Last week, the Journal Sentinel ran its first "Ad Watch" article in the governor’s race, comparing a Green ad that misrepresented the J-S itself (but "packs a good punch", they got someone to say) and an ad attacking Green, which they (again) got someone to say was a "really bad ad".
This week’s "Ad Watch" runs further back in the paper (page 5 of the Metro section as opposed to page 2), and you can guess why. The ad "watched" had to be pulled, at least by a Green Bay station, because it went out of bounds for even political ads in trying to smear Doyle and his chief of staff, Susan Goodwin. So, good news for Doyle – that a pro-Green ad was so bad it had to be pulled – means a push to the back of the back of the paper.
The Journal Sentinel also appears to have lost its skepticism about the independence of ads generated by groups other than the official campaigns. Last week’s article called the group that produced the anti-Green ad a "supposedly independent group". There is no such second-guessing about the independence of the group running the anti-Doyle ad, a pro-school choice group run by hyper-partisan George Mitchell, running an ad that has nothing to do with the school choice issue. While the Journal Sentinel always defers to Mitchell and school choice industry advocates as pure of heart and spirit, the ad they produced is a remarkable piece of over-reaching vitriol that has nothing to do with their supposed purpose and can only benefit one politician. Are they also not "supposedly" independent? Well, no. That kind of skepticism is reserved for only pro-Democratic groups.
Also missing in this week’s "Ad Watch" are the outside academic voices that last week declared last week’s ads a "good punch" or a "bad ad". Instead, we hear from Goodwin’s lawyers and Mitchell. Were the J-S to submit the ad to the same analysis they did last week, surely the Mitchell ad would have been declared, at least, overreaching by trying to connect the conviction of civil-servant Georgia Thompson with anyone in the Doyle inner circle. But, no. This might be positive for Doyle.
The Mitchell ad is only the first salvo of the Ugly Campaign the Republicans surely have planned for the next 30 days. While the official campaign will stay on (slightly) higher ground, the GOP will use their usual shell groups or create new ones to lob bombs with phony charges and actors posing as concerned citizens. In the meantime, the Journal Sentinel will sit on the sidelines, ready to praise the GOP messages that "pack a punch" as good politics, no matter how dishonest; and to diminish any pro-Doyle messages as defensive and "supposedly" independent.