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Signing anti-Walker petition affirms journalists' bias
An investigation reveals 29 sitting circuit court judges in Wisconsin sign a union-driven recall drive targeting Republican Governor Scott Walker. Newspapers and radio-TV news are outraged -- OUTRAGED! -- that jurists put their names to such an overtly political document, showing their utter lack of impartiality -- bias, if you like. Media painstakingly name all 29 judges, city-by-city, and spank them for their partisanship.
New York Post calls them "Cheeseheads in Black Robes." "Not a single one," says the Post editorial, "thinks there's anything ethically improper about being involved in partisan politics..." Judges will be judges What about journalists?
What happens when another inquiry turns up the fact at least Wisconsin 25 journalists in just a single 10-newspaper chain also signed the politically-charged petitions to recall the governor?
Unlike the well-spanked judges, they remain anonymous: Exactly the rank hypocrisy and double standards we expect now, from experience, from the liberal Fourth Estate. No wonder journalism is ranked by the public at the bottom of the public's ethical trash heap, along with used car salespeople and ambulance-pursuing lawyers. (Apologies to the latter two classes, many fine upstanding folks among them.)
To its credit, the Gannett Wisconsin Media Group, with newspapers in cities such as Wausau and Stevens Point, did tell at least the number of its employees, 25, about 10 percent of its 10 reportorial staffs, who signed the "get-Walker" petition. Truth be told, it is likely further inquiry will turn up more birds-of-a-feather journalists who also signed, dutifully toeing the joint Democrat Party-Union line.
With about 200 newspapers in Wisconsin, dailies and weeklies, not counting hundreds electronic journalists, dollars-to-donuts the 25 journalists Gannett identified are just the beginning of the actual number. Scary, yes?
What's depressing about the Gannett case are harebrained excuses put forth, not to justify their unethical actions, so much as to explain them away. Kevin Corrado, president and publisher of the company's flagship Green Bay Press-Gazette, heaps blame upon the heat of the "politically charged" moments in the attacks on Walker, as if exculpatory. Nice try, Kevin. Not buying it.
Corrado offers no apology to the public or to fellow journalists. A cone of silence descends around his 25 anonymous journalists. "Shhh, don't tell," is the byword. Why!, it's a virtual Liberal Self Protection League kicking in. Haven't we seen this before?
"It is little consolation to us, " says Corrado sheepishly it seems, " that none of the editorial employees who signed a petition has any involvement in our news or political coverage or decides how those stories are developed and presented. None of the employees serve on the investigative team [at Gannett]. Had they been directly involved, we would identify them." Trust him.
With no sense of irony, nada, he begins his statement with this line: "In the interest of transparency. . ." Whoops. He (carefully?) omitted the word "full." Those who cry for "open government" close their doors sanctimoniously to ethical lapses among their own kind.
Members of the Newspaper Guild march in lockstep with other unions. (It's that age-old Solidarity thing.) All are parts of a concerted, well-financed, often vicious and lie-laced campaign, led by government unions, to unseat the decisive Gov. Walker and those @#$%& Republicans. In this way, you see, they can reassert unions' primacy at the Capitol in Madison, and reign again over spending taxpayer dollars in wild-ass ways, like feathering their health care and pension nests.
Some petition-signers' excuse as told to Corrodo, apparently with straight faces, was their signing on the trash-Walker documents "was not a political act, but more like casting a vote in an election."
Whew! Recall elections are explicitly political, nothing but political. But we are truly expected to believe this? Well, there's an S word for it. Remember, these are the same turkeys who in their filed news reports described Act 10 in the last legislative session, as "stripping" public employee unions of "collective bargaining rights."
Act 10 did no such thing. Yes, it restricted enumerated "rights" (intentional quotation marks used here) to save their state from spiraling further into deep do-do debt, with further losses of industry, accompanied by more tax hikes. Reporters' slants about "rights" being "stripped" were taken as Gospel in the war against Gov. Walker and his friends out to save Wisconsin from itself. In reality, the same words lazy reporters used in the on-going war came from (you guessed it) union bosses.
Did we say war? One could look it up. See my "The Union War Against Governor Walker" at this site last November for gory details. It's NOT pretty.
More likely, signers of the petition thought their names were safe from any notice. One in a million. Or maybe they expected that, if found out, there would be, as Wisconsin native daughter Greta van Susteren of Fox News describes it, a "cover-up."
Will more journalists be found out? Will they too, be protected by the Self-Protection League? Bias? What bias? As Forrest Gump might say, "liberal media do what liberal media do..." and life, well, it is a box of chocolates; you don't know what you'll get!
Journalists' lack of basic ethics sullies the reputation of their vocation. Their actions in signing to dump a duly-elected governor, stinks. And readers and viewers continue to leave mainstream media in droves, driven to the Internet, or Fox News, for their news. For some, these will become their sole source of information, scary in itself. But distrusted, biased coverage will do that...it will turn folks cynical when realities do not match the reporters' political takes expressed as "news" while the real-deal stuff is consigned to Winston Smith's Memory Hole.
'Tis pity many of today's mainstream journalists, even big names, have become whores, in a manner of speaking, given to partisan slants and now to union-driven recall efforts of reformers. Where will it end?
Larson is a retired newspaper and magazine editor in Minnesota.
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