It’s bad when national media outlets show bias, but I honestly think it’s worse when your local media shows bias. Last night on Twitter I came across a tweet about thousands at a pro-Walker rally, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said only hundreds were there.
This may not seem like a big deal, but the Associated Press picked it up and didn’t bother to check the facts. Other media outlets reported the original AP article. The MacIver Institute took a screen shot and posted it to their Facebook account:
I looked all over the Associated Press website and couldn’t find their articles. Not shocked at all, but luckily other local outlets used the numerous AP articles on their site. The first one appeared on their ABC website. This article is interesting because it glosses over the pro-Walker protestors, but goes into detail about the anti-Walker protestors. No bias here, right? The AP did post another article that was picked up by Madison.com. This one did get into more detail about the rally and the supporters, including those who spoke. The only article I could find that is any good is from Wauwatosa Patch. The writer, Jim Price, uses accurate numbers. He mentions the organizers were expecting 1,000 people, but 3,000 attended.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear someone say over 1,000 I picture 1,200, maybe even 1,500. I definitely don’t picture 3,000! It doesn’t change the perspective much by updating the articles to say over 1,000 when they will be specific about the number of counter protestors. Matt Batzel, from the original tweet, told me this is unfair because it appears the pro-Walker protestors only outnumbered the anti-Walker protestors 10 to 1.
The local TV stations also repeated the numbers like TMJ-4 and WSAW. Now, the TMJ-4 article says thousands now, but if you look under the by line it will say it was updated. The video of the actual news broadcast shows they changed their mind. The broadcaster says hundreds instead of thousands. Luckily, the MacIver Institute also posted a video on YouTube.
Other outlets in the nation also distorted the rally. The Sacramento Bee calls the rally a large crowd while specifically pointing the counter protestors numbered 100. The Huffington Post said Governor Walker attended, but he did not. The article they credited (the aforementioned Patch article) did not say Governor Walker attended. In the above screen shot it shows The Chicago Tribune reporting the original AP article, but when I went to their website I could only find the updated one. The Milwaukee section at MSNBC received a few sentences about the rally.
One of my good friends on Twitter, Tammy, was at the rally. She sent me an email about the rally along with pictures. She mentions how well it was put together despite the short time it was done in. It was organized on FB by Paris Procopis and Santo Ingrilli. She estimates around 3,000 people, which contradicts the media’s reports. State Senators Leah Vukmir & Alberta Darling and Rep Jeff Fitzgerald talked about pushing ahead with the budget votes even when their safety could no longer be guaranteed.
The point is if you’re going to properly cover the anti-Walker protests (like the sit-in last year) you should properly cover the pro-Walker protests as well.