Accuracy in Media

Putting down Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s election win—actually, his re-election by a larger margin than last time—has become a fashionable game. To some, pooh poohing Walkers’ win shields them from an indisputable fact: Their beloved president is in deep do-do.

Even Time Magazine, decidedly a left-leaner, like most of mainstream media, now explores the likelihood that their guy loses five months from now. Can it be?

Editorials such as in the Minneapolis (MN) Star Tribune, “Caution advised in judging Walker win” (June 7), tend to diminish Walker’s victory. Excuses are rolled out. Somehow the losing is made more palatable, easier to take, a mere bump in the road, like Sen. Scott Brown taking Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts. It was, you must see, an anomaly.

Post-postmortems offered up by media such as Star Tribune and others, point out Gov. Walker’s “survival” (always, his “survival,” not a “victory”) is the result of outspending his opponent by a ratio of 7 to 1 and that dastardly “out-of- state” money.

Don’t look now, but the 7 to 1 claim is false. Not even close. Yet it is recited as fact by the wire services, parroted at National Public Radio (need we say, naturally?), by talking heads on TV, and by columnists such as Greg Sargent in the Washington Post.

The bogus 7 to 1 ratio is thumped by Obama booster Jim Messina, who went liberal media one better—claiming “conservative groups were willing to spend nearly EIGHT times as much money as the Democratic candidate and his allies raised.” (If seven is bad, then eight is “badder?”)

Turns out the ratio is traced to a “news release” from the  Center for Public Integrity, which took its data, in turn, from something called the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a George Soros-funded group. Why are we not surprised?

(Ever wonder why the public now doubts news offered up by print and electronic media? Wonder no more. It’s the inherently partisan nature, silly.)

Even the notoriously liberal New York Times gets it closer to correct on the spending ratio.   Gov. Walker’s forces did outspend the challenger, yes, but by a factor more like 2.5 to 1. Here are the New York Times‘ final tallies (June 4):

Walker: $46.6 million

Barrett: $17.9 million

You do the math. By still another count, Walker’s forces outspent Democrats by a slim 6 to 5 ratio—when primary costs and four other recall elections, plus a state Supreme Court election are counted. (That’s when Judge David Prosser repulsed a union-pushed candidate who could likely be a judicial activist to help public employee unions continue to have their way with Wisconsin taxpayers. Have the union folks no shame, none at all?)

As the blog Hot Air points out: “If one considers “total amounts spent during the Days of Cheesehead Rage on state senate recall elections, Supreme Court elections and so on, in 2011-12, the gap shrinks to roughly 1.5-to-1.” Hot Air explains:

Lastly, these figures only account for sums legally required to be publicly reported (and assumes those sums are properly quantified). Rutgers University economist Leo Troy has estimated that actual union political spending is likely several times higher than generally reported. There is no reason to think otherwise in this case.

In its excuse-mongering, the Minneapolis daily dismisses Gov. Walker’s opponent as “middling.” Mayor Barrett’s low ranking, in its estimation, presumably is the reason for the president of these United States, being in the Upper Midwest (dialing for dollars) at election time, did not support fellow Democrat Barrett. To some, that looked a lot like giving up, a cop-out, not wanting to be attached to a certain defeat.

In political language, folks, that’s called “distancing.”

Finally, the editorial reluctantly admits Gov. Walker’s victory was a “severe setback for organized labor,” meaning public employee unions. Then the excusing-defeat editorial pumps up a highly suspect exit poll’s seemingly favorable results, sort of as a consolation prize. Losers need hope, too.

An exit poll shows Obama leading “Republican Romney” by 51-45 percent. This gushing optimism comes five months before the national election, in a suspect poll earlier on election night, which suggested this recall election was a toss-up, “too close to call.”

Call this whistling past the cemetery. Citing a suspect exit poll five months away from an election is a bit of a stretch, yes, but maybe necessary to buoy Democrats’ sagging hopes in November. Is that a mark of sheer desperation, or what?


(This column originally appeared on the American Thinker website.)

Guest columns do not necessarily reflect the views of Accuracy in Media or its staff.

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