What’s most amusing about this 2600º F take from Rolling Stone over a press release? Answer A: The magazine’s own utter lack of journalistic credibility. Answer B: The greasily obsequious fanboy-ism of Rolling Stone toward Richard Trumka, whom Scott Walker trounced in three Wisconsin elections. Answer C: The fact that the editors signed off on this “analysis” at all, especially for the fifth-grade insults that form the intellectual core of Simon Vozick-Levinson’s article.
The correct answer is … D — All of the above:
A top union leader just issued the best press release ever. In six words, he destroyed Scott Walker: http://t.co/BoZNnr0bHD
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) July 13, 2015
Destroyed! Destroyed, Vozick-Levinson insists, despite all indications that Walker still plans on doing some actual campaigning. If you’re wondering how Vozick-Levinson (and Rolling Stone’s editors) consider Trunka’s ad hominem press release to be destroying, all you have to do is read the actual argument from Vozick-Levinson, which is so bad that it deserves to be enshrined in a Poynter how-not-to-do-analysis primer in the future:
To be clear, Walker has basically zero chance at winning the White House. His charisma level hovers somewhere beneath a block of Wisconsin cheese – frankly, even comparing the man to a piece of cheese is a little insulting to his home state’s lauded dairy farms. All evidence suggests that he would be really, really bad at selling his really, really bad ideas to the American public in a general election. But now that he’s officially in the race, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has issued one of the best press releases in political history in response to Walker’s announcement.
Really? “One of the best press releases in political history,” eh? Is there a Flack Hall of Fame where one goes to make that determination? Is this the first press release that Simon Vozick-Levinson has ever read?
Everyone was super impressed by this, of course. Most of us were just wondering when the corpse would stop twitching:
Can Scott Walker recover from this devastating press release? https://t.co/pLpGRm8Wsj
— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) July 13, 2015
Others were wondering the same thing, only about Rolling Stone:
What pathetic, disgraced, non-journalistic endeavor actually thought that Trumka statement hurt Walker? Of course.https://t.co/VnmIDeywHE
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) July 13, 2015
We’ve been asking that since December. Notably, Rolling Stone keeps getting worse rather than better.
Perhaps Vozick-Levinson is unfamiliar with Trumka’s record in Wisconsin, so allow us to fill in the blanks. The AFL-CIO did its best to beat Walker in 2010 … and lost. After Walker pushed the Act 10 reforms, the labor unions tried to shut down the capitol in Madison … and lost. The unions, led by Trumka, tried recalling Scott Walker and enough legislators in 2012 to reverse Act 10 … and lost. They then tried beating Walker in 2014 in order to repeal the law … and lost.
Issuing six-word insults by press release is not an indication of “destroying” someone. It’s a sign that someone has already been destroyed, and wants to avoid getting destroyed again. When Vozick-Levinson completes his Baghdad Bob Fellowship at Rolling Stone, he might want to look into that.
Meanwhile, my friend across the political aisle Jill Lawrence explains one reason the Left should be afraid of Walker — his marriage to Tonette:
Unintimidated is the title of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s book, the title of his SuperPAC, and the thematic spine of his presidential campaign. It is of course a reference to his knock-down, drag-out fight with state worker unions, and his subsequent triumphs in politics and policy.
The protracted showdown over collective bargaining rights revealed the small-town pastor’s son with the low-key manner to be unusually audacious and persistent, as well as undeterred by custom or convention. None of that would have surprised anyone familiar with the story of his marriage — a revelatory tale that should make smart Democrats nervous about Mr. Unintimidated. …
Walker, a conservative who had started running for office at 22, managed to convince not only Tonette but her Democratic, union-member parents. The age difference “was more of an issue to my family than him being a Republican,” Tonette toldBrava Magazine in Madison just before Walker took office in 2011. Now, her Democratic upbringing long behind her, she is a full political partner to her husband and an effective public champion for him.
Walker’s dogged pursuit of an older woman bruised by tragedy is consistent with his damn-the-torpedoes conservative governance in a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984. A lot of people were shell-shocked, but in retrospect, they shouldn’t have been. His marriage was an early example of his disregard for the usual path and in fact a sign that he thrives on the challenges of going off-road.
It’s yet another aspect of a man who became a quiet fighter in the trenches against people like Trumka — and how people like Vozick-Levinson get Walker totally wrong time and after time.
Update: Noted without further comment: Simon Vozick-Levinson is a senior editor at Rolling Stone, according to his verified Twitter account.