Saturday, August 17th, 2019

New Republic misses story of Walker success


Waukesha Freeman June 19, 2014 Page A6 Opinion

New Republic misses story of Walker success

Article wallows in gossip rather than examining record

Should I take the cheap shot right away? It’d be hard to believe the magazine famous for publishing Stephen Glass could be so bad at factchecking. The New Republic’s hit piece, “The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker,” is riddled with errors.
Before we even begin tackling the premise of the article, we have to laugh at the mistakes. On his program, WTMJ’s Charlie Sykes points out he did not even have a radio show when Jesse Anderson killed his wife at Northridge Mall. The source for the allegation that Sykes had something to do with the decline of Northridge was a disgraced ex-Milwaukee County Board member who has a blog.

On his program, WISN’s Mark Belling pointed out he never supported President Jimmy Carter. He did support Democrats at one time (as did Sykes), but Belling even voted for John Anderson in 1980.

The most ridiculous part of the article is its dependence on Christopher Terry, who the article claims worked for Belling. Belling told his audience he couldn’t remember Terry. Sykes learned from Terry that he only produced part of one show for Belling. As for the supposed Walker hotline to Belling, no such line exists.

By the way, Terry teaches journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is a recall petition signer, according to Sykes. Right, no agenda there.

But why would The New Republic want to wallow in bad gossip about talk radio in an article about Gov. Scott Walker? Because the gossip fed the narrative the author, senior editor Alec MacGillis, wanted to write.

MacGillis claims that Walker is not presidential material because Walker is supposedly the product of racially divisive politics that will not have the broad appeal necessary to win. Because MacGillis cannot find anything racist about Walker, MacGillis has to focus on Walker’s supposed racist political environment.

Get ready for this. Yes, you’re all racists. Or at least those of you who fled Milwaukee County in the 1960s and the 1970s for Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties. Never mind the failing schools, the rising crime and the rising taxes. If you left Milwaukee County, it’s because you’re racist.

MacGillis, who apparently stayed at a Holiday Inn the weekend he was here and instantly became an expert on Wisconsin politics, notes that the political leanings of the city of Milwaukee are different than the political leanings of the surrounding communities. I know you’re shocked at this revelation.

Because of these sharp divisions, Walker can apparently count on a base of support outside Milwaukee County to support his policies. And the reason the suburbanites support Walker is not because he advances good conservative policies, but because suburbanites are racist.

This deep-seeded racism is spread and encouraged by conservative talk radio, according to this analysis. No, MacGillis cannot point to any actual racism on talk radio. The “best” example he can draw upon is a bad impression of Congressman Gwen Moore by Belling. That’s not racism, that’s Belling using too high of a pitch in his voice.

If this attack on suburban support for Walker sounds familiar, it should. Waukesha was recently called racist for the same reasons by the owner of Penzeys Spices. It’s a common theme among the left, specifically Milwaukee urban elites, that the suburbs must be racist or else they would support the same left-wing policies that have dragged Milwaukee down.

Bill Penzey will not be the last local figure to repeat this libel. MacGillis of The New Republic will not be the last person to try to tar Walker like this.

In the meantime, a magazine that was once known for its deep policy analysis of government reforms misses the entire success of the Walker experiment. Taxes are going down. Government spending is under control. The state’s budgets are closer to balance than they were under Walker’s two predecessors.

Instead of focusing on the racial divides, the magazine could have noted the expansion of school choice, a program that disproportionately benefits minority students.

The problem is those stories don’t fit in with the narrative MacGillis had even before the wheels of his plane touched the ground at Mitchell International. At least the Stephen Glass stories were funnier.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.) 

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