If you haven't heard his excellent sandbagging of the hapless 620 news dweebs last week, take 5 minutes and listen to it now.
Here it is.
Zielinski digs in from the get-go, lumping news director Jon Byman and morning host Gene Mueller (who he repeatedly calls "you guys") in with Sykes, whose daily Walker Protection Show immediately follows them on the Journal Communications Inc. flagship biggest-stick-in-the-state radio station. You can almost hear Byman and Mueller's eyes roll as they try to control the unexpected and badly-needed attack on their straight news credentials. As the obedient Byman tries to promote the GOP-designed multiple-signature-and-Mickey-Mouse-signing meme to smear the recall effort, Zielinski was having none of it. "You guys are doing a great job hyping the case," he said. "You guys are running around 24 hours a day with this false narrative...promoted by your friends at the MacIver Institute..." The whole performance was a beautiful take-down of the TMJ brand, which has been forever tarnished by their association with the likes of Sykes, Jeff Wagner, and all of the other False Prophets of The Nut-Right.
Gene Mueller has been a welcome voice on Milwaukee morning radio for decades -- especially his many years teaming up with the legendary Bob Reitman on the late WKTI. His everyman-from-Sheboygan shtick is still a welcome addition to the 620 morning show, but, as Byman tries to getting a word in edgewise with the on-a-roll Zielinski, Mueller says the stupidest thing in the segment. "Graeme, what happens on this station after 8:30 is none of my concern," he said. This from the guy who makes happy-talk with Sykes about his upcoming lies at 8:25 every morning. This from the guy who often sticks around to provide supposedly straight news reports during the Sykes hours. If the kind of poison Sykes spews into the air every day after 8:30 is really none of his concern, maybe he should make it of his concern. Gene Mueller's formerly rock-solid reputation as a regular-guy-on-the-radio and a half-decent newsman is put in jeopardy every time he engages with or promotes the Garbage Within his own radio station.
TMJ radio honcho Steve Wexler -- who is responsible for much of the poisoning of the Milwaukee airwaves, from his days at WISN where he promoted, if not hired, the reprehensible Mark Belling, to today where he promotes Republican causes through Sykes, Wagner, (until recently) the ridiculous J.T. Harris, and runs national wing-nuts such as failed comedian Dennis Miller and the knuckle-dragging Michael Savage -- responded to Zielinski's hijacking of the segment by claiming "Our listeners are smart enough to understand that our news programs consistently present opposing viewpoints but that our talk programs have a different mission."
Well, no. First of all, anybody who listens to Charlie Sykes and believes any of the GOP talking-points he drives on a daily basis isn't "smart enough" for anything, much less making a distinction between straight news and Sykes' blather. And, what exactly is the "different mission" of the talk shows? It must be the promotion of nut-bag radical Republicanism and the protection of the FitzWalkerstan. Nowhere does the station provide a disclaimer, such as "Charlie Sykes' insipid reading and artistic rendering of Republican press releases does not represent the views of station management..." Which can only mean it does.
On all the Journal Communication entities -- including and especially the newspaper -- talk-radio is the tail that wags the news dog. From Byman and Mueller in the morning to John Mercure in the afternoon, the so-called "news" programs are only there to provide context and material for the Sykes show, setting up stories he wants to talk about to continue his Save Walker campaign. [Another great element in the Zielinski rant is his reference to "millions of dollars of in-kind contributions" that the station provides to the Walker campaign via the Sykes show.] Do you think, if they wanted to, one of the news guys (I'm looking at you, Gene Mueller) could get on the air and speak un-Sykes heresy or, god-help-us, do a PolitiFact-type fact-check on Sykes' daily lies?
Don't kid yourself. Sykes is TMJ's biggest asset in the angry-white-man demographic and is paid accordingly. He is the Face of WTMJ and every other on-air personality is just his support staff.
As if to prove Zielinski's point, Scooter Walker himself visited the WTMJ studios this morning for a full-fledged love-fest with the supposed newspeople. Hey, Governor -- you who destroyed careers and schools, drove your agenda like a bulldozer through a pliant legislature, who is about to kick tens of thousands of poor and working class children and adults off of BadgerCare, who is about to remove women's access to cancer screenings -- let's have some of those yummy frosted pecans of yours. After more than three minutes of this happy holiday drivel, the Sykes Support Group on the morning show set up a few softballs for their beloved Scotty, with no follow up to his deliberate lies about the source of the recall effort (out-of-state union "bosses" and blah de blah blah) or anything other questions worthy of a radical, damaged, beseiged soon-to-be former governor.
After that, the morning team handed Walker off to -- you guessed it -- Charlie Sykes, who "interviewed" the governor in the same studio, with the extra enhancements, I would hope, of mood music, scented candles and flavored oil for the romantic encounter to follow. I mean, I hope Sykes had the good sense to warm him up a bit instead of just diving right in. He was hosting, after all.
Yesterday, the Democratic Party launched a brilliant fundraising effort based on the Sykes/TMJ pro-Walker team, encouraging recall supporters send in $6.20 to support the recall effort. I think we can do better than that: how about $6.20 squared. That would be $38.44. Graeme Zielinski, congratulations. The check is in the mail.