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Jun 18, 201501:25 PMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Columnist demands The Capital Times Inc. cease promoting Democratic candidates

(page 1 of 2)

Last time your humble squire expressed amazement at how readily former Sen. Russ Feingold got major news media mileage out of a clearly partisan campaign trick: make your opponent promise to keep third-party spending out of the Senate race.

His gambit was good for follow-up stories. How would incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson respond to this challenge from clean-living Russ? (Read more about his “political action committee” gravy train.) Yes, the mainstream news media took the bait. They like Russ. He’s a liberal.

I said last time that, by definition, one has no control over third party activity. If the Blaska Policy Werkes and Tanning Parlor Inc. decides to post a sign on its world headquarters calling Russ a hypocrite, there’s little RoJo can do about it. It’s my free speech. Actually, Russ Feingold did try to do something about that. The McCain-Feingold Act that would have silenced corporations 60 days before a general election was largely overturned by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case.

However, what is good for the goose … Today, Blaska’s Bring It! blog challenges the Russ Feingold campaign to foreswear any third-party in-kind contributions from corporations whose principal for-profit business is the dissemination of news and opinion.

We demand that candidate Feingold request that The Capital Times, the Wisconsin State Journal, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Gannett newspaper chain — all of them corporations — refrain from publishing news stories, puff pieces, editorials, and opinion columns favorable to his candidacy.

We have in mind “news stories” like this June 10 example from the Corporation that Speaks as if it were a Person: “Columnist blames Ron Johnson for 2,000-day federal judicial vacancy.” Yes, The Capital Times breathlessly reports, “Nan Aron, the president of the progressive Alliance for Justice, lays the blame squarely on one person: U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.”

Campaign finance law recognizes that in-kind contributions must be reported just like monetary contributions. This “free press” is worth thousands of dollars in direct mail post cards, hours of TV ad spots, and scores of highway billboards.

The New York Times has its carve-out

The indispensable James Taranto connects the dots. He asks, “Should the New York Times Co. be stripped of its rights under the First Amendment?”

He notes that the notorious Clinton Foundation donated $100,000 to the New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, a charitable affiliate of the company, in 2008. “That same year, on Jan. 25, the company published a lengthy endorsement of Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy for president.

Was this a quid pro quo? There’s no evidence of that, but under long-established case law, there doesn’t have to be. The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that avoiding the mere appearance of quid pro quo corruption is a sufficiently compelling governmental interest to justify limits on political expression.

Further, even apart from the contribution, what the New York Times Co. did in January 2008 — spending corporate money in an effort to influence voters within 30 days of a primary election — was generally illegal at the time. The New York Times Co. was exempt under a statutory loophole, and at any rate the law itself was struck down by the Supreme Court almost exactly two years later in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. But that ruling has drawn fierce and voluminous criticism, including, ironically, from the New York Times Co. Even Mrs. Clinton, now seeking the presidency again, has vowed that she will not nominate anyone to the high court who hasn’t pledged to overturn it.

Taranto notes that the Times is busy running interference against potential Hillary rivals. Did you know Sen. Marco Rubio “and his wife Jeanette have been cited 17 times for traffic violations.” (The count was Marco 4, Jeanette 13.)”


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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
Jun 18, 2015 02:02 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Republicans more Republican, Democrats more Democrat - hence the political divide, but you'll never hear anything about Dems becoming more extreme

Jun 18, 2015 04:11 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Rickert's a hack. Is it hateful to point that out?

Jun 18, 2015 04:15 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Dave, I enjoy your writing and the blog you produce much more than you suspect. Of course I think you're wrong, wrong, WRONG 90% of the time and I love pointing it out. But I honestly admire your writing style and wit (even though it can be too sharp and contemptuous at times). That said, I have to say this one is just plain silly. The Cap Times is liberal? Big whoop. Most corporate-owned mainstream media, especially in this state, is the opposite. You attack the credibility of the New York Times by quoting...a partisan writer from THE WALL STREET JOURNAL? Seriously?? Fair and balanced, viewpoint neutral are they... Feingold uses one of the oldest campaign techniques by challenging Rojo to give up certain contributions and you think he should...give up favorable press coverage? Is that the same Ron Johnson, by the way, who self-financed his last campaign to the tune of $9 million and then after the election just happened to get $9 million of "deferred income" from the company his father-in-law set him up with? Compensation determined and awarded to him by...him? Interesting ethics and respect for the spirit of the law there.
I know you're wondering what 10% I do agree with. I think Chris Rickert (who you labelled "The Great Equivocator" - that was great!) is, journalistically speaking, a dork. Tell me I'm wrong!

Jun 18, 2015 05:54 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous


Again you show your stupidity.

The Milwaukee journal is owned by a holding company owned by rupert murdock.

yes the rupert murdoch.

do your home work before you speak.

oh sorry, you learned from your best friend, walker.

Another liar.

alike, attract,

Jun 18, 2015 07:12 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Progressive Alliance for Justice? Since the name for liberal organizations are opposite of what they really are, that means it really is for injustice. Like the Capital Times has nothing to do with capital, just the Wisconsin Capitol building. It should be called The Hate Times. They just write about how much they hate conservatives. Democrats are the party of hate.

I think the answer is for every company in the US to declare themselves to be a journalistic enterprise and publish a free newspaper and call it a business expense. That way Johnson wouldn't have to give up any money to get "favorable press coverage", which Foolsgold gets for free from all the left wing media.

Jun 18, 2015 10:03 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Right on the mark as usual, blaska.

Jun 19, 2015 01:18 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

What do Blaska, Kaleem "Accounting Irregularities" Caire, and "alleged" Charleston shooter Dylann Roof have in common?

“[They are] big into segregation and other stuff,”

See here:

Sums you three up quite nicely. Riddle me this Dave: if some drugged up mentally ill wanna be Rhodesian kid can do this based on rumors of the negroes raping all the white women, etc., think of what one mentally ill person might do in Madison where - while there is no confederate flag flying over the statehouse - we actually DO have segregated legal systems, are actively working towards segregated school systems, the school board president blames white people for the community's problems, a white privilege conference is supported with state money, and black leaders submit a list of demands to the city? [I'll leave that poor expecting couple that was gang raped out this... Sorry about that sentence, I know it was terrible.]

Madison has no shortage of the mentally ill and substance abusers. We know there's at least one bolt action 30-06 in town. [It'd locked up, right Dave C?] Seriously, maybe it's a good idea to tone down some of this racial segregation stuff. You and Mary Burke are the only kind-of-serious people supporting it, and she's on sabbatical.

Speaking of "Accounting Irregularities," I see that the vagrant problem at Philosopher’s Grove is soon to be solved. Accounting Irregularities is on the case! His solution? Taxpayer money: “'We’re going to spend money to get rid of them, why not spend that money to employ them?' [Accounting Irregularities] asked."

Why not indeed!

How did you get to be pals with this guy again???

-"Citizen Dave's Remington 700"

Read more:

Jun 19, 2015 12:08 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

AnonyBob nails it once again and does it with style. Give THAT guy a blog!

Jun 19, 2015 12:26 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Again, Blaska comes out in favor of censorship.

Jun 19, 2015 03:26 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

blah blah blaska; your demands for certain newspapers to stop reporting on Feingold is stupid. ever hear of "freedom of the press". sure you did; you use it all the time. you; as the "humble squire" totally ignore the existance of the mainstream right media of which you are a part. instead of quoting what other people write how about some serious reporting. WEDC, walker lying, the budget being used as a dumping ground for policies gutting our state. your quite good at bashing dems; but remember your guys are in power and it's a mess.

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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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