When I first started squawking about the Journal Sentinel’s anti-Doyle bias in its news pages back in September, the Green-good/Doyle-bad construct was deeply entrenched at what is ever more unfortunately the Only Newspaper in Town. It was apparent during the campaign that the J-S was going to do whatever it could to parrot and provide fodder for radio wing-nut talking points and would otherwise support the GOP as much as they could. For reasons unfathomable to all but them, the news editors and statehouse reporters longed for Mark Green to be our next governor.
You would think the resulting thumping of the hapless Green in the election would bring a moment of reflection for the manipulative newsers. You would be wrong. Even without the clarifying “balance” of the pro-Green stories (where is he now? Both gone and easily forgotten, after one more predictable puff piece in the J-S), the Journal Sentinel continues on its bizarre anti-Doyle campaign. Every Doyle accomplishment has a dark cloud behind it, looming in the background, if only so the J-S can jump out and say “boo!”.
Wednesday’s paper is a perfect example. It starts innocent enough in the headline: “Median property tax bill in state up $7”. Well, that’s gotta be good news, right? I mean, most editors would have even helped you out a little by saying “only $7” and even might have added the important fact “for the second year in a row”, but, still, not bad, right? Then comes the competing sub-head: “But state's package of limits on taxes expires this year.”
Good god, not “expires”! This is horrible! Someone please make it not expire! Please, Journal Sentinel, don’t let me be foolish enough to savor (much less recognize) the fruits of Doyle’s labors. The J-S would have beat Doyle about the head and shoulders if he had dared tried to make his formula permanent, but – No! Next year! I must presume the worst about next year!
The same nonsense that rattles around in the headlines is repeated in the article itself, written, to no one’s surprise, by self-admitted Doyle-hater Steven Walters (see my November 12th post for a discussion of his post-election anti-Doyle screed in the opinion pages). As if you couldn’t figure it out yourself, Walters announces the good news in the lead and then comes the extremely trite let-down. The whole second graph? “That’s the good news.” Oh, oh.
Then comes the punch line, otherwise known as “the bad news”. The tactics that kept your property taxes in check (still good, right?), are described as “Doyle-backed” – no mention of the legislature until after you are informed that all these good things will expire next year. We just know Jim Doyle wanted it this way, don’t we? That scoundrel!
Those trolling the Journal Sentinel on-line version the day before could have seen this one coming up 5th – or, rather, Wisconsin – Avenue. In an article apparently not good enough for the printed version, Walters warms up in his beating of Doyle for his own success. To do so, he uses the voice of another quickly-forgotten loser, non-Congressman John Gard. Now, who but Steven Walters would consider calling up a washed-up punk like Gard, who couldn’t even get elected in his own Republican congressional district, to ruminate about how property taxes “would have gone up even less” if Doyle had only signed the poison-pill bill the GOP ran up to him, back when they had control of the state legislature?
Loser Gard is not even identified, at least, as “outgoing” Assembly Speaker, if not "former", since the state legislature will not meet again until someone else is sitting in his Assembly seat. So Walters plays up his source who is such a lame duck he’ll need a photo ID and a body scan the next time he tries to get into the Capitol.
The editors, apparently, gave Walters two kicks at this ridiculous cat. Maybe we can expect another of the Journal Sentinel’s brave campaigns, like the one against legislators earning sick leave for health benefits that none of them knew they had. That was good for five or six front-pagers, featuring all kinds of useless do-gooder grandstanding. Just to keep the ball rolling, maybe we can hear next from former GOP leaders of the now-Dem-controlled State Senate and how Doyle really messed up this property tax thing two years in a row and blah blah blah.
It’s hard to figure out what the Journal Sentinel or Walters get out of any of this, except a continued erosion of credibility and prestige. Doyle is going to be governor now for four more years, the Democrats are in control of the Senate and, I mean, what are they trying to start or stop? All you really need to know is that if a Republican governor had presided over two years of nominal property tax increases, they’d be putting up a statue to the dude on 4th and State. That they can’t give Doyle a little credit where it’s due shows them as nothing if not petty, partisan and as out-of-touch as Junior Bush.