In a nearly 1,700 word story aimed at revealing the “extreme” union policies of Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker, The New York Times also put in a few good words for Walker’s Democrat opponent. But even after spending paragraph after paragraph informing readers of how bad Walker is on unions, the paper effectively buried the lede by casually mentioning in its very last sentence that the Democrat isn’t saying she’ll repeal Walker’s union measures either.
The April 26 feature, “Governor With Eye on 2016 Finds His Rise Under Scrutiny,” is a retrospective of sorts of Walker’s career, only instead of focusing on his many successes, it laid out all the things the Times felt were unsavory whether investigations actually found Walker at fault for them or not.
Walker’s every move during his 20-year career was characterized in negative terms in the piece. For instance, Walker had beat a nasty recall election that was launched against him by union operatives only days after he was elected to the governor’s mansion and he did so in a state with a decades-long reputation of being a union-friendly, progressive stronghold.
This was a major victory for the 46-year-old governor. But instead of characterizing Walker’s recall as a success, the paper said that the union-pushed recall attempt “only solidified his power and enhanced his political credentials across Wisconsin and beyond.”
As the old joke goes, “you say that as if it were a bad thing.”
The entire piece is framed this way with every victory the Governor has had being matched with the dire consequences it supposedly portends for the state. Funny that he keeps getting reelected, though.
Finally, after nearly 1,600 words about how bad Walker’s union policies are, the paper of record made to introduce its readers to Walker’s Democrat opponent in the upcoming election for Governor, former state commerce secretary Mary Burke.
Yet, even as the Times spends all that time beating Walker up for his union policies and buttering up Burke as the great white hope for Wisconsin’s unions, in its very last sentence, the paper drops a bomb noting that Burke isn’t talking about repealing the union laws either.
To explain why, the Times begins with excuse making saying, “Ms. Burke, too, is walking a delicate political line in a state that chose to keep Mr. Walker after all the uproar over unions…”
Yet, despite the paper’s excoriation of Walker, as it wraps up its story it admits that the voters like his union policies?
So, with the last line of its story, the NYT adds that one line that one would think might make Burke almost as bad as Walker in the eyes of unions: “But she has not promised to repeal Mr. Walker’s law that all but ended collective bargaining for public sector workers here.”
So, after all that, it turns out that even the paper’s hoped for replacement for Walker is not targeting the very policies they think is ruining Wisconsin.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org