You already know that, I hope, although most of the media either doesn’t or is pretending that it doesn’t. Ed wrote two separate posts last month after a clearly irritated federal judge issued an injunction shutting down prosecutors’ secret investigation of Walker and conservative groups for allegedly coordinating during his recall election campaign. That injunction came after conservatives sued the prosecutors claiming that the secret probe was violating their First Amendment rights. The court agreed, emphatically. A few months before that, a Wisconsin state judge quashed several subpoenas issued by investigators because they failed to show probable cause that any campaign-finance crimes had been committed. The documents unsealed yesterday that sent the left into raptures are simply allegations by the prosecutors made as part of the now-defunct (pending appeal, of course) case. And yet you’d never know it from media reports like this hack job at WaPo wondering how damaging his new “scandal” will be to Walker’s 2016 chances. The court rulings aren’t even mentioned. Imagine if someone was sued, won his case, and the media reports the next day focused only on the plaintiff’s accusations without mentioning the verdict. That’s how desperate the left and their friends in the press are to punish Walker for his dual affront of signing the collective barganing law and beating back a liberal challenge in the 2012 recall election. He’s got a knack for thwarting them and they know it; now they need to try to blow him up on the launchpad before he’s reelected again and looks to 2016.
If you’re looking for an all-purpose summary on this to send around on social media, this short piece by Gabe Malor detailing the legal posture of the case and why yesterday’s hyperventilating was so sleazy and dishonest is the way to go. It’s like a Voxsplainer, except smart and informative:
Upon the unsealing of some of the probe documents by the federal appeals court, the media worked itself into a frenzy claiming that Walker was part of a criminal conspiracy. The media claim was based entirely on the subpoena document that was denied by the state judge as failing utterly to demonstrate probable cause to believe a crime occurred. In short: the judge, looking at all the evidence, found no reason to believe that a crime had occurred. That has not stopped the media from falsely implying otherwise.
This is largely accomplished by playing with verb tense. For example, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel kicked off this infuriating libel with a piece that claimed, “John Doe prosecutors allege Scott Walker at center of ‘criminal scheme.’” The more accurate word, of course, would have been “alleged,” past-tense with the addition of the words “in denied subpoena request” or perhaps “in failed partisan investigation” or even “in politically-motivated secret investigation rejected by the state and federal courts.”
The New York Times, trumpeting the story on today’s front page, also uses the present tense to give the wrong impression.
They’re deliberately misleading people by minimizing or outright omitting the fact that two different courts have looked at these charges and sneered at them. And they’re doing this in service to a dubious secret investigation of political opponents that aimed for maximum humiliation, involving searches “conducted by six armed sheriff’s deputies with flak vests, bright lights … aimed at the [defendant’s] houses, and multiple vehicles parked on the lots, police lights ablaze.” When it comes to Hillary destroying a 12-year-old rape victim to protect her client, notes David Harsanyi, they’re all about due process. When it comes to harassing their partisan enemies with tactics that have twice been smashed in court, you’re guilty until proven innocent. Good work, progressives.
Exit question: Any theories on why trust in the media has reached historic lows?