Undaunted, Thompson did it again this week when he again tried to smear Baldwin, this time complaining that Baldwin allegedly did not support providing body armor for the troops fighting in the Middle East. If possible, this attack was even more false and more disgusting than his previous one. From Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
"Who the heck would vote against armor-piercing protection for our troops, except for someone who's hanging so far out on the left that she can't even think straight?" Giuliani asked.So where would Thompson get such a false notion? Bice explains that as well:
Now a variation on that theme is the centerpiece of a new Thompson ad ripping Baldwin.
"She fought to block funding that provides body armor for our troops just to make a political point," the TV spot says.
But experts say the measure coming under scrutiny is a feel-good bill that wouldn't lead to federal defense cuts, much less slice federal funding for body armor.
That's just political spin.
"The notion that, if this bill would pass, it means that Tammy Baldwin would be denying body armor to troops, is ludicrous," said Kenneth Mayer, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Four times in the past, Baldwin was listed as a co-sponsor for legislation that would allow peace-loving taxpayers to get a conscientious objector exemption from the Internal Revenue Service to stipulate that their income taxes wouldn't be used for war. Their taxes would go into a "peace tax fund," with the money being divvied out for non-military items.
Every two years, Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia introduces the bill, and then it sits in the House Ways and Means Committee without a vote. Baldwin most recently backed the bill three years ago.
Earlier this month, Media Trackers - a conservative group that digs up dirt on Democrats - was the first to suggest that Baldwin's support for this measure meant she favored "denying body armor and medical supplies to U.S. military personnel" fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.But where Sikma claims that he did not write the bill would cut funding, he actually did write that:
From there, the story took off. It was picked up by Breitbart, a conservative online news site, and plugged by talk show hosts Jerry Bader and Charlie Sykes.
Brian Sikma, who wrote the Media Trackers' piece, has defended his original post, saying he never contended the peace fund bill would "cut" funding for anything in the military. He said his point was that under the bill, anyone would be able to "block" their taxes from being used to support the U.S. Department of Defense.
But even Sikma went beyond that in a television appearance over the weekend.
"Tammy Baldwin clearly has a credibility problem when it comes to national security issues," Sikma said on Sykes' "Sunday Insight" show on Sunday. Among other things, he said, "She voted against body armor and medical supplies."
Except there was no vote.
The measure has not come up for a vote in committee or on the House floor during Baldwin's 14 years in Congress. The last time anything happened on the proposal was July 1995 when a House committee held hearings on it.
Despite the fact that some believed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were controversial, many on both sides of the political aisle thought that the troops deployed should at least receive the supplies and protection they needed. Baldwin’s work on the so-called Peace Tax Fund actively sought to block funding for needed protection and life-saving equipment for these deployed military personnel.As a note to Sikma, I did screencap the post, so there's no use for you trying to delete it or change it like you usually do.
The fact that Sikma, who is the communications director for Media Trackers, is confabulating things is neither new or shocking, although it remains very offensive and disgusting.
Media Trackers, and Sikma, is sponsored by the Bradley Foundation, the Koch Brothers and the Sam Adams Alliance, much like its sister propagandist agencies, MacIver Institute, Wisconsin Reporter and WPRI.
Sikma and his propagandist agency has a lengthy history of having credibility problems. Perhaps their most famous example is where they tried to accuse recall petition signature collectors of bribing underage women to sign the petitions. This was utterly and completely proven to be false.
They then accused Senator Lena Taylor and her mother of housing a felon who had allegedly voted fraudulently. It turned out that this too was a lie and that the alleged felon was actually an ex-felon and was legally allowed to vote.
Sikma and his group has regularly tried to discredit the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office and its investigation into the illegal campaigning that was done by Scott Walker and his staff. They have gone as far as scouring the Facebook pages of the employees of the DA's office and stalking their houses. To this day, they have not been able to prove one act of impropriety, but that does not keep them from making the innuendos.
Perhaps the most classic example is when Sikma and company accused a lefty group of providing ribs for votes. Even though they knew their allegations were false, they still made them. But when they were called into the DA's office to testify on their allegations, their story changed completely:
Then came the bombshell:To put the icing on the issue, they also ended up with a little spat with their sister agency, MacIver Institute, who got dragged into the mess.
Q: All right. Did anyone tell you that in order to get a ticket for food you had to sign up to vote?
[Roth] A: No, not explicity. [sic]
Q: Do you have any other information that you could offer that would shed some light on this...?
A: ...I can't say if that was a necessary or that was explicit that one had to sign in and get in the van to take the food or the ticket
In other words, Media Trackers's anonymous source knew the pro-union Wisconsin Jobs Now group did not engage in illegal activity. But that didn't stop Media Trackers from "reporting" otherwise.
So this begs the question: if Media Trackers wasn't going to cooperate with investigators (perhaps because they knew the facts weren't on their side), why did they ever bother issuing a press release making such serious allegations. Simple. They only needed to smear Wisconsin Jobs Now for the short period before the recall election. They didn't need to win a court case, they just needed to win a media war. And win they did.
ONE LIBEL TOO FAR
Despite the long history that Sikma and his agency has of distorting the truth, if not flat out lying, and not taking any responsibility for their behaviors, Sikma might have finally outdone himself now.
