Our liberal-progressive-socialist acquaintances are in high dudgeon over A.G. Brad Schimel’s unmasking of the star chamber suppression of political speech in Wisconsin, particularly by the Government Accountability Board (GAB). (His report here.)
Our acquaintances are baying for the hides of those who protested their treatment at the hands of the speech police, blinding klieg lights and battering rams at the ready in their pre-dawn raids on private homes.
First Dan Bice at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Now Matt Rothschild (formerly of The Progressive) at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Add Bruce Murphy at Urban Milwaukee. They make the same charge: Schimel went after an illegal leak to The Guardian USA, presumably by the very investigators who were demanding confidentiality from the victims of their probe. (Presumably leaked to influence a pending U.S. Supreme Court decision on the matter.)
“Schimel hypocritically investigated one leak but not another,” Matt grieves. “There is no mystery about one leak of the John Doe material. … it was actually committed by one of the persons being investigated: Eric O’Keefe of Wisconsin Club for Growth.”
He intentionally violated the secrecy order by going to the Wall Street Journal and then bragged about doing it on rightwing talk radio. Schimel did not pursue O’Keefe, however, for leaking. Why the double standard?
In other words, why didn’t you prosecute the victim of this illegal search? Never mind that three different courts, in different ways — ordered a stop to the speech police inquiry.
Imagine reporters and good government goo goos demanding the leakers of the Pentagon Papers be prosecuted but manicuring their fingernails when government agents hoover up dirt on private individuals engaged in the practice of democracy — or advising their daughters on personal health care.
More First Amendment protections than the average bear
Matt Rothschild’s “Democracy Campaign” has this in common with most journalists — people like Bice, Murphy, and Chris Rickert of the Wisconsin State Journal, to name just a few. (Rickert once called the victims of the John Doe “whiners.”)
They believe newspapers deserve special plenipotentiary powers as the unbiased gatekeepers of political information. Only “professional journalists” are qualified to determine what information is true and relevant. More First Amendment protection than the average bear. Everyone else must report to Big Government for permission to speak, what they may say, when they may say it, and with whom they may converse. No “collusion” on issues of their own governance permitted.
It’s why neither newspaper will denounce the “weaponization” of government speech watchdogs “by partisans in furtherance of political goals,” as Schimel put it — even if their haul of half a million e-mails included correspondence between Senator Leah Vukmir and her daughter, some containing private medical information. Much of this information was placed in a folder labeled “Opposition Research.”
No corporate speech unless it’s a newspaper corporation
Which makes this reader letter in today’s Wall Street Journal a timely prophylactic: “The Times is for corporate speech, after all.” Excerpted here:
… The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. F.E.C. that corporations have First Amendment rights, but the Times’s editorial board has despised that ruling from day one as much as it now loathes President Trump. According to the Times, in 2010 Citizens United was a disastrous ruling that “thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century.”
… The New York Times Company is a corporation with the largest share of its publicly traded Class A common stock held by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. Now that the Times’s editorial board has pushed the politicking envelope beyond opinion pages and biased news articles into direct grass-roots lobbying against GOP policies, the thin protective veneer of journalistic integrity is gone and raw corporate power and interests are exposed.
Citizens United undermined the old media monopoly that gave a handful of mostly liberal corporations free rein in political reporting and influence over public-policy debates. The monopoly was busted (more by technology and social media than by Citizens United) and organizations such as the Times now are willing to take their journalistic gloves off to advance ideological and corporate agendas.
Murphy suggests citizen O’Keefe is not deserving of sympathy. He is, after all, a “controversial right-wing hit man.” By which he means O’Keefe has worked with conservative organizations and political leaders.
When GAB general counsel Shane Falk groused darkly that “our state is being run by corporations and billionaires,” he was channeling the same paranoia Murphy, Comrade Nichols and Capitol occupiers exhibit when they keep losing elections. The wrong people keep winning. They must be stopped by whatever means. Even with battering rams.