moment in history. The profile on Karleton Armstrong strikes a surprisingly pacifist tone:
My hometown of Viroqua, Wisconsin, has become statewide news because a left-wing group called The Alliance for Animals is protesting the annual Wild West Days -- in particular, its popular "Hog Wrasslin" contest. The LaCrosse Tribune had the story:
VIROQUA — A Madison-based animal rights group has taken a public stand against one of the biggest attractions for Viroqua’s Wild West Days — pig wrestling.
The Alliance for Animals wrote organizers of Wild West Days in late May, saying it had conferred with two attorneys who are of the opinion that pig wrestling “is in clear violation of the Wisconsin Statutes.”
The Alliance notes in particular Chapter 951, titled “Crimes Against Animals,” which outlaws cockfighting, dogfighting and any other similar fighting between animals or animals and humans.
This one's a particularly egregious example of party-ID dodging, even for those of us who are used to seeing the establishment media avoid mentioning the political party of almost any disgraced or troubled Democratic public official.
Former Racine, Wisconsin mayor Gary Becker, a Democrat, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for child enticement and attempted sexual assault of a child.