Sikma recently reported that Kyle Wood - a Republican volunteer for Chad Lee, the political opponent to Mark Pocan to fill Tammy Baldwin's seat - was brutally assaulted. He further reported that he had copies of text messages which had been allegedly sent by Phillip Frank, Pocan's husband.
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A series of shocking text messages purportedly from Philip Frank, the partner of Democratic State Representative and Madison-area Congressional candidate Mark Pocan, threatened a volunteer for Pocan’s Republican opponent days before the volunteer was found beaten.The news was so big that Sikma was breathless on Monday morning as he shared his story with Charlie Sykes on Sykes' squawk radio show.
Last Wednesday, Kyle Wood, a full-time volunteer with Republican Chad Lee’s Congressional campaign, was beaten inside his home in Madison by an unidentified attacker who claimed that as a gay man Wood should be supporting the gay candidate for Congress.
The text messages obtained by Media Trackers allegedly show Philip Frank, Pocan’s partner, making sexually-charged comments to Wood before threatening him and making racist statements about the spouse of Chad Lee. The messages were apparently sent two or three days before the Wednesday beating, according to Wood, who is alleging to investigators that the messages came from Frank.
After mocking Wood for supporting the Republican candidate, Frank is accused of writing, “Remember your station in life and remember not to cross the husband of a powerful man. You are on shaky footing as it is, push much farther and you won’t have a future in this town, or any other.”
But guess what. Even though Sikma claimed that he had verified the story, and the thing had taken off nationally, it turned out to be another lie. This time, Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Sikma's reporting skills, or lack thereof:
Wood claimed the attack occured [sic] on Wednesday morning when an unidentified man knocked on his door and then brutally attacked him as soon as Wood answered it.Keep in mind now that Sikma claims to have verified the text messages, but didn't even know the phone numbers. He said that he had verified the veracity of the texts and the statements, but couldn't name the people that verified them. And he utterly lied about contacting the Pocan campaign or Mr. Frank.
Following that news, Media Trackers printed damaging allegations about "a series of shocking text messages purportedly from Philip Frank," Pocan's husband. Media Trackers printed the whole series of text messages, which were laced with threats, sexual innuendo and racist language and which were supposedly sent to Wood just days before the alleged attack on him.
“Remember your station in life and remember not to cross the husband of a powerful man. You are on shaky footing as it is, push much farther and you won’t have a future in this town, or any other," one of the supposed messages reads.
Brian Sikma, the Media Trackers blogger who wrote the item and who regularly accuses mainstream journalists of sloppy and biased reporting, said his story was based on information from Wood. Sikma said Wood's "conduct is unacceptable and such actions have no place as a part of our public debate," but Sikma made no mention of his own role in the allegation against Frank getting onto the Internet.
Sikma said that Media Trackers had also talked with workers in Lee's campaign and other unnamed individuals who knew Wood "in an attempt to verify his personal integrity." Sikma refused to say whether Media Trackers had reached out to Pocan's campaign before running the story.
But Dan McNally, Pocan's campaign manager, said Media Trackers never contacted the campaign. He had no other comment.
If you go back to Sikma's interview on Sykes' show, Sykes even expresses concern about the veracity of the story. Sikma again guaranteed that the story was absolutely true and that it was checked and double checked.
Now that the story has been proven to be a hoax, Sikma has gone into damage control mode and has thrown Wood under the bus:
Wood had shared information with Media Trackers subsequent to the beating purporting to show harassing text messages sent to him by Philip Frank, the spouse of Democratic Congressional candidate Mark Pocan. Individuals who know Wood verified the accuracy of his claims to Media Trackers but those claims now appear to be false. Media Trackers believes Wood misled us and lied when questioned about the accuracy of the information he claimed to have.
Harassment and violence should never be tolerated regardless of the motives behind it. Nor should fabricated claims of harassment and tolerance be allowed to stand without condemnation. Wood lied to law enforcement and the public about his beating and previous instances of harassment. His conduct is despicable.
The extent of the fraud perpetrated by Wood’s claims spreads far beyond Wisconsin as media outlets across the country picked up his story and repeated his allegations. Wood owes the public, Rep. Mark Pocan and his spouse Philip Frank, and law enforcement officials an apology.
Media Trackers regrets that we were repeatedly lied to and misled. We regret that our readers were subject to the dishonest claims of a dishonest individual. Despite the best efforts to verify the accuracy and integrity of certain claims, a cover-up sometimes works. Those who create and maintain such fabrications deserve to be ruthlessly exposed for they hold the power to destroy the credibility of innocent people.
For instance, he will have to detail what he did and with whom he spoke to verify the texts' veracity and Wood's integrity. Sikma should also explain how the police figured out that the story was false and whether he played a role in that matter.
He should, but he won't.
He'll be too busy preparing his defense for the libel lawsuit that Mr. Frank should file against him.
As a last note, I wanted to point out that a lot of right wingers were duped into this story. Most of them, like Sikma, resolved their dissonance by throwing Wood under the bus. Others just deleted it. And like Sikma, their credibility has been hurt. But it's their own fault. After getting proven to be a liar so many times, there is no reason for anyone to believe him.
My question is, given how often so many of them have been proven to be dishonest - whether on their own volition or by feeding off of stories from people like Sikma - how can anyone believe what any one of the right wing propagandists, bloggers and squawkers?