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Walker Gains in Wisconsin: NYT Shields Readers From Distressing News

The New York Times has a long piece on the political situation in Wisconsin this morning, and in some ways it is reasonably balanced. The reporters note, for example, that the Koch brothers own a factory in Wisconsin that is unionized and that the union and management at the factory seem to have a reasonably productive relationship. It also gives controversial Governor Scott Walker some space to contest the arguments of his detractors.

Even so, it is a journalistic disaster: it tells you everything you need to know except the one thing you really need to know, and it reveals the soft pale underbelly of establishment journalism in America today.

The headline captures the focus of the piece: “Recall Election Tests Strategies For November.” The reporters look at how private and public sector unions on the one side and various conservative organizations on the other are organizing for the election over the petition to recall Governor Scott Walker and at how both sides think the issues and strategies shaping the recall will influence the outcome in November.

The piece does a reasonable job at getting the views of both sides, but no reader of the Times will be surprised to see that it wears its heart on its sleeve. The piece closes with a paean to the hope that labor will beat back the Republican challenge, calculated to warm the hearts of the NYT faithful:

However, labor leaders say the moves have reinvigorated members, prompting a beefing up of political operations. This contributed to the repeal, in a referendum last year, of an Ohio law limiting bargaining rights, has fueled the recall effort in Wisconsin, and, unions hope, will lead to Democratic success in November.

Nearly all of the larger confrontations have taken place in presidential battlegrounds, not only Wisconsin and Ohio, but also states like Florida, Michigan and New Hampshire.

“These state fights are a jump-start to get people engaged,” said Brandon Davis, political director for the Service Employees International Union. “We’re confident that if we get turnout to vote in municipal elections, they will also vote our way in national elections.”

Bob Kelley, a retired union carpenter, agreed as he hammered together a partition for a new call center in Madison. “If you’re where somebody throws down a gauntlet and attacks, what are you going to do?” he said, referring to Mr. Walker. “Maybe he did us a favor.”

Perhaps Bob Kelley is right, and Governor Walker did the unions a favor; Via Meadia has suggested that in both Wisconsin and Ohio a more narrowly focused, better thought through, less confrontational approach could have made the necessary reforms with a lot less trouble and polarization.

But somehow the reporters and editors who put together this long story on the implications of the Wisconsin recall for American politics now and in November failed to take note of one tiny little fact: Governor Walker is increasingly favored to win the June recalll.

Intrade, a site where people can in effect bet on political races, shows Walker with a 68.5 percent chance of re-election as of Sunday morning. (By contrast, President Obama has only a 59.7 percent shot at a second term.) Recent polls on the race show Walker ahead, though the race is close and volatile — and the dynamics may change once the Democrats pick a nominee. None of this appears in this article.

Forget accusations of media bias and ideological agendas: this is a collapse of basic news judgment. On this issue at least, readers who rely on the New York Times to tell them what’s happening in the country — don’t know what’s happening in the country. They genuinely don’t know that in Wisconsin this all out mobilization by both sides on a polarizing question is, tentatively and certainly not irreversibly, but noticeably and to a certain degree increasingly… breaking Walker’s way.

Sometimes I wonder if the Times hasn’t been infiltrated by a group of stealth conservatives, a sleeper cell dedicated to making the left stupid and ineffectual. For liberals to be basking in a dream world in which OWS is effective and unions are fighting back and winning in Wisconsin is exactly what conservatives want. Look how it worked on Obamacare: not a serious liberal in the country thought the individual mandate could possibly be thought unconstitutional until, quite horribly, the Supreme Court justices started asking all those questions that the press had done its best to ignore.

Perhaps the individual mandate will survive Supreme Court review; perhaps Scott Walker will go down in June. Via Meadia doesn’t know; but we do know that on these and some other matters, readers of the New York Times rather routinely miss out on the real stories shaping American life.

 

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  • Anthony

    WRM, didn’t you recently write legacy media is fascinated with itself; does above Quick Take serve as current illustration?

