Framing the Debate: How Walker Won the Ad War

Since 1993, the Center for Media and Democracy has tracked corporate spin and government propaganda. Because we are based in Madison, Wisconsin, we had an up-close view of the unprecedented television air war surrounding the recall election of Governor Scott Walker.

Final numbers are not yet in, but the recall race is expected to cost some $70-80 million, the most expensive in Wisconsin's history, dwarfing the previous total of $37 million spent in the 2010 gubernatorial election. Most of this money was spent on behalf of Governor Walker and most of it was spent on television.

Can Brats Build Bridges in Wisconsin?

Press and protestors outside the governor's mansion (source: Leslie Peterson)On June 12, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker held the "Beer and Brat Summit," touted as an effort to bring lawmakers from both parties together, although some lawmakers from both sides of the aisle found reasons not to attend this PR event. Brats are a Wisconsin tradition but even they have become politicized over the past year with one of the major brat makers financially backing Walker's political campaign.

Walker's PR Plan to Use Beer and Brats

Ninety-eight state lawmakers -- 60 Republicans, 37 Democrats and one independent -- said they planned to attend the event, which offered a spread of beer, brats, and other specialties from the Dairy State.

ALEC/NRA Castle Doctrine Almost Applied in Another Wisconsin Killing

An unarmed, 13-year-old boy was shot and killed by his 75-year-old neighbor in Wisconsin on May 31, even as the 13 year old put up his hands and tried to run away. If the incident happened just a few feet closer to the killer's house, the state's new Castle Doctrine law may have been invoked to protect the shooter from prosecution; the law more likely would have applied had the National Rifle Association's full version of its "model" bill been enacted.

The Castle Doctrine law -- also known as Stand Your Ground or "shoot first" -- was conceived by the NRA and promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). These laws have come under increasing scrutiny after the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida.

Wisconsin State Journal Used Erroneous Data in Front Page Recall Story "Mountains of Money are About Even"

Just weeks before Wisconsin's June 5 recall election, the banner headline for the Sunday edition of the Wisconsin State Journal declared "Campaign donations: Despite rhetoric, the parties' mountains of money are about even," a puzzling title because all evidence showed Governor Scott Walker with a significant financial advantage over challenger Tom Barrett. Former University of Wisconsin Professor Kathy Barton looked at the numbers used in the analysis and found numerous errors that caused donations to be overstated by an estimated $13 million.

Walker Wins Recall, Democrats Win Control of the Senate, Halting Right-Wing Agenda

After a 16-month long fight, an astonishing $63.5 million spent, and a people's uprising that attracted international attention and laid the groundwork for a movement that will last for years to come, Governor Scott Walker will keep his seat after Tuesday's recall election, winning 53-46 over challenger Tom Barrett. Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch also survived her recall challenge.

In the early hours of the morning, word came from Southeastern Wisconsin that former state Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, beat incumbent Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard, with 36,255 votes to Wanggaard's 35,476 votes, according to unofficial results with all precincts reporting. Combined with two other successful Senate recalls in August of 2011, this win means Democrats flipped the Senate from Republican control and put a halt to the Walker agenda.

Rampant Voter Fraud in Wisconsin or "The Martians Are Coming?"

In 1938, Kenosha, Wisconsin-born Orson Welles stoked widespread confusion and panic when he broadcast mock news reports of an extraterrestrial invasion, with his famous radio adaptation of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds convincing some listeners that Martians were attacking the earth. In 2012, another Kenosha native, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, is promoting similar confusion by attacking the integrity of Wisconsin's elections and stoking fears of "voter fraud" in advance of Tuesday's recall election. Does Wisconsin really have a history of "voter fraud," or are Priebus and other Republicans following in the footsteps of Welles and pulling a massive hoax?

Wisconsin Recall Roundup June 4, 2012

Reporter, Former Attorney General Suggest Walker is "Target" of John Doe and Federal Investigations

When Current TV's David Shuster broke the story on Friday that Walker was a "target" of the John Doe investigation he cited anonymous sources. On Saturday, Walker issued a strong denial, saying any suggestions that he has become a target of the John Doe probe are "100 percent wrong." Late on Saturday, Shuster revealed more. "I stand by my reporting 100 percent," Shuster said in a conference call reported on by the Progressive Magazine, adding that Walker was also a target in a federal investigation, citing unnamed sources with the U.S. Justice Department's Public Integrity Section. Shuster also said that Walker's attorneys had been seeking to have their client publicly cleared of wrongdoing for the last five or six weeks, but prosecutors would not clear him. Former District Attorney Bob Jambois said that "If Scott Walker thinks this is so unfair, why doesn't he open up these 1,400 emails." Former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager said "Walker should have produced evidence to clear himself" if he was not a target of investigation, and it would have been "malpractice" for his attorneys not to seek a letter from prosecutors clearing him.

Will Scott Walker Be Given a Pink Slip, an Orange Jump Suit or a Second Chance?

Madison -- Since September of 2010 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MJS) has been detailing an ongoing "John Doe" criminal investigation being run out of the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office involving Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's former staff and associates. The wide-ranging investigation has included allegations of campaign finance malfeasance, embezzlement of veterans funds, bid-rigging, and even child enticement during the period when Walker served as Milwaukee County Executive, but was running for governor.

On June 1, 2012, the MJS broke the story that Milwaukee County prosecutors were forced to move from a regular investigation to a secret "John Doe" criminal investigation more than two years ago after being stonewalled by the County Executive's office. Court records released in the trial of one of the defendants showed that prosecutors said Walker's office had been "unwilling or unable" to turn over requested records. This new information contradicts Walker's repeated claims that he has been "fully cooperating" with the investigation since the start.


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