Wall Street Journal points out ‘disgrace’ of mainstream John Doe reporting

Part 88 of 88 in the series Wisconsin’s Secret War

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. — We get it. The mainstream media hates Scott Walker.

It’s been pretty clear where legacy news outlets statewide and nationwide stand on the Republican governor who toppled public-sector collective bargaining in the Badger State — a very dangerous man for organized labor and the armies of the left.

But last week’s headlines from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to the Washington Post screamed of Walker’s “criminal scheme,” taking up the John Doe prosecutors’ descriptor as the gospel truth.

ABOUT WALKER: Conservatives have long claimed the real role of the long-running John Doe investigations is to take down Gov. Scott Walker. Now many conservatives see the mainstream media complicit in the judicially debunked investigation.

Buried far beneath in the mainstream’s coverage are the key facts in the John Doe story: two judges, including the presiding judge of the long and secretive investigation, have declared the prosecutors’ theory that dozens of conservative organizations illegally coordinated with Walker’s campaign is wrong.

U.S. District Court Judge Rudolp Randa shut down the probe last month, arguing the prosecutors probably wouldn’t prevail in a civil rights lawsuit against them.

Wisconsin Reporter on Thursday called out the mainstream’s questionable reporting.

The Wall Street Journal and other publications excoriated the old guard’s coverage in a pointed editorial over the weekend.

“So the national press corps has finally decided to pay attention to the John Doe probe into the political allies of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker,” the Journal editorial board wrote. “Having ignored the story when two judges ruled against the prosecutors’ theory of the case, the press now broadcasts that theory as if it were a fact, not a discredited accusation. The episode further underscores the injustice at the heart of this politicized investigation.”

As the newspaper points out, the “coordination” at the heart of what conservatives describe as a political “witch hunt” is nearly identical to the “coordination” employed during the 2012 presidential campaign on behalf of President Obama.

“In February 2012, Mr. Obama’s official campaign committee ‘blessed’ (as the Politico website put it) fundraising for Priorities USA Action, a liberal SuperPAC that supported Mr. Obama and other Democratic candidates. The big dollars soon followed,” the Wall Street Journal editorial asserts.

“The disgrace is that all of this has been known for weeks or months, yet the media reports on Friday ignored or buried it.”

And then this pointed indictment summing up the failing — whether a colluded failure or not — of the mainstream press.

“A reader of the New York Times and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had to read far down the news stories to see any reference to this judicial repudiation. We realize that these liberal publications have been asleep on this story, but you’d think they’d have more respect for First Amendment law,” the op-ed states.

By the way, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and New York Times doubled down on the debunked “illegal scheme” rhetoric.

The Times, perhaps not surprisingly, applauds the John Doe prosecutors for their “work” in what the newspaper still holds out are campaign law violations.

“If the rules against coordination are lifted, wealthy donors will achieve their dream of donating unlimited millions directly to candidates,” the New York Times editorial declares. “The Walker case shows how important it is for government at all levels — Congress, federal agencies and state officials — to put severe curbs on the ability of outside groups to meddle in politics with unlimited dollars.”

What the nearly two-year-old John Doe probe into these conservatives shows is that the prosecutors and the state Government Accountability Board don’t understand campaign finance law, haven’t kept up on U.S. Supreme Court rulings on campaign finance and the First Amendment and, more frightening than ignorance, is the allegation that the left is attempting to use prosecutions and the accompanying “paramilitary-style” raids as a way to change laws they do not like.

The mainstream media doesn’t seem to consider that possibility, however.

Perhaps mainstream outlets can take solace in the fact that left-fronted organizations across the country have simply loved those “criminal scheme” headlines so much they’ve taken them as their own.

Another victory for the trusted legacy press.

Contact M.D. Kittle at mkittle@watchdog.org