Tuesday, September 08, 2009

MacIver Punks Press, Pols and Public

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.


Anonymous said...

he must have studied at the charles sykes/liz woodhouse school of deception

Fraley said...

Cory, feel free to correct the lies contained within your post at your convenience. For example, Bill Osmulski never 'pretended' to be working for any organization. Channel 18 GAVE HIM THEIR CAMERA to cover a public event. Per their agreement, the footage was shared with MacIver.

Do you think so little of Sen. Kreitlow and Congressman Obey that you presume they would say something different to a reporter based on their audience? Really?

It is significant to note that there has been absolutely no criticism of the story that the Rep. Obey interview produced. There were no claims of manipulation, misquoting or bias. It was a genuine news story and is recognized as such.

Then why is this interview controversial? Could it be that our politicians are nervous that the American public is now finding out the rhetoric used to justify the trillion dollar stimulus bill does not match reality?

Cory Liebmann said...

I wouldn't talk about lies too much, you work for an org that lied to the press about Scott Jensen's involvement only days after it "launched".

It seems pretty clear that the entire reason for doing these interviews was to put out right wing propaganda...he couldn't do it as MacIver so he did it under Channel 18 cover...but lets not pretend that this was a legit news operation at any point. The blurring of the lines that MacIver is trying to do here should concern any real reporter.

The people that he interviewed are saying that he never mentioned that he was working for MacIver and that the interview would be used by them...some may call that a lie of omission. Probably not a good practice if you want to be taken seriously.

Given your comments, can we expect Paul Ryan to agree to an interview with Michael Moore anytime soon? Maybe we could fool Ryan by pretending that it was for legit news and then just repackage it for partisan purposes. MacIver just tried a much lower scale version of that example (no offense to Mr. Moore).

Fraley said...

Again, it is significant to note that there has been absolutely NO criticism of the story that the Rep. Obey interview produced. There were NO claims of manipulation, misquoting or bias.

As we said when we announced Bill's hiring:

...Healy says he hopes MacIver can help fill a void in locally-produced news coverage and analysis that grows larger by the day as news operations are scaled back for economic reasons.

"We are all worse off for the fact that the number of reporters watching proceedings in state and local government has rapidly declined in recent years," said Healy. "The more eyes paying attention to what is going on in Madison and within local governments in Wisconsin, the better."

Apparently you think it is a good thing to have fewer eyes watching what's going on? Odd take for a self-proclaimed investigator.

Cory Liebmann said...

Yeah, I read what Healy said and this rehash was just as gag inducing as the first time that I read it. I’m sure MacIver’s only interest is in helping out the poor little media with “objective” reporting. I’m sure they have no interest at all in trying to move issues one way or another. I suppose it is just a coincidence that they are run by all the same right wing partisans, and funded by all of the usual sugar daddies on the extreme right.

I have no problem at all with more “eyes watching what is going on”…I just have a problem with trying to pass off a clearly biased set of eyes as being objective ones.