In crazy Florida, news media and maybe voters are still more level-headed than in Walkersconsin | WisCommunity

In crazy Florida, news media and maybe voters are still more level-headed than in Walkersconsin

Go to the URL in the links below and read a new editorial in the Tampa Bay Times that forcefully and without mercy lays out a withering case against Flordia's Republican governor, Rick Scott. What does this pulls-no-punches editorial in the Sunshine State have to do with Wisconsin? Precisely this:

Scott is built very much in the mold of Wisconsin's own GOP governor, Scott Walker. A fellow tea party hack, Scott has made many of the same foolish, politically self-aggrandizing moves that Walker made here in the Badger state -- ill-advised and mean-spirited stuff like refusing hundreds of millions of dollars to create jobs by creating a new high-speed Amtrak rail link, refusing to assist state residents in obtaining affordable health care coverage, or expanding Medicaid despite an almost total federal subsidy, gutting environmental protections, signing laws that make it harder for non-Republicans to vote, ramming through fiscally tightwad policies that's gutted state support for public education, dissing public employees, and much more.

But there is one important difference. Read the Tampa Bay Times editorial and try to imagine any newspaper in this state (with the possible exception of the Madison Capital Times) ever writing something equally stark and shaming about Walker, who in addition to following the Scott prescription for social chaos has also been implicated in two wide-ranging criminal investigations involving his top aides and violations of campaign spending violatiions and misconduct in public office.

Even without a comparable scandal, the Tampa Bay newspaper nevertheless found plenty of harsh words for Florida's governor. The editorial was entitled, "If Gov. Rick Scott only had a heart":

"In three years Scott has done more harm than any modern governor, from voting rights to privacy rights, public schools to higher education, environmental protection to health care... . This is the tin man as governor, a chief executive who shows no heartfelt connection to the state, appreciation for its values or compassion for its residents."

Scott looks to be falling behind in his quest to win a second term -- unlike Walker, who has somehow managed to maintain a slim lead in early Wisconsin polling for his November re-election bid against Democrat Mary Burke. Accounting for that difference, one might point to Wisconsin's mainstream news media outlets. Collectively the state's most influential news organizations continue to take an amazingly lackadaisical stance on Walker's missteps, the state's lagging economy and growing social misery. Nope, nothing to see here! Move on!

So just image what might ensue if a newspaper in Wisconsin -- say, for instance, the state's biggest daily -- were to take just one paragraph from the Tampa Bay Tribune's withering criticism of Scott and rewrite it to apply to Walker. It wouldn't require changing many more words than the governor's last name, and a statistic or two. For instance:

"The state spends less per public school student than when Scott took office. Parents and teachers have lost faith in a school accountability system in chaos. College students hear the governor's disdain for a liberal arts education as he demands results on the cheap. Meanwhile, Scott eagerly promises hundreds of millions in tax breaks to businesses pledging to create jobs in future years. His administration approved nearly 350 job creation deals in his first three years in office, but only four jobs have been created for every 100 promised."

Sound at all familiar?

It's only April, but in Florida a full-blown revolt against a reckless, uncaring, destructive Republican governor is well underway, going right on up to key opinion leaders including major newspapers. In Wisconsin, meanwhile, a GOP governor, arguably an equal disaster, is for the most part getting a pass.

Until mainstream news media change their attittude toward what's going on in the Badger state, paying far more attention and taking a much more engaged and analytical approach, Walker's many flaws and missteps will continue to be of minor or even no  consequence and he could remain the frontrunner, especially given the tens of millions of dollars, much of it out-of-state money, that's likely to burst his campaign chest. Too many voters can be expected to take their cue from the media's largely laissez-faire stance on Walker to date.

Are mainstream news media in this state largely in the tank for Walker? Or will they finally dispense with "gotcha" reporting that's focused on trivia and process-driven stories about campaigning, instead paying more attention to what's actually happening to most of Wisconsin? You know, like their no-more and probably less liberal compatriots in Florida have been doing.


April 29, 2014 - 11:41pm