Heritage news media is caught Burke-napping

Our winner-take-all political system decrees that some will be winners in Tuesday’s fall elections, others will be losers. The one sure loser is Wisconsin’s mainstream news media. They will be repudiated.

Their failure to vet Mary Burke’s record is inexcusable given that Mary Burke has been running on her résumé — not on any discernible platform.

  • She has no message. Her candidacy has been unremittingly negative. Scott Walker has added 111,000 jobs since becoming governor four years ago; that’s more than during the eight years of his predecessor. Not enough, says Burke.
  • Scott Walker has reduced property taxes. Not enough, says the Democratic challenger, who offers no tax-cut proposal of her own.
  • The governor has cut income taxes. For the wrong people, says Burke, even though cuts were across the board. Etc., etc.
  • Burke says she will bring people together, although she could not persuade her fellow liberals on the Madison school board to vote with her in her 6-1 dissent on the school district annual budget. By some accounts, she has a hair-trigger temper.

Her Democratic predecessor at Doyle Department of Commerce called her tenure a “disaster,” and her successor, also a Democrat, was dumbfounded to find that Burke operated without any strategic plan for the agency to grow Wisconsin’s economy, Nathan Schacht at MediaTrackers reports. Which is especially odd, given that strategic planning was the second of her jobs at the family bicycle maker, until she was “downsized,” by her own account.

These developments came to light around the time that it was revealed Burke outsourced her vaunted 49-page jobs plan to a partisan hack for hire. An alternative news outlet first reported that information.

Then came the news, first reported by Matt Kittle at Wisconsin Reporter, another alternative news media outlet, that Burke was fired from her first stint with the family firm. This was criticized for a) coming in the last week of the campaign and b) for the news sources that broke the story. That it came late in the cycle is no one’s fault but the mainstream news media’s. As for bias, there is the adage concerning glass houses.

Liberally slanted and jealous of ‘new media’

Empirical research (abstracted here in the Quarterly Journal of Economics) shows that the heritage press is biased toward the liberal-progressive-socialist spectrum. Now in economic decline, that once-invincible and monopoly institution is jealous of the new media, which includes talk radio.

Consider the once-reputable Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which has been cheerleading the John Doe 2 assault on political free speech. It went into counterattack mode. “Attack on Mary Burke: Consider the Source.”

It called Wisconsin Reporter “a pseudo-journalistic publication bankrolled by conservative foundations.” But the Milwaukee newspaper admitted that “a second source, dug up by Journal Sentinel reporters, says it’s [also] his understanding that Burke was ‘fired’ from her job.”

“That’s a bit awkward, isn’t it?” posited James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal online. “The Journal Sentinel tells us we can’t trust what we read in the Wisconsin Reporter, then tells us we can’t trust what we read in … the Journal Sentinel. It’s the liar’s paradox!”

In other words, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in its own follow-up story confirmed the Matt Kittle story. Which it was compelled to do only because there was an original story. Scott Walker is correct: His bald spot has gotten more news coverage than Mary Burke’s record. The candidate has never supplied data to support her claim of increasing European sales to $50 million from $3 million in only three years. After only five years at the job, she’s out to go snowboarding.

Instead of demanding the data, the mainstream news media are attacking the credibility of former Trek chief operating officer Tom Albers and, especially, longtime human resources manager Gary Ellerman because both are, to varying degrees, Republican.

Shooting the messenger

Journal Sentinel attack dog Dan Bice scoured Ellerman’s Facebook page before he found an anti-Obama posting that claimed America was headed down the same path as Germany in 1932. A bit lurid, to be certain, but a view supported by thinkers like F. Hayek. Now the Journal Sentinel demands that Gov. Walker call for Ellerman’s head as chairman of the Jefferson County GOP. Yet it never sought dismissal of state Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski even after he likened Walker to serial murderer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Through all this, Mary Burke’s brother is regarded as without any bias in favor of his own sister.



The Green Bay Press-Gazette fell through the journalistic trapdoor with its headline Saturday: “Walker denies involvement in false claims that Burke was fired from Trek Bicycle.” (Jerry Bader recounts for RightWisconsin.)

False claims? Nowhere supported in the Press-Gazette. Walker has to defend himself against Mary Burke’s alleged incompetence?

Further be-clowning was provided courtesy of the Weekly All-Mary Burke Times, which has been puff-piecing the Burke candidacy all the year long. (Did you know that Ms. Mary is a philanthropist and that she loves dogs?) Madison’s self-proclaimed progressive voice described the Wisconsin Reporter as “a conservative mouthpiece masquerading as a news organization.”

No sense of irony, apparently.

Sorry to hear that Rose Marie, Nick, and Stephanie Schiavo have closed their Italian restaurant Veranda in Fitchburg Sunday, thus ending a 30-year run that included King Street’s Cafe Continental and, before that, Antonio’s on Park Street, which was started by family patriarch Tony Schiavo, who died in 2011.

Coming tomorrow — Old Sparky predicts Tuesday’s election winners.

Vote tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine — your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.