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Apr 23, 201512:57 PMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

What if they invaded John Nichols’ house?

Ever wonder why conservatives don’t trust the traditional news media?

Early this week, the National Review came out with an explosive cover story detailing the experience of three private citizens subjected to armed police with battering rams conducting pre-dawn raids of their homes, seizing cell phones and personal computers, and admonishing them to tell no one — even as the authorities apparently tipped off favored news reporters.

Many more were subjected to the police home invasions than the three interviewed for David French’s National Review article, “Wisconsin’s Shame: ‘I Thought It Was a Home Invasion’.”

The targets were not dealing meth-amphetamines. They were not plotting an imminent terrorist bombing. They were political conservatives who supported Republicans during the 2011-12 recall elections.

Imagine the outrage if Brandi Grayson, of Young, Gifted and Black, were targeted — or Progressive magazine editor Ruth Conniff — instead of Eric O’Keefe of the Club for Growth.

Three days ago I emailed the National Review story to 10 influential Wisconsin journalists in Madison and Milwaukee so there could be no excuse for them not seeing it. So far, not a peep — either to me, personally, or (better!) to their readers.

In Wisconsin, only M.D. Kittle of Wisconsin Reporter, Ann Althouse of Althouse, Vicki McKenna, Charlie Sykes and Collin Roth of RightWisconsin, and yours truly have taken notice. All conservatives or libertarians.

At RightWisconsin, Sykes says, “The explosive new details of John Doe abuses in Wisconsin have gone viral thanks to a great piece in National Review. National reporters and columnists are all talking about John Doe and asking a simple question: how could this happen in America? Of course, here in Wisconsin there is no introspection on the part of the [news] media. The major news outlets here have employed a black out, choosing to ignore the new allegations.”

Odd, this lack of interest, because the case may very well be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court this term on First and Fourth Amendment grounds. Isn’t that enough of a news peg?

Fortunately, the national news media is beginning to take notice, or, at least, the conservative sources, led by the Wall Street Journal, which deserves a Pulitzer (fat chance!) for being first and firmest in its condemnation of criminalizing political speech.

The WSJ said today, “On Friday, the Justices will consider whether to hear OKeefe v. Chisholm, a … civil-rights lawsuit brought … against Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm and other prosecutors. The suit charges the prosecutors with a multi-year campaign to silence and intimidate conservative groups whose political speech they don’t like … part of a larger legal effort to subvert their 2010 Citizens United ruling. The game is to use the theory of ‘coordination,’ which allows vast investigations to be instigated on the thinnest evidence, to sweep issue speech back into the regulatory umbrella of campaign-finance law. … Wisconsin’s prosecutorial machinery has abused the law to silence disfavored political speech.”

UW-Madison law professor Althouse agrees. Referencing a federal appellate court’s ruling that the case properly belongs in the state courts, Althouse says, “The 7th Circuit decision came out seven months ago. Where’s the action from the state courts? If there are indeed free-speech violations, they’ve been going on for three years. It’s one thing for federal courts to refrain from jumping into state court proceedings that might do a decent-enough job of enforcing federal rights. But here, these proceedings have worked to suppress political speech for two election cycles and beyond. It’s quite shocking.”

Remember this the next time The Capital Times, the Wisconsin State Journal, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, or the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism prate (great word!) about “freedom of information.”

“Let the people have the truth and the freedom to discuss it.” Indeed!

Political harassment

Rush Limbaugh is talking about it (audio here): “This is the police batter-ramming their way into homes on direct orders of a Democrat district attorney, fishing for information to use against a political enemy — and then threatening homeowners who had all of their civil rights violated! Threatening them to shut up or else. …This is the kind of thing that should land some people in jail.”

Megyn Kelly, of Fox News, did 6:36 minutes on this last night. She called it, “the incredible story coming out of Wisconsin, of how Democratic prosecutors went on a witch hunt of voters who supported conservative principles.” (The video here includes an interview with the National Review reporter.)

Rich Lowry, in the New York Post’s, “Hunting witches in Wisconsin,” called it “… an ongoing travesty that — now that Walker is entering the presidential stage — should be considered a national disgrace. Walker’s opponents weaponized campaign-finance law, literally. … A partisan Democrat whose wife was a shop steward for a teachers union, Chisholm investigated everything possible related to Walker for a couple of years, without really laying a glove on him.”

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, in USA Today, said, “When Vladimir Putin sends government thugs to raid opposition offices, the world clucks its tongue. But, after all, Putin’s a corrupt dictator, so what do you expect? But in Wisconsin, Democratic prosecutors were raiding political opponents’ homes and, in a worse-than-Putin twist, they were making sure the world didn’t even find out, by requiring their targets to keep quiet.”

