Thursday, February 24, 2011

Red Alert in Wisconsin

By Wednesday afternoon, the Wisconsin story was submerged into a roundup covering the spread of state employee union protests to other states where right wing, tea party-ish governments are in control of the state houses.

The story got a jolt of caffeine when a gutsy editor of an online Buffalo news site got a bright idea to talk to the Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, by posing as one of the wealthy Koch brothers, who spend lavishly to promote right wing politicians and ideas. Walker is one of their beneficiaries.

The news site, the Buffalo Beast, nothing to do with Tina Brown's Daily Beast, had a 20-minute talk with Walker and then presented the audio to the world.

It took the Times a while to stick this in the paper in Timesian language. No matter what the ultimate import of the story, it attracted readers: The Beast's website was inaccessible for hours, overwhelmed by requests.

Finally something appeared in the middle of a comprehensive Milwaukee story that said "suspicions" that Walker "was out to bust the unions ... were increased after the revelation of comments Mr. Walker made during what turned out to be a prank phone call from a blogger ..." Oh, come on. The story has more juice than that.

During the conversation Walker, talking to the caller he thought was Koch, praised the Times for an article on a decided lack of union solidarity. It was a good story, although it didn't give much background into the dire straits unions are truly in.

Walker also said he was not worried about all the attention by reporters because "sooner or later the media stops finding it interesting."

The governor was superficially gullible, but to me, he sounded beside himself to actually be talking to the man who bestows such good fortune on selected extreme right wingers. Walker often sounds uncertain, careful not to offend this man. Neither Walker nor any of his staff seems to recognize Koch's voice.

Of course, the importance of the episode is not the prank, not Walker's gullibility, not the obvious fact -- not suspicion -- fact that he is out to make public sector unions irrelevant. The episode is just an eloquent demonstration of the role of big, very big money in politics.

Walker's last point about the media's short attention span is pitiful. He's right.

Koch Whore: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker answers his master’s call

And one of three stories on states' politics:

Indiana Democrats Leave State to Avoid Union Vote

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