  • Kenny

    Those who rely on the NY Times for their news have been clueless for decades.

  • http://thepencilofnature.net Lorenz Gude

    Yes, the NY Times is the perfect Matrix for its readers. All the news except what you need to know. A perfect, transparent window on reality – until you swallow the Blue Pill. A pity to ruin the memory of those glorious Sundays on the veranda with the Times.

    I started reading it in 1956 and my father said the Times is the best paper we have in part because it often carries transcripts of speeches and the like. “Always read the transcripts” my father advised, “not just the articles about the item.” Liberals in those days, and my father was one through and through, had a fierce desire to discover the truth. Now they don’t want to know because their Blue world is slowly collapsing. The New York Times has become the opiate of the intelligentsia.

  • http://facingzionwards.blogspot.com/ Luke Lea

    @ “The piece does a reasonable job at getting the views of both sides, but no reader of the Times will be surprised to see that it wears its heart on its sleeve.”

    Before he purchased NYT Adolph Ochs founded the Chattanooga Times, here in my hometown, whose motto was “Without fear or favor.” The parent company finally sold that paper a few years ago to Republican owners along with the right to the motto, though the present owners have not seen fit to use it. I suggest NYT repurchase the rights to “Without fear of favor” and retire their present motto, “All the news that is fit to print,” whose shortcoming it wears on its sleeve.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Leftists don’t want the Truth, they can’t handle the Truth, that’s why they read the New York Times, so they can stay in their nice comfortable cocoon. It’s why reality comes all “Unexpectedly” to the left.

  • John

    >>> For liberals to be basking in a dream world in which OWS is effective and unions are fighting back and winning in Wisconsin is exactly what conservatives want

    That’s the best thing about blindly partisian media coverage: they believe their own bullshit.

    They simply think that believing something makes it true; like there’s no longer snow at the north pole or paying 15 year old unwed girls to have babies and sit at home “helps” the minority community.

    Eventually people realize it’s a lie and just stop believing anything the media has to say. Thus, their poll numbers.

  • Richard S

    Part of the reason why the Times hates Citizens United is that it weakens the power and importance of the Times.

    Part of the reason why the Times skews union coverage to the pro-union side is that it is a unionized newspaper.

    Part of the reason why the Times does not give a more thoughtful presentation of what’s happening is that it would get its readership angry, risking a reduction of circulation.

    And the Sulzbergers are pretty far Left. Pinch, the current Sulzberger in chief, reflects the views of the liberal Episcopalian Church/ Eastern prep school/ college Establishment in which he was raised.

  • dr kill

    I’m pretty sure that beating the Clintons with Obama was a devious plan on someone’s part. And maybe getting Obama elected President was too. Certainly, anyone who would have been the 43rd Pres would have been a one -termer like Obama. Why not sacrifice a silly poseur like Obama?

  • Mark Michael

    I check the MacIver Institute’s website weekly to get the conservative side of things in Wisconsin. A story there:

    http://maciverinstitute.com/2012/04/reactions-to-act-10-results-news-split-down-partisan-lines/

    SOME EXCERPTS:

    Reactions to Act 10 Results News Split Down Partisan Lines
    Act 10 Savings of $1 Billion Draws Expected Mixed Reaction
    MacIver News Service | April 24, 2012

    “The reforms we passed this session mean more money will go directly into the classrooms,” said State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills). “Before the hands of school districts were tied with locked-in costs that kept going up and up. Now there is flexibility to save money and put school children first.”

    […]

    “These savings kept teachers in the classroom and helped avoid layoffs in other local and state agencies,” said State Rep. Mary Williams (R-Medford). “All this was done without raising taxes. Property taxes for the median family home went down on average for the first time in over a decade thanks to our sound fiscal approach.”

