Journal Communication's right-wing talker Charlie Sykes (WTMJ Radio 620), delights in stirring controversy. But last week he went too far. In a segment discussing whether food stamp recipients should be allowed to buy unhealthy food, Sykes played a clip of an incredibly offensive video that is a favorite of neo-Nazi websites.
Dwelling on a popular Sykes topic the "growing gigantic culture of dependent people" or "moocher culture," Sykes slips in a long clip (at 29.20) where the voice of an African American woman can be heard listing all the fast food joints -- even liquor stores -- where one can allegedly use an electronic benefits (EBT) card. Sykes did not explain the clip or where it originated. The full song portrays women as having kids in order to receive food stamps to fund a party lifestyle. (For the record, you can't buy booze with food stamps.)
The clip is part of a video "It's Free, Swipe Yo EBT" made by a young woman named LaToya "Chapter" Hicks, but the production credits go to Christopher Jackson. He is reportedly the same Christopher Jackson who wrote an incredibly offensive piece about teaching black children, another fave of the "we heart Hitler" crowd. The Jackson essay is featured on the white nationalist site WhiteReference.org and Chapter's video on the Nazi site Stormfront.org.
The Wisconsin Democratic Party promptly put out a release denouncing the clip as racist and offensive. The party contacted reporters at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and also wrote to the broadcast side of the Journal Communications firm (which owns the paper and the radio station) asking VP Steve Wexler to look into it. While the newspaper recently put the inopportune Tweets by the Democratic Party spokesman on the front page of its paper prompting disciplinary action, it could not be bothered to write a word about the controversy over the weekend. Sykes defended the use of the video in a blog post Sunday night on "Right Wisconsin."
"Pshaw," says Sykes -- she's black, it's art, just because neo-Nazis love it doesn't mean it's a problem. In fact, Sykes so loves the video "about welfare programs run amok" that he says he uses it all the time and has previously posted it as an "anthem" for his nation of moochers theme. The Journal Sentinel covered the issue briefly online Monday, but only because Sykes wrote about it.
Sykes might think that he and Stormfront have a uniquely discerning eye for art, but by any measure the video is highly offensive. It shouldn't be used by any news source and Journal Communications should make it clear to Mr. Moocher that he shouldn't be using it either.
Journal Communications has given Sykes a lot of rope lately. He is the center of their new experiment called "Right Wisconsin" a subscriber-based, paid content news site for right-wingers which Sykes touted in January as a means of helping to get more Republicans elected. One of the sponsors and "partners" is the phony issue-ad group Wisconsin Club for Growth, which has spent millions in the state defending Governor Scott Walker and GOP candidates. The site features long-time GOP operatives like Brian Fraley, now at the MacIver Institute, and "reporting" by Media Trackers, a Breitbart-style attack dog operation. Both the MacIver Institute and Media Trackers are funded by the Bradley Foundation.
This type of news site is not unusual; what is unusual is that it is sponsored by a mainstream media outfit like Journal Communications which is supposed to be keeping an eye on its staff and is not supposed to be helping one political party advantage another.
See Dan Bice's comment below for more of the backstory.