Poor MacIver Institute! All that right wing money and they still can't get it right. We here at Eye on Wisconsin are all too familiar with the rocky start that MacIver got when they prematurely launched. They had an organization with an invisible staff and many questions about their affiliations that never really got straight answers. The serious questions about this latest right wing organization only increase as time goes by.
In the beginning some flak for the organization (and apparently the only semi real staff person) publicly denied former speaker Scott Jensen's involvement in the organization. Almost right after those declarations, we found that actually Scott Jensen appeared to be writing MacIver's press releases. Apparently he was not too busy preparing for another criminal trial and apparently the truth was too much to ask for from MacIver. As if Jensen secretly writing the press releases wasn't enough of a tie, then the group hired his former chief of staff as its executive director and even put Jensen's favorite media guy in charge of communications.
Then rather than picking a right wing blogger of any substance, they went with the one that is about as extreme as they come. He was barely on the job cross posting between his own blog and MacIver's when he got a little uncomfortable attention. He made Dan Bice's Journal Sentinel column after he put out a string disgustingly racist comments on his Twitter account. MacIver didn't bat an eye about what most would consider unwelcome attention.
Now MacIver is getting some well deserved scrutiny over the latest in a series of questionable antics. Their latest hire is a former TV news guy that has decided to cross all sorts of lines in the name of MacIver. According to the story in the Wisconsin State Journal, Bill Osmulski (formerly of Madison's WKOW Channel 27) interviewed two Democrats and apparently pretended to be from a legitimate news operation while completely failing to notify them that the interview would also be used for right wing MacIver propaganda. Even MacIver's own communications person admits that now-fake TV reporter Osmulski should have been truthful with the elected officials and disclosed exactly what he was doing.
Given its track record in its very short life, I'm not exactly surprised at this latest development. I am however surprised that someone in the traditional media would actually accept and use Osmulski's report as a real news story. The fact that it was generated by a right wing organization powered by extreme ideology and a questionable track record, should have given them pause. But who really knows, maybe MacIver "punked" the media outlet just like they did with two of our public officials. Hopefully the majority of the media in the state will take the advice that we gave way back in early March when we wrote that the "Shady Organization Requires Real Reporting". Hopefully they will look extra close the next time that MacIver releases some "study" or "poll", and keep them from "punking" the public next.