    “Gov. Walker cut over $1 billion from public education, handed out billions in new corporate tax breaks and Wisconsin has the worst jobs record in the country,” said former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. “It’s why one million people signed the recall petitions against him and why I’ve built the grassroots big tent that will defeat him.”

    […]

    Barrett and Falk are the leading Democratic contenders to face Walker in the June 5th General Election. Their Primary is May 8th.

    The Republicans trumpeted the results and the Governor’s Democratic opponents downplayed them and tried to change the subject. What about the legislature’s lone Independent?

    “In 2010 prior to Act 10, Manitowoc County was cutting back on services, and laying off employees in the face of unsustainable growth in personnel costs,” said State Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer (I-Manitowoc) who is also the Manitowoc County Executive.

    Ziegelbauer served in the legislature as a Democratic state representative from 1992 to 2010 when he ran as an Independent.

    “Since Act 10 these savings allow Manitowoc County to re-staff and reinforce, saving jobs; hold the line on property taxes while continuing to deliver high quality services; and provide stable career opportunities for employees into the future,” said Ziegelbauer, who will retire from the legislature at the end of the year.

    Another MacIver story:

    http://maciverinstitute.com/2012/04/oconomowoc-presses-forward-with-reforms-to-restructure-staff-pay-teachers-more-in-high-school/

    EXCERPTS:

    The Oconomowoc Area School District unveiled a plan Tuesday that would make drastic changes to how their local high school operates. Their goal? Cutting staff to retain good teachers, paying these good teachers more for their added workload, and keeping educational offerings and class sizes the same while saving half a million dollars.

    The school board presented a plan that would reduce the Oconomowoc High School’s full-time teaching staff from 75 to 60 members while increasing the salaries of the remaining educators through stipends. This proposed change would save the district an estimated $500,000 in the coming year. The dramatic reform would be the first of its kind in Wisconsin, and would be made possible by the collective bargaining limits imposed by Act 10 in 2011.

    […]

    Will the reforms in Oconomowoc ultimately be successful? Time will tell. However, what we do know is that, because of recent changes to state public employee labor law, the district has more freedom than ever before to institute significant reforms. We also know that the district will have the ability to reduce and promote their staff based on merit rather than experience now that collective bargaining and tenure issues have been quelled in the state’s public schools.

    Oconomowoc is pressing forward with a plan that saves money that can be poured back into the classroom without affecting the courses offered to its students. The district is taking advantage of its newfound autonomy to work on a system that emphasizes efficient education while offering greater compensation for the teachers who work the hardest. While cutting staff at any school is a difficult task, the steps that Oconomowoc High School is taking appear to hold a significant positive impact for students and the teachers who remain. It’s a bold plan – but one that could ultimately improve education for students across the district.

  • Andrew Allison

    That wasn’t by any means to only piece of slanted reporting from NYT this weekend. The big story, widely picked up, was how Apple has (legally) avoided paying taxes. If one assumes that the Editors are not complete ignorami unfamiliar with, e.g. Judge Lerned Hand’s famous opinion that, “”Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the
    treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.” one must also assume that they are intentionally trying to mislead.

  • Vinny B.

    You are just mad because The Washington Times has about 300 readers and there are no other conservative papers in the country because no one wants to read what Goebbels’ disciples are putting out. Obama will be re-elected and Walker will be gone. If Obama loses, then we will know that widespread fraud bankrolled by Rupert Murdoch, the Koch Brothers, Halliburton, and Big Oil will have taken place. No one I know is voting for that bigoted cult member Romney.

  • Russ

    In the immortal words of Nostromo 421’s 2IC, “Have IQs dropped sharply while I was away?”

    Liberals have simply forgotten how to debate (nota bene: not “argue,” “rant,” or “inveigh”), and that’s not good for ANYbody.

    Unless, of course, you’re running against them?

  • Corlyss

    “Forget accusations of media bias and ideological agendas: this is a collapse of basic news judgment.”

