Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Fallout For Walker's Supporters, Er, Wisconsin Reporter

Last week, I pointed out to the relationship between the propagandist organization that euphemistically calls itself Wisconsin Reporter and Scott Walker fund raisers and campaign consultants.

The very next day, Wisconsin Reporter experienced some fall out due to this revelation, when the Democratic Party of Wisconsin issued a scathing letter to papers and other news media around the state asking them to be conscious of exactly who and what they are citing when they use anything from this group of campaign staffers in disguise.

Today, Erik Gunn, author of Pressroom Buzz for Milwaukee Magazine, writes about the developments in this story, with a mention of my exposé on them, in a must read piece.

Gunn finishes with these thoughts on this group:

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Reporter stories I’ve read usually seem superficial. Many do appear to be straight down the middle on controversial issues. But others have been questionable at best. An inexcusably thin one, for example, was hung on the claim of a pro-Walker talk radio host who says an unnamed fan e-mailed to tell her that someone had signed the host’s name to a recall petition. 
Then there was the $12,000 WR spent on an investigation that found just under 1,000 dead people still on the state’s voter rolls – barely three people in 10,000. There was no new evidence of dead people voting (five previously reported cases were mentioned), but that became the premise for a string of talking points on measures like picture IDs for voters. Meanwhile the story completely ignored countervailing arguments that such Republican-backed policies wind up disenfranchising Democratic voters. 
Flawed stories like those just heighten a much more critical concern: Who’s funding them?
Gunn finishes his article with some serious consideration to the relationship between the funding source and the reliability of the story, making points with which I agree.  Secrecy of the funding source, or having a heavily-biased and or partisan funding source doesn't necessarily mean that the media source is unreliable, but it should be treated with a healthy amount of skepticism.

1 comment:

  1. WR released a press release touting the results of VerifyTheRecall/TrueTheVote's entry of petition signatures into a database, claiming the results showed that Fitz wouldn't be recalled. TTR (to its credit) published their summary numbers as well as their spreadsheet database on their web site.

    Quick examination of the spreadsheet by the Recall Fitz team (and independently, myself) showed TTR was missing about a third of all the signatures from the petitions. Hundreds of entire pages resulted in no signatures in their database, even though TTR's PR claimed each signature had been examined by multiple volunteers (roughly six, as I recall.)

    WR sent their press release, and the newspapers gobbled it up.

    I made several conspicuous blog comments about the errors; I sent a polite detailed email to several people at TTR. No response.

    A few days later, TTR corrected its numbers. They still didn't agree with reality. They still didn't even agree with Fitzgerald's own numbers! And they certainly didn't with what the GAB accepted.