That time Blaska kicked a reporter out of the Governor’s Office

While toiling for Gov. Tommy Thompson in the East Wing of the State Capitol, I thought it wise to inform his chief of staff of what had just occurred in the communications office.

“I just kicked Matt Pommer out of the office.”

The chief of staff, John Matthews (not to be confused with the MTI union boss), gave a silent thumbs up and then went back to his work.

This was in 1998 and Pommer, chief political writer for The Capital Times, had just bylined a Page One article headlined “Taxin’ and Spendin’ Tommy Thompson,” complete with a chart showing that the Republican had increased spending. (And mocking Tommy’s very-Wisconsin syntax.) The article was completely dishonest because it made no mention of a landmark achievement of Tommy’s governance: the State of Wisconsin had just picked up two-thirds of the cost of K-12 education, thereby giving real relief to over-burdened local property tax payers.

But that was The Capital Times. Its idea of presenting both sides of an issue was to headline Democrats’ dismay over Republican legislation — usually accompanied by wild allegations of devil worship — then, buried deep in the jump, disclaim: “Republicans denied the charges.”

Tommy would say, “I could walk across Lake Mendota from the governor’s residence to the Capitol and The Capital Times would write ‘Governor can’t swim.'”

(We remember editor Dave Zweifel chortling as he stood over the late Dan Allegretti, who was pounding out a hit piece on Judge Ralph Adam Fine, then running for state supreme court. Fine, a conservative jurist, was an egomaniac, the “news” story posited. The proof: the jurist decorated his courthouse office with photographs he took himself. Yes, the judge was an amateur photographer!)

In other words, nothing has changed.

Institutional bias

Now, Matt Pommer (a genial man, happily still with us) was never excluded from a press conference; Matt kept his desk in the Capitol Press Room. It was only from our working space in the governor’s office from which he had been booted. In fact, few reporters ventured there, deep within the bowels of the Capitol.

So, we sympathize with Donald Trump getting tough on “the press.” They’ve never been fair to conservatives.

(Well do we remember the New York Times hit piece on George Bush Sr. Supposedly, Bush One was gobsmacked by a supermarket checkout scanner. Proof of how out of touch this son of Wall Street was with the common man. Written by a reporter who wasn’t even there; he ran with a pool account.

(The message from this 1992 “news story”? Vote for Bill Clinton! Perhaps Bush Senior should have stifled a yawn. He infamously did check his watch during a debate.)

That said, a few pointed jabs from Trump at last week’s press conference would have sufficed. But, it must be noted, Trump took tough questions from all comers, even from CNN. Which IS crazy biased. There is no excuse for Jake Tapper or Don Lemon.

Then again, there is no excuse for Sean Hannity except that the New York Times and the Washington Post and Dan Rather and Brian Williams made Hannity and Rush, Breitbart and Coulter.

In praise of adversaries

There is nothing wrong with an adversarial relationship between the President and the institutional news media (aka “The Press”). What is wrong is the institutional bias in favor of Big Gummint, its disdain for religion, traditional values, gun rights, etc.

What is new is that the President is fighting back. Maybe harder than he needs to. But he is fighting back.

And the news media landscape has changed. No longer does his message need be filtered through the Big Three networks. Print is disappearing, whether at The Capital Times or its big city cousins, whether in Milwaukee or New York. It is why Trump tweets (though we wish he would not).

Back to my story, set in 1998. Tommy was up for election that year. As he walked through the hallway a week or two later, he stuck his head into the communications office.

“David, you never kick a reporter out of the office the week before an election.” Then he was off to a speech or ribbon cutting somewhere in Wisconsin. Probably accompanied by an over-sized check.

That was Tommy Thompson, who would go on to be an early endorser of Donald Trump, who has decidedly different views of the “press.”

Blaska — on the other hand — was Never Hillary/Never Trump and expects fairness from the news media. There’s irony for you!


About David Blaska

Madison WI
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16 Responses to That time Blaska kicked a reporter out of the Governor’s Office

  1. old baldy says:

    What Dave fails to recall is that Tommy was a tax and spend guy. Pommer was right and was calling TGT for what he was. He spent a fortune on unneeded prisons, switched gears and spent another fortune on unneeded highways, changed the school funding formula into a Ponzi scheme that already had failed in Michigan. Then he walked away left McCallum a huge deficit that Doyle inherited, which was later used as an excuse by walker to cut those state school aids dave is bragging about. Talk about revisionist history and alternative facts, dave, you take the cake.


    • David Blaska says:

      “Unneeded prisons?” Have his successors closed any prisons? Name them, pls. (Talk about revisionist history!) Yes, the economy did falter and yes, TGT spent on infrastructure (particularly highways) and welfare reform. But his school funding formula to this day still shores up less affluent school districts, rewards fiscal stewardship and punishes profligacy. An honest news report would have recorded that Tommy lifted two-thirds of school funding off the regressive property tax and onto the statewide corporate and personal income tax.

      Is your cake chocolate, Baldy?


      • old baldy says:

        I’m not much of a cake guy. Just like you aren’t much for truthiness and history. TGT spent a ton on prisons, got them all filled up and now we are paying to incarcerate folks at a much higher rate than our neighbors (check out MN). Heck, we even bought a failed private facility in Stanley. Highways 2020 put big $$ into districts with big R supporters and built 4 lane facilities where none were needed (and still aren’t). And nothing I said about the school funding formula is incorrect, TGT borrowed the idea from his buddy from MI even after it had failed as a long-term solution. Take a look at how walker has treated rural schools since he has been in office. It ain’t pretty.

        TGT created the big deficit that walker used and is still using as an excuse to turn WI into MS. You can look it up.


  2. David Blaska says:

    Baldy, you tell me which prisoners you want released into your neighborhood. Talk to Madison police; they’re frustrated at the catch and release of the same gang bangers time after time. Then tell me how many of those prisons Jim Doyle shut down in his 8 years. Unneeded highways? Like Highway 12 between Sauk City and Middleton? AKA Death Alley before it was made four lane? Madison’s Beltline? Now, what in heaven’s name is YOUR school funding formula? Time to produce something better than phlegm, Baldy.


    • old baldy says:

      Dave, that is your big failing- your inability to see big picture,i.e., legislation by anecdote. Sure, there are folks that need to stay in prison, sure there are roads that needed to be re-built, but that doesn’t justify the big picture results. You did nothing to defend TGT, just made my point.

      Rural schools in WI are getting screwed. Look it up. Voucher schools are draining resources from public schools. Explain how running two parallel systems, one accountable, one not, is going to be cost effective. You have been living in the Emerald City too long, dave. There is more to WI than your little Stately Manor.


      • David Blaska says:

        Is that all you’ve got? You can’t name one road that shouldn’t be built? Just “big picture results” (whatever that means)? Now you’re defending Milwaukee’s failed public schools? 26,000 poor Milwaukee kids CHOSE vouchers because they wanted OUT.


  3. David Blaska says:

    Ol Baldy attempted a comment that disparaged the Squire personally. It now resides in the Trash. You don’t come into the Stately Manor and insult your host. One more like that and he is banned permanently. If you can’t debate without ad hominem attacks, you can go elsewhere.


  4. old baldy says:

    So much for the free speech you are always trumpeting. I didn’t “attempt” anything, and I made no “ad hominem’ attacks on you or anyone else, I just said you are entitled to your opinion, not your own set of facts. It appears that on your new site only those in the same echo chamber are welcomed. As they say, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got”.


    • Brenda Konkel's midget servant says:

      Actually, everyone is entitled to their own set of facts. A fact is a fact. That’s your problem if you don’t like a particular fact or set of facts. progressives don’t understand the arguments against their positions because they believe their opponents are too stupid and/or racist to be argued with, so they perpetually engage in rhetorical shadowboxing. Since the left can’t argue with sets of facts they don’t like, they do what they do, they do what we see here, they demand that the counter party’s hands be tied by denying them use of certain facts.

      There are no sparing rules in politics, just in your low IQ head. That’s why progressives aren’t really prepared to be called a liar when they simper like girls and spout egregious lies. When you’re ready to step up with something besides antiwhite racist paranoia, let us know.


      • old baldy says:

        “Actually, everyone is entitled to their own set of facts. A fact is a fact”.

        Quite a contradiction, and it only took two short sentences. True, a fact is a fact, and regardless of your opinion, facts are still facts. Facts don’t care what you believe.

        So rather than argue the facts, or dave’s erroneous interpretation of them, you go right to the name-calling and the dreaded “ad hominem” attacks. Yet you aren’t threatened with banishment, perhaps because you support the alternative set of facts. Good to know censorship is alive and well at the stately manor…


      • Brenda Konkel's midget servant says:

        Tony Robinson was high on mushrooms and partaking in drug deals. Have fun with that set of facts. We all know why they got pushed aside.


      • that's not allowed! says:

        “you aren’t threatened with banishment”

        That’s a progressive thing. We just voted that out.

        Typical. A prog demanding a safe space because they aren’t smart enough to deal with adversity.

        Didn’t you read the value system for this blog? There is no threatening and intimidating away other people’s speech and deleting their comments, like on Brenda Konkel’s blog.


      • Eric Z says:

        Simper like girls….. I suppose they shouldnt be allowed to vote either. And make sure they walk at least 10 paces behind their man.


    • Brenda Konkel's midget servant says:

      There’s the shadow boxing again.


  5. Dan B. says:

    Blaska’s ban list runs deep, much deeper than his skin, apparently.


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