Aug
07
2011

WI Democrats make (illiterate) threats to news organization.

Said threats being made by one Graeme Zielinski, communications director (his title will be funny in a moment; trust me) for the Wisconsin Democratic party – and my, but did he ever communicate!  And more than Zielinski really intended to, methinks.

Background information: there’s a site called WisconsinReporter.com.  They apparently cover Wisconsin local politics – of which there’s been quite a bit lately that’s been of interest on a national level, of course – and earlier in the week the site reported on an interview that Governor Scott Walker did with the Heritage Foundation.  In the process of that article, WisconsinReporter.com noted two things:

  1. Wisconsin reportedly added 9,500 jobs in June.  This is technically the same number as half the net jobs created nationwide in the US (direct comparisons are really sort of… imprecise).
  2. And that Zielinski was – in the process of using language that, while not actually profane, was not exactly professional – touting Illinois’s job-creation credentials, despite the fact that Illinois reportedly lost a net 18,900 jobs in June.

So far, so… not really that much of a thing, is it?  Certainly not something that would spark a threat of going after press credentials.  At least, not something that would spark a threat that would be made by normal people.

Alas, it would seem that the Democratic party is undergoing a good deal of stress lately (Glenn Reynolds [H/T] calls it ‘cracking up’, which sounds about right); because Zielinski went, to be charitable about it, a little crazy at this point.  After castigating the author of the piece and complaining that the original article made him and his party “look even smaller” in the process, Graeme Zielinski went on to demonstrate that he was capable of making him and his party look smaller all on his own, via a direct threat:

What happens next is that I contact the publishers and editors of the papers that publish you as ‘unbiased,’ and let them know our deep concern about the obvious bias that permeates your entire operation.  Then, we let our activists know which papers publish you, and they write the publisher and editor. Then, we contact the Capitol press pool and let them know about our concerns about your credentialing.  And we continue on until you actually admit to the truth of your operation.

Mark Tapscott sums it up best: “Zeilinski’s email could easily be read as a threat to organize union demonstrators against Wisconsin newspapers that publish reporting provided to them by WisconsinReporter.com’s staff. And his vow to go after WisconsinReporter.com’s capitol media credentials is an obvious effort to silence a news organization with which he disagrees.”  Which will of course backfire: the executive director for the Wisconsin News Association has already categorized this threat as ‘out there,’ and I suspect that the clock is already ticking on the inevitable retraction.

Which will probably be highly petulant, ungracious, and whiny, but then, that’s the Wisconsin Democratic party for you.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: Oh, almost forgot.  As for why I used the word ‘illiterate’ in the title: the email that Zielinski sent had at least one howler that only avoids being a Freudian slip because I don’t actually believe that the author has a high enough command of Standard English.  Said howler:

“In your Walker water-carrying article, you made all sorts of arguments for Scott Walker, then used a snippet of my quote, and then used apposite information to debate me. IN MY OWN QUOTE. I’ve never seen that before in my life,” Zielinski wrote in the email to the staff writer.

I assume that the fellow meant ‘opposite;’ as it happens, ‘apposite‘ means ‘highly pertinent.’  I know, I know: Zielinski spell-checked his email.  That’s not enough.

PPS: Good job getting this story out into wider circulation, Zielinski.  Particularly since people outside of Republican circles are lining up to politely ask you what the heck your party thought that it was trying to accomplish, here.

9 Comments

  • BigGator5 says:

    I think it was Mark Twain that said: “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrell (or the more modern version: bandwidth by the terabyte).”
    _
    That quote and its meaning should be the first thing any political operative should learn. Hell, even I am trying to make friends with the local press pool.

    • Moe_Lane says:

      Speaking as somebody who does interviews, what works best for getting a good reaction from me is people who neither try to BS me, nor try to truckle too much. I like serious-minded people who don’t try to control the narrative, and who respect the skills.

      But I’m a partisan hack; how your local press rolls is not really something I’m qualified to opine on. :)

  • BigGator5 says:

    The columnists here are left-wing partisan hacks, but the reporters are generally fair (if not always over-hyperventilating).
    _
    Still, it’s a bad idea to go around personally insulting press people and threating them at any level. You can say their article is outragous and try to correct the record as best you can, but what Graeme Zielinski did was wrong. He made a small story, bigger.

  • Jeff Weimer says:

    “This economic success is predicated on low wages, low benefits and a workforce that’s going to have to slither on its belly, thanks to Scott Walker,” Zielinski said.

    He pointed to nearby Illinois as outpacing Wisconsin’s economy, but the Land of Lincoln added 18,900 to its unemployed rolls in June, pushing the state’s total jobless to 603,700 people.

    I think the above is what Zielinski is talking about. While it may be a snippet of his quote, it appears they paraphrased him when they hit him with the jobs number. So nothing was IN HIS OWN QUOTE. Or am I missing something?

    • Moe_Lane says:

      That might have been it, Jeff. The really funny part about this whole thing is that the Democrats could have put together a real critique on some of the stuff in the original article: I’m not sure that it’s really meaningful to compare Wisconsin’s net job performance to net national levels, or the net job performance of Illinois. It’s not awful to do it, but statistical analysis is harder than it looks. But the Democrats have as their spokesman a dweeb who likes to talk about punching Republicans, and we’re now seeing why this is… suboptimal.

  • Jeff Weimer says:

    True, but the easy nuts to nuts comparison is that Wisconsin gained jobs, while Illinios lost them in the same time period. That still stings, and broadly refutes Zielinski’s desperate attempt to throw a smokescreen.

    Besides, it’s highly entertaining to watch a Democrat whine and moan about “media bias”.

  • Jeff Weimer says:

    And he was whining that the reporter told him to prove his assertions – calling it “not reporting”. It seems to him a reporter who shows any skepticism with his talking points isn’t doing his (or her) job.

  • Ric Locke says:

    Well, Jeff, that’s just it.

    The Press have been reprinting DNC press releases without even correcting the spelling errors for so long now that Democrats expect it as a Law of Nature. A few of the (mostly local) reporters have waked to the need to protect their phony-baloney jobs, and to the likes of Zielinsky that’s about like having a zoo monkey produce an M-16.

    It won’t affect the upper levels in the near future — “Pinch” hands out the phony-baloney jobs, and his is secure. The stir in the lower ranks is fun to watch, though.

    Regards,
    Ric

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