Barely making the Associated Press's top 10 U.S. stories list shortly after 11 p.m. Eastern Time is a story about the arrest and indictment of Samy Mohamed Hamzeh in Milwaukee. With informants posting as co-conspirators, Hamzeh intended to carry out a massacre of "at least 30 people" at "a Masonic temple in Milwaukee," intending to kill "everyone they saw," and to then "walk away from the scene as if nothing had happened."
It's clear from the AP story by Greg Moore and Todd Richmond that the pair read the actual indictment, as they grabbed quotes from Hamzeh found there which are not present in the joint Department of Justice/FBI press release. What's odd is that they used one of them twice, while they chose to ignore other provocative statements quoted in the indictment.
A couple of thousand protesters have showed up to rail against the Wisconsin Legislature's move to pass right to work legislation this week.
That number is far smaller than what was seen four years ago, when Badger State Governor Scott Walker championed Act 10, a budget repair bill which limited — but please note, contrary to frequent press assertions, did not eliminate — most public-sector unions' collective bargaining rights. Todd Richmond's Wednesday evening coverage of the situation in Madison at the Associated Press got plenty of perspectives from union members and others upset with the legislature's latest move, but predictably failed to get any insights from right to work supporters or those skeptical of protesters' positions. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbereed tags are mine):
As one who has made the occasional dumb mistake (which readers tend to be quite adept at catching), I figured I'd give the Associated Press's Todd Richmond and his editors a while to correct a pretty obvious miscue relating to a Wisconsin gubernatorial recall campaign visit by challenger Tom Barrett. In a report whose first version appeared yesterday morning and currently has a 2:42 p.m. Saturday time stamp, Richmond wrote that Barrett's campaign Saturday started "with the Barron County Dairy Breakfast in Hillsdale, a burg of 1,250 people about 90 miles west of Minneapolis." Well Todd, if Barrett actually was 90 miles west of the Twin Cities, he would not have been in Wisconsin; he would have been about halfway between Minneapolis and the North Dakota border. (Hillsdale, Wisconsin is really about 90 miles east of Minneapolis.)
On more substantive matters, Richmond, with the help of an agenda-driven headline ("Wis. governor works to meet voters before recall"), portrayed Walker as an awkward in-person campaigner, someone not instantly recognized by many people who have lives outside of poltics (imagine that) and, of course (while not mentioning union and leftist spending at all) as a beneficiary of "a jaw-dropping $31 million in campaign cash." He also wrote that polls show the race as close while failing to note that Walker leads in either every one or nearly every one. The relevant paragraphs from Richmond's report are after the jump (bolds are mine):
Yesterday was supposed to be a day of massive pro-union demonstrations nationwide designed to give Wisconsin public-sector employee moral support from hordes of their union and non-union "brothers" and "sisters" around the country.
Uh, that's not exactly what transpired.
The establishment press's fallback position in matters such as these when the protesters involved have their sympathies is to cite decent numbers where available, while otherwise referring to "large crowds," leaving it to the imaginations of readers, listeners, and viewers what that really means. Call it "creative crowd reporting." With some slip-ups, the New York Times and the Associated Press each employed this tactic yesterday.
Unfortunately for them, many local reporters did estimate crowd sizes in cities other than Wisconsin's capital of Madison, and they aren't particularly impressive (while still being suspect, as will be seen later). William Jacobsen at Legal Insurrection (HT Instapundit) compiled press reports from other cities as follows: