Two liberal editorialists are letting the liberals have it over their tactics in the Wisconsin battle against new Gov. Scott Walker. In a Washington Post piece posted on Saturday, editorial writer Charles Lane excoriates fellow liberals:
This is hypocrisy on an epic scale. I can't think of a more overwhelming refutation of the claim that incivility is the unique province of the American right -- as opposed to what it really is and always has been: a two-way street with both right and left lanes. No wonder so many Americans in the broad center of the political spectrum are turned off by both parties and their sanctimonious "bases."
Lane also praised the Friday critique of Time's Joe Klein. Lane wrote that just weeks after the president's calming words about civility in the wake of the Tucson shootings there's this:
“On the broadcast tonight, the uprising at home,” teased NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, touting “another day of fury in Wisconsin. Workers angry about what they call a plan to balance the budget on their backs.” Williams set up his Friday newscast by equating the left-wing protests with those against Arab dictatorships: “From the Mideast to the American Midwest tonight, people are rising up. Citizens uprisings are changing the world,” he championed, citing what “we’ve witnessed from Tunisia to Egypt” and now Wisconsin where “the state capitol has been taken over by the people.”
Without ever mentioning the involvement of President Obama’s Organizing for America, reporter John Yang trumpeted from Madison how “tens of thousands of public workers have come here to make their voices heard.” Scolding incivility certainly didn’t interest Yang, who cued up a protester to trash Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker without making any note of the sign he was holding which showed a hammer and sickle below “Scott Stalin.”
ABC and CBS on Friday night, as they did on Thursday night, ignored the instigation by Organizing for America as CBS’s Cynthia Bowers, who never identified anyone as liberal, concluded: “More protests are planned for tomorrow and for the first time conservative activists are calling upon their supporters -- including Tea Party groups -- to hold rallies of their own.”
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow began her show Thursday claiming, "Despite what you may have heard about Wisconsin's finances, Wisconsin is on track to have a budget surplus this year."
On Friday, the website Politifact exposed Maddow's assertion as 100 percent false (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell appeared on Friday's 'Fox & Friends' to discuss the media's lack of interest in uncivil rhetoric from left-leaning labor unions massing in Madison, Wisconsin over the past few days.
Some protesters' signs have depicted Republican Gov. Scott Walker as Hitler, others as recently-deposed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. Some even depict crosshairs over Walker's face.
Yet the media have done virtually nothing to expose let alone criticize the inciteful rhetoric.
[links to video after the page break]
In the midst of outcry that Wisconsin teachers were skipping school to protest the governor's new budget bill and demand collective bargaining rights, NBC's Norah O'Donnell provided the teachers' motives as an argument for their side. She failed to mention why Wisconsin Gov. Walker cut into their benefits in the first place.
Covering the story on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," O'Donnell remarked that "I know there are some that think this is a travesty for the schoolchildren of that state." She added, however, "But these teachers are talking about their pensions, and they're worried about having to pay more for their health care costs, right?"
The explosive debate has featured voices from the left and right crying about the compensation Wisconsin public employees receive and what they pay in, compared with that of private sector workers. The conservative Heritage Foundation explains that Wisconsin's budget was already in the red, and that state employees enjoy generous benefits that many other citizens don't.
The same networks that assailed the allegedly extreme invective from the Tea Party have, thus far, not found anything interesting about signs implying that Scott Walker, Wisconsin's Republican governor, is a Nazi or a dictator in the style of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak.
On Thursday's newscasts and Friday's Today, Good Morning America and the Early Show, the extreme rhetoric of some of the signs went unremarked. Some of the images, which included pictures of Walker as Adolf Hitler and signs that read "Scott Mubarek [sic]: Get Out," were seen briefly during crowd shots.
But, none of the programs raised any objections to the hateful rhetoric surrounding Wisconsin's plan to reform collective bargaining and force federal workers to pay for part of their retirement.
Welcome to the reckoning. We have met the fiscal apocalypse, and it is smack dab in the middle of the heartland. As Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation. Let us pray it does not go the way of the decrepit welfare states of the European Union.
The lowdown: State government workers in the Badger State pay piddling amounts for generous taxpayer-subsidized health benefits. Faced with a $3.6 billion budget hole and a state constitutional ban on running a deficit, new GOP Gov. Scott Walker wants public unions to pony up a little more. He has proposed raising the public employee share of health insurance premiums from less than 5 percent to 12.4 percent. He is also pushing for state workers to cover half of their pension contributions. To spare taxpayers the soaring costs of Byzantine union-negotiated work rules, he would rein in Big Labor's collective bargaining power to cover only wages unless approved at the ballot box.
Good Morning America on Friday spun the protests in Wisconsin from the perspective of the unions and Democratic lawmakers who oppose Republican efforts to reform collective bargaining. Co-host George Stephanopoulos even interviewed a Democratic lawmaker from a top secret location outside the state.
Correspondent Chris Bury's piece on the protest featured five clips of those protesting the efforts by Republican Governor Scott Walker to make government employees contribute to their retirement plans. He allowed just one in support.
The reporter narrated, "Last night, more public workers, including these firemen, poured into the capitol. Some families camping out overnight, in a last-ditch effort to protest budget cuts they fear would cripple their union rights."
Update: Video and audio added.
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge attempted to portray Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's efforts to curb costly benefits for public sector unions in his state as purely political: "Your teachers union, which votes Democratic...hit very hard. Yet your police, state trooper, firemen unions, who all supported and endorsed you, did not get touched in any of this. Why is that?" [Audio available here]
In the live interview, Walker quickly dismantled the entire premise of Wragge's attack: "Chris that actually is not true. There are 314 fire and police unions in the state. Four of them endorsed me. All the rest endorsed my opponent." Wragge was undeterred in his follow up question: "But you understand their position with some of the state workers, saying you're essentially taking away their voice by trying to break these unions. You understand that, correct?"
View video below
A prominent Tea Party group has announced that it will stage a counter-protest in Wisconsin on Saturday aimed at supporting a measure in that state to revoke public employee unions' collective bargaining rights and to force them to pay a slightly larger amount into their own health and pension plans.
That measure sparked large protests in Madison Thursday by union groups, and a walkout by Democratic legislators in a successful effort to deny the State Senate a voting quorum.
ABC on Thursday night championed a “mutiny in America” by public employees in Wisconsin whom NBC’s Brian Williams trumpeted for “rising up and saying no to some of the most extreme cuts in the nation.” ABC’s Diane Sawyer teased: “Tonight on World News, a mutiny in America. Public workers take to the streets as governors try to cut their pay and perks.” Sawyer framed coverage from the grievance of the unionized workers:
Today, we saw America's money trouble meet a reality, a human reality, as teachers, nurses, tens of thousands of state workers took to the streets in this country protesting cuts by the governors, saying to these governors, a promise is a promise. One lawmaker looked out at the crowds gathered in the Wisconsin capital today said it's like Cairo moved to Madison. [Audio available here]
NBC’s Williams also offered a comparison to “citizen uprisings” overseas: “Tonight after watching citizen uprisings now across the globe for weeks, how about a big one here in the United States.”
Though Governor Scott Walker is merely asking the coddled workers for a slight increase, from six to twelve percent, in the portion of the generous health coverage they must pay, ABC reporter Chris Bury painted it as a dire burden, citing how Walker is “demanding that public employees pay more for their pensions and health care, the equivalent of a seven percent pay cut,” adding that “what really upsets state workers is a budget that strips away nearly all of their union bargaining rights over health care, pensions, and work rules.”
In the weeks following the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) there was a constant media barrage dishonestly contending liberals never use violent rhetoric or imagery.
As Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker tries to balance his state's budget with a bold move limiting the collective bargaining rights of public employees, the Left have come out in force dispelling the myth that only the Right uses harsh tones to make its point (video follows with commentary):