I don't really want to spend the rest of the campaign season writing about the Journal Sentinel's disastrous PolitiFact project, but they really give me no choice. Since its inception and every day now for over a week, the PolitiFact editors and writers have made outrageous "rulings" against Democrats, let lying Republicans off the hook numerous times, and generally shown itself to be an incredibly biased series.
It is also becoming increasingly clear that this result is no accident. It is by editorial design. How else would you explain the two entirely unnecessary pieces that ran last week and this Monday, concluding that two self-serving and (more importantly) unchallenged claims by Republicans were True and Mostly True?
Who ever said that Scott Walker didn't perform the political stunt of giving $370,000 of his salary back to the county? No one, that's who. But that didn't stop a PolitiFact editor from assigning one of the reporters to examine the truth of a claim that no one had challenged. The result was predictable. Message #1: Scott Walker is Truthful. Message #2: We should care that the most politically opportunistic empty-suit in Wisconsin history, who has been running for governor since he was a radical-right lieutenant in Scooter Jensen's political machine, would play games with his own income for the sake of making a meaningless claim about fiscal austerity during just this campaign.
Similarly, who ever said that loopy tea-bagger State Senate candidate Leah Vukmir was wrong when she pulled a meaningless statistic out of the air that there are sometimes more government than manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin? Nobody, that's who. The claim, even if true, was widely ignored as irrelevant. What, Leah? Is there something wrong with firefighters, cops, teachers, National Guard?
But, again, a PolitiFact editor assigned someone to examine the truth of a claim that no one had challenged and no one cared about. Now Leah Vukmir has the Journal Sentinel's imprimatur as a Truthful candidate and -- most important for her -- not a statewide laughing stock in a tight race against the much more sane incumbent, Jim Sullivan.
And, no, it doesn't matter that Vukmir's claim about $5 billion in tax increases was "ruled" false on the same day -- that ran as an inconsequential sidebar on page 2, while the story of her wonderfulness in not being wrong about the unchallenged jobs data was one of the few PolitiFact columns that ran on the front page. The Journal Sentinel knows how to use layout tricks to minimize the impact of negative news about their obviously favored fruitcakes.
All in a day's work for the Journal Sentinel's right-wing managing editor George Stanley and the PolitiFact editors, whose apparent mission is to make the world safer for Republicans. This new trend of adding Republican puff-pieces like the one on Walker and Vukmir to the mix of harsh judgements on Democrats and muted criticisms of Republicans will make for an entertaining last couple of weeks of this election cycle, as PolitiFact Wisconsin attempts to make sure the prophesies of their right-wing columnists and radio wing-nuts are self-fulfilled.