I spent much of last week trying to get the attention of the editors of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, to get them to recognize, admit and change their ridiculously biased coverage in the Wisconsin governor’s race. So I like to think I had something to do with Sunday’s Ask the Journal Sentinel column by Editor Martin Kaiser.
In the column, Kaiser repeated the defense of the paper’s coverage that Managing Editor George Stanley floated with me in an e-mail last week. The coverage must be fair and balanced, the logic goes, because they get complaints from both sides. “We receive a similar volume of complaints from deeply committed Democrats and deeply committed Republicans, each side saying we are biased against their candidate or party,” Kaiser writes adding: “When we tell readers that we get complaints of bias from both sides, it usually surprises them.”
Well, before I’ll get surprised about it, let me first be skeptical. I’m sure they do get “complaints of bias from both sides” ; I’m not so sure about the volume. I mean, how could the Green campaign possibly complain about the gifts they are handed every day by the Journal Sentinel? It may be that various readers make general complaints about “liberal” media bias, a phony canard pumped up everyday by wing-nuts big and small. But I would indeed be surprised if anyone who supports Green could make the same kind of serious specific criticisms about content and placement that I raised in various e-mail last week.
Did Green have a problem with the Journal Sentinel leading with his (as it turns out) phony vow to appeal a judges ruling rather than with the fact that the judge confirmed that the supposedly partisan Elections Board got it right when they ordered him to return his illegal transfer from his federal accounts? Could Green really complain when the J-S followed the lead of wing-nut talk-radio by praising his false-on-its-face ad about the Elections Board vote, an ad that even the J-S complained misrepresented an editorial as a news story and even misquoted that? How could Green take issue Spivak & Bice’s cheery item about his fat-cat fundraising in Washington; an item that ended with Green honchos bragging that they were expecting “a hefty sum to be transferred here”?
Even if Green wanted to launch a complaint about the Journal Sentinel coverage just to mollify his red-meat base, what the hell would he find to complain about?
Today’s pro-Green coverage was one of omission. As Bill Christofferson points out today, a story out of Washington noted that an aide to Bush henchman Karl Rove, Susan Ralston, has been discovered with lots of ticket-stubs in her pocket from games and concerts, all courtesy of Jack Abramoff. If Spivak & Bice weren’t so busy looking under rocks on Farwell Avenue for hints of scandal at the Kenilworth building, maybe they could make the connection and turn their snide wise-guy routine on Green campaign manager Mark Graul, who used to be in the Abramoff comp-ticket-for-aides loop when Ralston worked for Abramoff and was handing out the freebies herself. But that might dry up a few sources for their anti-Doyle campaign, wouldn’t it?
“We strive to give our readers the most truthful, accurate, fair and helpful campaign coverage,” says Kaiser in his extremely self-serving column. They might or maybe Kaiser “strives” for such things, but, in its clear pro-Green bias, the Journal Sentinel has failed on every count. What the Journal Sentinel really needs is an ombudsman, someone to keep them honest. That way, these important issues of bias and outright campaigning would be dealt with more than spin.