MSNBC Papered Over Back-to-Back Court Wins for Gov. Scott Walker on Voter ID, Public Sector Unions

In a classic "bury the news we don't like" maneuver, MSNBC on Thursday rushed through reporting a drubbing of the Left by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, barely allowing viewers to comprehend the news.

As the music began to play before the mid-show hard break for commercial, a time usually reserved for light chatter or a "tease" for a big news report coming after the break, Crystal Ball, the substitute host for "The Reid Report"  took a matter of mere seconds to report two major repudiations of the left.


The Wisconsin Supreme Court by a 5-2 vote upholding Republican Governor Scott Walker’s 2011 law that saved state taxpayers $3 billion by curbing union demands by state employees is a blow to the Left.  That the court also upheld the voter ID law opposed by the left should also be big news to MSNBC, and would leave viewers believe the rushed news item was a tease for a lengthier report coming after the commercial break.   When Crystal Ball returned after the break, viewers still tuned in waiting for the full report were disappointed, as the show droned on with no further coverage of the Wisconsin news.

Had the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued decisions on either or both issues that were a win for the Left, there should be little doubt the MSNBC coverage would have been far more robust. 

After all, MSNBC conducted wall-to-wall pro-union coverage of the union protests in Wisconsin in 2011, and Ed Schultz traveled to the state to do his show during the protests and the ensuing failed recall election of Gov. Walker and other Republican lawmakers in 2012. Schultz was close to tears as he was broadcasting live in Wisconsin as Walker survived the recall election.  The left-wing MSNBC host later repeatedly berated the one-fourth of union members who voted to keep Walker in office.  Given the significant amount of effort and resources the struggling MSNBC gave to the Wisconsin union protests and recall campaign, it should follow that coverage of this defeat by the courts would also be heavily covered.

MSNBC seemed to have recovered part of its left footing within the hour, at least on Rachel Maddow’s blog, referring to the Walker success as “union busting” and the voter ID law “Republican efforts to suppress voting participation through an unnecessary voter ID law.”

The court decisions upholding Gov. Walker’s signature labor law and the GOP-backed voter ID law handed down less than 100 days before Walker’s near-tied re-election race undoubtedly affect the race, likely in Walker’s favor.  As the news broke, MSNBC was, at least temporarily, stunned into near silence.

Cheri Jacobus
Cheri Jacobus
Cheri Jacobus is president of Capitol Strategies PR.