    Aren’t those two things actually one in the same? What is outright media bias in news stories except collapse of basic news judgment? CSJ has turned into a “puppy mill” for journalists trained in advocacy journalism and intent on discrediting every Republican or conservative office holder as a racist bigot homophobic philanderer. That’s because the schools of journalism are just as corrupt as the reporters and editors.

  • teapartydoc

    The NYT is actually based in 1930’s Berlin.

  • http://paterzplace.blogspot.com DonM

    Apple choses to pay taxes to lawyers, accoutants, and lobbyists, as they demand less than governments. If governments lowered their tax rates, there would be less incentive to pay lawyers, accountants and lobbyists, and the government tax income would increase.

  • Yahzooman

    A cocoon it is.

    We’re all familiar with the keen Kael quote, a perfect example of the bizarrely naive quality of hermetic liberal provincialism … New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael: “I can’t believe Nixon won. I don’t know anyone who voted for him.”

    Reportedly, she also said: “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”

    Scary, huh?

    The bi-coastal elites do, indeed, live in a special world. On the morning of Wednesday, November 7, 2012, I think there will be a number of Pauline Kael type quotes about not knowing anyone who voted for president-elect Romney.

  • Tom Poole

    Governor Walker should win this in a walk, his changes have been proven and if the people of Wi. turn bim out they will deserve the bankruptcy they will get.
    Here in Ohio, Gov. Kasich lost his battle to clean up the cesspool that the “public service” unions present because. The teachers and firefighters worked very hard and lied, but they won. This week the cleveland Teachers were told there will be 500 layoffs coming. The firefighters are under investigation for massive fraud in pay for hours not worked and one has al;ready been indicted under criminal statuates.
    The investigation was ongoing before the election, but the union, and the (then) county government were able to keep it out of the news until after the issue was defeated.
    I suspect Wi. might see some of the same stuff going on now, but McGiver has to do the reporting or they will get away with it.

  • kim

    All the News That’s Left to Print.
    ===================

  • Will Hayes

    The operating mantra of the Democratic party has been clear, for at least my life time: repeat insane statements loudly and often until the stupid American people/world community believe them. All women are victims. All minorities are victims. The only nonvictim is the racist and sexist white male. Any slight reduction in federal spending is a heartless abandonment of any hope at a solution. Et cetera, literally ad nauseum.

  • Fred

    Vinny, Very funny. You had me going until the last line (the paraphrase of the famous line aboutthe 1972 election attributed to Pauline Kael).

  • richard40

    “Sometimes I wonder if the Times hasn’t been infiltrated by a group of stealth conservatives, a sleeper cell dedicated to making the left stupid and ineffectual. For liberals to be basking in a dream world in which OWS is effective and unions are fighting back and winning in Wisconsin is exactly what conservatives want. ”

    I would love to think that conservatives are that smart, but they aren’t. And more importantly, the leftists are that dumb, fortunately for us conservatives. Their leftist echo chamber is so closed to reality that they will always be surprised by their constant faillure.

    Conservatives, being more exposed to opposing views outside the conservative echo chamber, because of dem control of media, academia, and hollywood, are less likely to be surprised by those views and their possible success. Most conservatives knew that 2006 and 2008 would be bad years, while leftists were shocked by 2010, and are likely to be shocked again by 2012. We are fortunate that leftists have this ignorant blind spot, since it makes it much harder for them to fight us, despite their control of media and academia.

  • http://www.battleswarmblog.com Lawrence Person

    Ix-nay on the uth-tra!

    The comforting reality bubble the The New York Times cocoons its liberal readers is one of the greatest strategic advantages conservatives have in the modern mediascape. We need to keep it that way until at least early November…

  • Political Fodder

    You are delusional. I live in WI and we have effectively neutered Walker for now and we will replace him in June along with a couple more Senators. Unless the John Doe investigation results in his arrest first. A perp walk for Walkewould also suit me just fine as we have also successfully collected enough signatures to recall his lieutenant governor as well. FYI This is not just about the unions.

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