Friday, February 24, 2012

Wisconsin Reporter Fallout Hits Franklin Center

Last week, I laid out how the propagandist group that ironically calls itself Wisconsin Reporter is actually funded by the Koch brothers and has ties to Scott Walker's campaign.

The very next day, fall out started to happen and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin sent out a scathing letter informing news sources around the state alerting them to the fact that WR is not a valid news source but simply an extension of the Walker/Koch campaign.

Earlier this week, Erik Gunn, the reporter who writes "Pressroom Buzz" for Milwaukee Magazine, covered the story.  In his article, he pointed out some of the questionable stories that have come out of WR and posed the question if their work would not be better suited for the op-ed page.

Well, the story doesn't end there.

Gunn had shot off some questions to the Franklin Center regarding the story.  They came out swinging...and missing:

Jason Stverak responded to my question about blogger Chris Liebenthal’s linkage of the Franklin Center to a Scott Walker donor, through the Center’s ownership of the web domain, by suggesting the connection was in essence out of date. 
Liebenthal, Stverak says, “is stretching to find connections that aren't there. Regarding your specific question, we purchased the website and domain name from WisPolitics Publishing LLC in 2011. We stand by our coverage and the integrity of our news organizations." 
Steverak also provided a link to this press release announcing the transaction. In short, he appears to suggest that the connections Liebenthal drew reflected ownership of the domain before the transaction. That may be so, but the information on record (via the WhoIs look-up) still reflects what Liebenthal reported. I’ve asked Liebenthal for his reaction and will post that in the comments here when he gets back to me.

And respond I did:
Liebenthal got back to me late Wednesday with this response to the Franklin Center's statement: "The funding source of the Franklin Center is well documented, not by just myself, but scores of sources. Likewise, the domain ownership was independently confirmed and clearly demonstrates the intermeshing of the Franklin Center, Wisconsin Reporter and Scott Walker's campaign. Their denial of these easily demonstrated and verifiable facts says more about their integrity and reliability as a news source than anything else." 
Given the track record of these two propagandist groups, the fact that David Koch was bragging about using his front groups to try to sway the recall elections and the fact that Michael Grebe, the head of the Bradley Foundation, is also Walker's campaign chair, I wouldn't expect any acts of integrity on their parts anytime in the near future.

That means it's up to us, the people, to play watchdog and call out our local newspapers that might be tempted to cite the glorified campaign literature that comes from these two groups as actual news reporting.

1 comment:

  1. Great work, Chris! Anyone else notice that is very selective in the stories on its front page?

    Lately, most of their links to articles from Wisconsin media are either publication of Gannet Company or Wisconsin Radio Network, with only the occasional story sourced via Journal Communications or Capital Newspapers