Mainstream Media Escapes From Wisconsin

Today’s New York Times is covering the Wisconsin recall election...on page 11. Not even the editorial page could be bothered--only op-ed columnists Joe Nocera and David Brooks weigh in. (Nocera laments the decline of unions; Brooks can’t quite bring himself to defend Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, calling his methods “obnoxious.”) A cause that fueled front-page headlines and editorial exhortations has been quietly abandoned.

As to the coverage itself, the Times focuses on the fatigue of the voters. “I hope this all stops,” says the first person quoted in the article on the recall election. Halfway through, the Times reminds voters that the vote has something to do with unions and collective bargaining. It meekly offers a suggestion that Democrats could actually win, and cites “some” who “wonder” if the recall election could be close enough to force a recount.

The ostensibly more conservative Chicago Tribune does even worse, pulling a bait-and-switch on its readers. The front page refers to an article about the Walker recall on page 9--which turns out to be a mere two-paragraph sidebar that mentions the most favorable poll for Milwaukee mayor and Democrat challenger Tom Barrett, putting him only three percent behind the incumbent. A photo of former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama at a fundraiser in New York City leads the paper’s national news section.

The lead editorial celebrates the “spirit of revolution”--in Egypt, where the radicals of the Muslim Brotherhood have seized the moment. Nationally syndicated columnist George Will takes up the Wisconsin issue, opposite a column by local writer Dennis Byrne who laments the failure of Illinois politicians to tackle pension reform--and does not spare the state’s Republicans for failing to heed Scott Walker’s example. At least someone gets it.


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