Investors Business Daily editorializes, “Wisconsin John Doe investigations are harassment.”

Platinum subscriber bonus lint

Jon Erpenbach, on Scott Walker: “I think he lands, does his laundry, gets back on the plane and leaves.” — Says the state senator who fled to Illinois to avoid a vote on the state budget, as quoted by the 24/7 Anti-Scott Walker corporation. (No comments allowed at “Your Progressive Voice”!)

Did we say Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s Veterans Hospital scandal case had legs?

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Comments, page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4 Next »
Apr 23, 2015 01:12 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Once again, why aren't you incensed and outraged at the blatant attempt at state sponsored censorship at the BCPL? Not a peep from our only defender of free speech.

Apr 23, 2015 01:18 pm
 Posted by  JamesWigderson

To be fair Dave, my Waukesha Freeman column appearing today is on this topic, too.

Apr 23, 2015 01:28 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

That National Review piece (such purple prose!) identifies a reporter on the scene. Matt Kittle digs deeper and discovers it was Journal Sentinel's reporter. Did they note report the raids? The answer is yes, they certainly did. Did they not report them in language as decidedly biased toward a right-wing narrative? No, they did not. Maybe that's why right wingers don't like it. Not sympathetic to their cause, moreso to the facts.

Apr 23, 2015 02:42 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

To anonymous @1:28PM

The defendants were under gag orders not to contact their lawyer, their families, the press etc. because it was necessary to "protect the integrity" of the investigation.

Okay, so who in the DA's office tipped off the reporter?

The DA's office wanted it known that Walker associates were being investigated, but they wanted to control that information.

So much for integrity. But political prosecutions are never about integrity.

Apr 23, 2015 03:23 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

The FBI raided a house in an urban neighborhood on the near east side before people leave for work in broad daylight (picture people going for a morning jog, walking the dog, taking kids to school) and you wonder who in the DA's office tipped off a reporter? I saw the thing unfold on twitter.

But the point remains regardless of the tip-off: A reporter wrote about the raids. Multiple stories appeared. Years later, the National Review writes a very biased version and Blaska wonders where the other media are? They were reporting it then, when it was happening. When it was news. It's how we all know what happened.

Such outrage over misapplication of police powers here. Where is it when an unarmed black man is shot dead by the police?

Apr 23, 2015 04:29 pm
 Posted by  John

Sure they wrote about the raid at the time, quoting their host, the DA's office -- the only participant that wasn't under a gag order. Now that those charges have been found to be scurrilous, without legal merit, and politically motivated, where's the follow up? Where's the outrage over getting pawned?

Apr 23, 2015 05:03 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Oh, how the right wing loathes and distrusts traditional, mainstream media and real journalists. To them the press should be ideological advocates, like their own(ed) reporters are. Seriously Dave: Limbaugh? Fox News? Sykes and McKenna? It must've nearly killed you working all those years as a legitimate reporter under Dave Zweifel. No wonder you're bursting with such rage and hyperbole now. The right thinks (knows!) the mainstream press has a liberal bias. Well, journalism school teaching them to confirm sources, be accurate, use critical thinking skills, etc., forces journalists to deal with reality. It's reality that has a liberal bias.

Apr 23, 2015 08:20 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Hey Anony at 3:23pm: why the hell was the FBI involved if this is a state issue! Bathe last time I looked the FBI is a FEDERAL agency! If you saw it unfold on twitter - good for you! Were you UP AND DRESSED ON THE STREET when this happened? Why was that reporter FYI. A Milwaukee paper up and dressed in Madison in the early AM at the very house that was bring raided? How many homes are there in Madison? Even if I concede there are very few homes owned by conservatives in Madison there are still WAY TOO MANY TO JUST SHOW UP IN THE EARLY AM! Your ability to use logic is completely evident. Were you taught by John Mathew's teachers? My guess is......YES.

Apr 23, 2015 09:51 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

The residence of every signer of the recall petition should be raided. There was lots of money and coordination going on by liberals during the recall, and The Capital (sic) Times was the main coordinator.

Apr 24, 2015 06:50 am
 Posted by  madisonexpat

The DA and the enabling judge must be disbarred. They should share Mike Nifong"s fate.He is disbarred and bankrupt in NC after his prosecutorial misconduct in the Duke LaCrosse team witch hunt.
John Corzine walks free after making many hundreds of millions of dollars disappear.
John Koskinen at IRS is still peddling lies and Lois Lerner is retired.
That they are not ALL serving time is a travesty.
This administration has made our federal government into Chicago.

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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