Keeping us divided -- The out-state robocalls flood in | WisCommunity

Keeping us divided -- The out-state robocalls flood in

The robocalls have been flooding in to our North Shore Milwaukee home, and so far most of them are not pretty.

[img_assist|nid=42524|title=Robocaller|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=150|height=225]They sound good at first. One that just commandeered our house phone a few minutes ago featured a pleasant female voice that told me calmly how out-of-state interests have tried to keep Wisconsin divided. The pitch sounded promising up through that declaration. But then the voice went on to explain that the way those out-of-state interests are keeping us divided is by asking us to support for state Supreme Court justice "a lawyer who has never been a judge.'

Given that David Prosser skipped right on up from legislator to justice with no judge in between, I guess that description technically would cover him. But no, the robocall is referring to JoAnne Kloppenburg. I guess serving years as a state assistant attorney general, as Kloppenburg did, trumps serving years as a county district attorney, as Prosser did in preparation for his stint as a GOP legislator and then a Supreme Court appointment by Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Another campaign call of interest came in last night, only it was live. The male caller began with a cold query: "I'm a volunteer, and I'd like to ask you just one question." My spouse replied: "You're a volunteer for whom or what?" Pause. "I'm a volunteer for Jeff Stone." That's all we heard, cutting the guy off. 

If Prosser manages to survive all his gaffes and his strong Walker connection, it won't be because he's more capable, or even-tempered, or thoughtful, or smart, or middle-of-the-road. It'll be because of millions of dollars from shadowy out-of-state groups run by the likes of Karl Rove and the Koch brothers, who are busy phoning up Wisconsin to warn us about out-of-state groups, smearing Kloppenburg in the process. At this rate, I'm half expecting a robocall from the Prossertarians asking me how often Kloppenburg beats her wife.

Of course, the conservative modus operandi of using robocalls to cast doubts and sow fear and uncertainty are a long tradition. Earlier this month, the Wisconsin chapter of the League of Women Voters had to send out letters and news releases defending itself when purposefully#474747; font-family: Trebuchet, 'Trebuchet MS', Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 18px;"> confusing robo-calls left the apparently purposeful impression that the league supports Gov. Scott Walker’s “budget repair” bill. The precise name of the organization was slurred at the beginning of the message, but the end of the call identifies the League of American Voters, a Washington-based right-wing group.

#474747; font-family: Trebuchet, 'Trebuchet MS', Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 16px;">

Andrea Kaminski, president of the Wisconsin League, said, "Some of the people who have contacted us about these venomous robo-calls were angry until we assured them that the call did not come from the League of Women Voters and that we do not support the governor’s bill. Others have been sympathetic because they know the voters are being scammed." 

#000000; line-height: normal;">Meanwhile, just how low have the Pulitzer Prize-winning Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's standards fallen? It used to be the newspaper would cease campaign coverage the weekend before an election, lest a candidate attempt to smear an opponent, who might not have time to reply. But here's this morning's Journal Sentinel, running a Politifact piece on Chris Abele and letters from readers. At least the letters were filtered to counter the paper's Sunday endorsements in the key Supreme Court and Milwaukee County executive races, but any student of journalism ethics has to think this over.

#000000; line-height: normal;"> Perhaps in an era where smears can flood the TV ad slots and the Internet right through voting hours, the paper's new stance on last-minute claims and charges can be justified. If so, the J-S has at best joined in the race to the bottom. Too bad the paper won't have time to report on any lte-breaking accusations that David Prosser stews pet bunnies for dinner. 


April 4, 2011 - 2:15pm