The protests in Wisconsin have captivated the attention of many people in America although in some areas the media has been remiss to carry the story in depth or detail. This past week a blogger ‘pranked’ Governor Walker by pretending to be billionaire conservative oil magnate David Koch and the Internet lit up after the 20-plus minute telephone conversation was aired on MSNBC and other political programs. The recorded call between Walker and the prankster, although interesting, revealed absolutely nothing newsworthy except to verify what news junkies and politicos have known all along about the Koch brothers’ influence with Walker.
Another prankster who is an ultra-right-wing, ex-teabagger with a radio show wrote a blog post detailing his plans to infiltrate union demonstrations to sabotage the rallies and the blogosphere absolutely lit up with outrage. In fact, many bloggers saw the letter on the social media outlet Twitter and immediately wrote blog posts about the outrageous, underhanded tactics the right would use to subvert peaceful demonstrations. There is nothing like a good headline to bring traffic to a website.
The problem with both stories is that they are merely distractions from the serious work and sacrifice being made to protect the rights of ordinary public employees. The main-stream-media outlets had the foresight to ignore both of the prank stories which is surprising; sensationalism sells air-time and newspapers. Most television stations and national news organizations are owned by corporations that may have a stake in breaking the unions, so maybe they were protecting their interests by not exposing Walker’s union-busting scheme.
The man who publicized his plans to sabotage the protests is a devious piece-of-work who is well known for his views and extremism. He is not worthy of the letters to spell his name and his plans do not merit any space, but they were nothing short of thuggery. If he was successful, only the most avid right-wing Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck listener would have believed he was real. His letter was little more than a vindictive teenager’s angst-laden rant that the left latched on to like they found the Holy Grail.
Governor Walker’s taped telephone conversation showed that he is little more than a corrupt politician and a power-hungry little man-puppy to David Koch. The blogger who played the prank on Walker had the best of intentions and certainly got his 15 minutes of fame, but there were no bombshells or revelations in the 20-plus minute joke. Regardless the entertainment value, the prank call was about as noble as the teabagger’s infiltration scheme.
Maybe it lacked the ‘thug’ value the teabagger’s blog-post had, but it was a dishonest teenage ‘crank-call’ that failed in the humor category. There is no doubt it rankled any decent human being who expects our elected officials to operate with higher ethical standards, but it was a sneaky trick. The governor was a fool for not asking if the call was recorded or monitored, but he was so tickled that Koch called him personally, it probably slipped his mind. After the call was broadcast on news outlets, the governor was probably cursing the left-wing extremist for his underhanded trick and undoubtedly commiserated with his conservative cohorts about the dirty liberals.
Most political junkies are aware that Republicans use subterfuge and dirty tricks to game the system and influence the narrative whether it is swift boat attacks or Fox News airing doctored video footage. It is dastardly and causes outrage on the left. It is curious then, that the left was so excited that one their own pulled a deceitful trick that did not reveal any new information. It was also curious that the bloggers and left’s pundits harangued the teabagger for his treachery but lionized the prank phone caller. There were a slew of stories from MSNBC programs and outraged left-wing bloggers about the conversation, but nothing Earth-shattering came from either story. All the while, important events are being ignored for the sensational headlines.
There has been little news about the Democratic Wisconsin senators who are legally holding up the vote in Wisconsin. Their sacrifice is the reason Governor Walker has not been able to put an end to collective bargaining; not a prank phone call or letter exposing plans to sabotage protests. There are myriad issues this country is facing that need activism and publicity instead of underhanded tricks.
The stories showed that the right is full of subterfuge and dirty tricks; it is how they operate as a matter of course. It is in the public record that the Koch Brothers have a vested interest in breaking the unions and that Scott Walker is their operative on the front lines; the blogger was not revealing new information by releasing the taped phone conversation. What is news is that thousands of people are on the streets in Wisconsin in a show of force that is gaining national attention.
The protests did not happen by accident and they inform the American people, governors around the country, and Republicans that working people will not allow politicians to destroy their ability to organize and bargain collectively without a fight. The demonstrators and Democratic senators are making a difference using legal means and organization; not dirty tricks or covert phone calls. They are in the open demonstrating for their livelihood and security the way upstanding Americans are prone to do.
A smart man said recently that gimmicks distract from the importance of real organization and sacrifice and he was entirely correct. The two gimmicks this past week distracted from the news that women and poor people are under direct attack from Republicans in the House. The EPA, Planned Parenthood, high-speed rail, community health programs, and numerous safety nets are being gutted by Republicans and the news cycle was rife with stories about a couple of gimmicks.
Thousands of protesters are on the streets to protect democracy and their rights because of real organization and sacrifice. Perhaps the left can see it in their hearts to bring attention to the plight of women and the poor and stop giving attention to teenage pranks. Imagine if thousands of people in every major city protested the cuts to programs for the poor and unemployed.
Imagine a hundred-thousand voices in every major city protesting the unrelenting attacks on women. The silence is deafening and shameful.