Dominique Paul Noth, an old school journalist, wrote an eloquent article in which he also laments the changes that have happened in journalism, although he admits it wasn't always so great either back in the day.
While it would well be worth the gentle reader to take a few minutes to read Noth's poignant observations on journalism as a whole, there is a section that I would draw the reader's attention to which outlines what we all know but few are willing to say outright - that the corporate media is in bed with the political operation of Scott Walker and his dark money supporters:
Many readers now wonder aloud why parent company Journal Communications continues toThere is not much that I or anyone else could add to this. But I would point out that the intertwining to which Noth speaks is even deeper than he reported. While it is true that the Journal Sentinel owns the website, it is funded - at least in part - by the Koch-funded Wisconsin Club for Growth.
damages its reputation of journalistic integrity by turning morning TMJ Radio over to the right-wing blathering of Charlie Sykes. But that was a ratings decision, not a news one. The justification remains that Sykes, like Rush Limbaugh, describes himself as an entertainer not a journalist. (Of course, he wants his opinions revered as hard commentary and he comes from a journalist background. In fact, I worked in the Journal newsroom when he was a reporter there, haranguing veterans with his ideas, which they found amusing or just quietly rolled their eyes. The general opinion was that he was likeable but not believable, and his father, the late journalist Jay Sykes, was more respected. So no wonder Charles moved on to pastures that would put him on a higher pedestal.)
Sykes’ ego has now led to a larger error. His Right Wisconsin, a website requiring paid subscription and full of his musings and those of others who claim journalistic credentials, including several right-wing bloggers JS has hired, was started by him to spread his journalism credentials and is actually owned by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Journal Communications, moving from mere employer of an entertainer to conspirator in right-wing journalistic thematics. That has destroyed the JS reputation for objectivity especially right now, as Walker falls into deeper disrepute through his own behavior as county executive.
Just ask Bice himself. In a web chat on jsonline Feb. 26, he was asked to comment on whether Right Wisconsin was an arm of Walker’s political machine, given that its editor, Brian Fraley, has been revealed as email contact in the recent release of John Doe missives. Chatted Bice:
“If you want to understand how closely tied Right Wisconsin is to the Walker team, do this: Go to the email records and do a search for the word Fraley, as in RW managing editor Brian Fraley, who worked with Kelly Rindfleisch back in the legislative caucus days. Then note that Fraley is involved in the email exchange that just led Gov. Walker -- apparently -- to fire DOT legal counsel John Schulze. Then turn on your radio and listen to Charlie Sykes argue against the Schulze's firing. It's a small and deeply intertwined world.”
Part of that deep intertwine is JS ownership of this Right Wisconsin so closely tied to Walker’s camp and Sykes’s disgust when Walker backs away from supporting his own gang.
As of this writing, Bice as columnist has suggested but not flat out said that Walker knew of the secret email network and router set up inside his county exec office. Meanwhile Sykes pretends it’s all old news though Walker’s pettiness in these emails destroys his Eagle Scout image and explains why Republican and Democratic prosecutors and judges continue to investigate him.
Any journalist can smell that Walker was deeply involved but there is a legal concern – and Walker has a deep bench of high-priced lawyers – about what you can say in print. After all, there wasn’t enough back then to charge Walker with corruption, just hints that good lawyers could try to strangle in court action.
As I spelled out to friends who asked: “There is a legal reason that Walker dodges his obvious knowledge and even media reporters who demand he answers. Consider the consequences if he does admit publicly what the emails of others reveal. It would confirm his role in an illegal coordination between campaign and county workers on taxpayer time. That opens him up to criminal action, in effect reopening the first John Doe while he and supporters are scrambling to delay the second John Doe until after the election.”
So while I understand the caution of journalists, I must point out that aggressive reform-minded newspapers – unlike JS -- would say aloud that Walker knew despite the legal implications. They have lawyers, too, and the First Amendment to protect them when they draw obvious conclusions. It’s not a matter of opposing or supporting Walker, it’s just going where the evidence leads good journalists.
For now, Bice in his column can hint, but he won’t say. Maybe that’s unusual caution in practice. But maybe, now that his owners have shown their real stripes, he has little choice.
Thus Sykes and Fraley have forsook all pretenses of being entertainers or journalists. They are simply marionettes controlled by their corporate puppet masters.