Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Although I was in downtown Milwaukee, as usual, Tuesday morning, I could not break away in time to see the Barack Obama rally in Pere Marquette Park. I cursed the early time and the chilly wind, but looked forward to seeing nice visuals of the rally in the local media, focused as it should be on the national political star of the moment.

Out on the porch this morning, I did indeed see an unmistakable color photo of a political rally above-the-fold. Settling in as I pulled the paper out of the plastic, I spilled hot coffee in my lap when I realized that the primary photo on the front page was not of Obama, but, rather, of...Tommy Thompson.

What newspaper editor in his or her right mind would really think that a press conference with a former governor, currently cashing-it-in with various entities he used to regulate at the Department of Health and Social Services, trumps a political rally attended by thousands featuring a national political star?

Not only was the photo placement the opposite of what it should have been; the choice of the two photos used were outrageously slanted as well:

The Thompson press conference looked like a political rally, complete with Green signs and cheering supporters in the background.

The Obama photo looked like they were all attending a funeral. I’m sure the editors had to go pretty deep in the photog’s files to find anything so bland and with Doyle looking so sour. According to the article, it was a "sign-waving rally", but you’d never know it from the selective visuals provided by the Journal Sentinel.

What do you think it’s like in the edit board meetings that put together the front page placement at the J-S? "Yeah, put Tommy on top there. That nice cheery one. God, we love Tommy, don’t we? Too bad he didn’t run. I guess we gotta put Obama in there, throw this one in. Just look at Doyle’s face!"

The pro-Green coverage continued on other pages in the paper today. A short week before the election, Spivak and Bice dusted off their usual "casino cash" schtick, casting aspersions on a casino developer’s contributions to Doyle and Falk, even using the voice of a Green "flack on the attack" to make their points for them. The second part of the Spice Boys’ pro-Green dance was an approving review of Tommy Thompson’s (god, we love Tommy, don’t we?) rigged success in the private sector. "With all that baggage and income," sum-up the Boys, "can Thompson really afford to drop everything and run for president?" You can almost see them with Thompson, slapping high-fives in some distant end-zone of the mind. Ka-Ching!

Oh, and, by the way, the Supreme Court has decided not to even decide to decide anything about Green's illegal cash until after the election. If you missed the bad-for-Green story, you can find it stretched across the bottom of the first page of the second section, with a little tiny picture of Green. You’d think the end of this phony Green-generated legal saga would merit a bit more attention – it certainly would if Green somehow prevailed, for the first time, on any issues relating to the now-officially dirty money.

But, no, the Journal Sentinel wouldn’t want to interject the illegal Green money issue into the discussion this close to the election. I mean, it’s not like Tommy Thompson was doing a press conference at the airport or anything. Now, that’s news, eh, Tommy?

Unfortunately, this kind of slanted coverage has come to be expected in the Journal Sentinel news pages, even as its editorial board prepares to endorse Jim Doyle. Today marked the third and fourth editorials preferring Doyle to Green on specific issues (education, crime, and, today, health care and stem cells). It’s hard to believe the J-S would turn around after all that and endorse Green.

But the news editors will keep driving their pro-Green agenda, getting happily played by press conferences, phony legal battles and imaginary "corruption" spin. Bill Clinton is coming in on Friday (an event determined to be less "noteworthy" than the Obama appearance – are they going to stick that one back on the obit page with Madeline Albright?) and the Green campaign will develop a counter-event that will trump it (Scott McCullum? Why not!), at least in the Journal Sentinel.


Capitol Eye said...

To be fair to the Journal Sentinel, you have to think like an editor.

Which picture would you put on top if you were an editor?

A shot of Tommy Thompson, face contorted, jowls vibrating and finger wagging too fast for the camera, or a picture of Jim Doyle, surrounded by a smiling Herb Kohl, a beaming Jessica Doyle and a Barak Obama whose face is partly obscured by his microphone?

Any editor worth his or her salt, no matter his or her political persuasion (Democratic or a member of the La-La Land Party) would pick the unflattering picture of Tommy.

Carol from the West Side said...

Day In and Day Out the color picture over the fold should be the destruction the US is causing in Iraq. That's a No Brainer.
All the rest is pure drivel.

Mike said...

You all miss the point. No matter what sloppy-wet kiss Obama is getting from the national media, he is still just a Junior Senator from Illinois. He isn't even a ranking member of a committee. Thompson on the other hand was Governor of this state for 14 years, and then appointed to head the largest department of the federal government. He still enjoys huge support here in the state, too.

Thompson, love him or hate him, is still a powerhouse of Wisconsin politics. As far as your complaint about the choice of pictures, have you been to a Doyle rally lately? Even here in Madison people don't get that excited at them, Doyle just isn't a great public speaker or cheerleader. Some people can pump up a crowd and let's face it: Jim Doyle and Herb Kohl can't.

Anonymous said...

Mike, you used to make good points, but now you're just spinning anything and everything to fit a far too simple conspiracy theory.

Just one point--no, I don't read the Spivak and Bice column to be positive for Tommy Thompson. I consider to be pointing out that he is making quite a bit of money trading on his experience in the government. I read it to be mocking Thompson for what they consider to be his dubious, attention-demanding presidential race dabling. After all, what kind of presidential candidate would be signing those kind of deals, with Nick Hurtgen, two years out?

It's really too bad, because your better analysis gets sunk by a simple narrative.

P.S.: I can assure you most people in Milwaukee do not know of this O'Bama fellow. They know Thompson, and they might pick something up with his picture on it. They are selling these newspapers, after all.

Mike Plaisted said...

Three of these comments today -- all of which I take as constructive and helpful -- claim that Tommy Thompson is some kind of popular draw or sells papers or something. I think that's inside-the-Madison-Beltline nonsense.

Tommy wasn't loved when he was governor, he was feared. People around his iron-fisted government in Madison didn't know where his secret deals would be made or his ax would fall next. His W2 was (and still is) a disaster for the disenfranchised and the state budget is still saddled with the results of his mismanagement.

When the Journal Sentinel puts the Thompson photo op above the fold, they are basically committing to their sate-wide boxes being a day-long poster for Green. Obama would have sold many more papers with a decent photo -- you wouldn't even have to put Doyle in it. The J-S decided to promote Green.

I think I've been pretty consistent about what I think the J-S has been up to throughout the campaign. They have used their editorial judgement in headlines and placement of stories to favor Green. It's not a conspiracy theory -- I just think that's what they are doing.

I'll continue to try to contribute something to this conversation before and after the election. Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

I have heard it is because the JS is sitting on a story about Doyle and the Department of Health and Family Services has set up a deal to have Billy Lee Morford move out of his North side home and into one of the new apartments above the new Bayshore Mall. This is supposed to be announce shortly before Morford's trial in January of 2007 in a effort to keep it under wraps. I guess Doyle and company figure that since the mall has everything for a person to live at with little reason to go else where that it would be a safe location to move Morford to. Why does this relate to the Green picture above the fold? I would bet it is the JS setting the stage of saying that they were for Green all along in case Green wins. And they know that Green will win once this story breaks in the talk radio and the rest of the blogger world.

Mike Plaisted said...

Oh, fer cryin' out loud. You really think this is going to do it for you? You are dreamin'.