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Posted at 12:20 PM ET, 03/ 1/2011

GOP ad badly distorts history of Wisconsin standoff

By Greg Sargent

This new ad from the Republican Governors Association backing up Scott Walker in Wisconsin is getting a ton of media attention today, but no one seems to want to point out that the spot is premised on a serious distortion that borders on an outright falsehood:

The ad hails Govenor Walker for "asking state employees to contribute to their own benefits, just like anyone else." But this has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual reason there's an ongoing standoff in Wisconsin. The unions have already agreed to the benefit concessions Walker has asked for, as long as he doesn't roll back their bargaining rights. Walker has refused. The sticking point has nothing to do with benefits.

Indeed, the two words "bargaining rights" don't appear in the ad. And as Dave Weigel notes, this is actually the second ad from the right -- following one last week from Americans for Prosperity -- that fails to tell viewers the truth in precisely the same fashion.

Some on the right have argued that the position of the unions isn't actually a concession, because rolling back bargaining rights is the only way to put the state on sound fiscal footing over the long haul. But even if one were to accept this to be the case, the ad is still a demonstrable and very serious distortion. It's a matter of simple factual reality that unions have agreed to the benefit concessions Walker wants -- whether or not you agree that this is enough on their part.

The larger point here is that these facts are absolutely central to the ongoing public opinion war in Wisconsin. Labor and Dems worry that the message in the ad -- that public employees need to pony up just like everyone else -- is a powerful one. At the same time, the right knows that if it's broadly understood that labor has already agreed to the fiscal concessions Walker has asked for, that could be lethal to their side. Armed with this info, the public is more likely to conclude that Walker's proposal is all about destroying unions, and to reject it as extreme.

Indeed, polls suggest this is already happening, which is why the RGA sees the need to run the ad in the first place. You can see why the makers of the ad are pretending the facts of the situation simply don't exist. But it's still too bad they aren't getting a fuller airing elsewhere.

By Greg Sargent  | March 1, 2011; 12:20 PM ET
Categories:  Labor  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Poll: Scott Walker losing P.R. battle
Next: Cuts for thee, but not for me


"Judge Orders Wisconsin Capitol Re-Opened"

A Dane County, Wisc., judge has issued a temporary restraining order to reopen the Wisconsin Capitol building to the public. Capitol access was restricted over the weekend and again this morning, following days in which the building had been crowded with protesters. The Wisconsin State Employees Union, along with the AFL-CIO and AFSCME, filed the suit against the state of Wisconsin yesterday.

Today, Judge Daniel Moeser ordered the building reopened. Court documents posted online read:

Resp. shall open the Wisconsin Capitol to members of the public during business hours and at times when governmental matters, such as hearings, listening sessions and court arguments are being conducted. This ex parte restraining order is in effect until the assigned trial court is able to schedule a hearing on the matter. If resp. wishes to have a hearing with respect to this order one will be scheduled as soon as possible before this court, the duty judge, if the assigned trial court is unable to hear the matter promptly. Pet. shall immediately serve a copy of this order on resp.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | March 1, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

WI Court orders Capitol OPEN!

Also, check this out in the comments section:

Rumor is from numerous folks that there is word of the Tea Party being bussed and tunneled in tomorrow to fill the Capital during Scott Walker's address. They are apparently planning this right now at the Concourse hotel. Spread the word. Any more information on this would be much appreciated. Get to the Hotel!
DHS building - 1 W Wilson - has tunnels to Capitol from 1B, which is a public space.
"The tunnel to the Capitol is located on 1B. It's regularly cleaned of cobwebs due to lack of use."

Also supposedly that's Walker's own only means of getting in past the pro-democracy people. So it's going to be a Tea Party "sneak-in" with the protesters fully aware of the attempt. Hopefully the protesters can pack the Capitol first

Posted by: ronnieandrush | March 1, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Ads and protests aren't what matter. A spotlight will be trained on every penny spent in state government from here on out. That is the moral of the Wisconsin story.

Posted by: fprawl | March 1, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Despicable misrepresentation by Walker usual.

Posted by: jack824 | March 1, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I'd think this ad could be easily debunked by an ad that snips the lies, and then states the truth. Nothing works as well as using liars own words against them.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | March 1, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

The unions agreed, but many of the union memebers are definitely not on board with that idea.

Further the unions only agreed to a short term cut and many of the municipalities are working with the unions and trying to rush agreements before any changes. Apparently even the munincipalities do not take their duties to negotiate seroiusly.

As it stands, there will be many layoffs. Traditionally the state has picked up the tab for the employee portion of the costs from the municipalities. That time is gone and the municipalities are going to be stuck with the bill they planned to push up to the state.

Posted by: win1 | March 1, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Umm, the unions and other pro public employee groups have run ads as well.

Both sides tell the story from their view, that is what ads are about.

Posted by: win1 | March 1, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

When you have to consistently lie and obfuscate in order to win your point, then you are truly in a downward spiral. The GOP is in that spiral and seems perfectly willing to drag all of us down with them.

Posted by: WallysSon | March 1, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

OT, I've wondered when one of these 'allies' of ours would break ranks and point the finger at the US and Israel, the tried and true source of any and all problems in the Arab world...

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen's embattled U.S.-backed president accused Washington on Tuesday of instigating protests against his regime, as hundreds of thousands marched in cities across Yemen in the largest rallies yet seeking the longtime ruler's ouster.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 1, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

win1... so the union cuts are temporary? How long do the corporate and high-end tax cuts last?

And, if lies and distortions are what form your point of view, most people would re-consider what they're doing, and why.

Posted by: WallysSon | March 1, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Quick response ad, consisting only of public footage/images and voiceover (see: cheap and easy to produce):

Walker's Ad in a TV on screen.

“Governor Walker and his billionaire friends would love people to believe that his budget plan is about shared sacrifice.”

“They’d love for you to think the tens of thousands of protestors are just being greedy.”

Big red letters “LIES” stamps over the tv with Walker’s ad running on it.

“But they’re lying to you, again.”

“Unions and public employees have already agreed to the benefits cuts that Gov. Walker has proposed.”

Video footage of the massive protests in the capitol.

“So why are so many workers protesting?”

Snapshots of teachers, nurses, and prison guards overlaid on top of the video of massive protests.

“Because Gov. Walker refuses to remove the union-busting provision in his budget that would destroy the bargaining rights of public unions – including teachers, nurses, and prison guards.”

Picture of Gov. Walker.

Text overlay: Stop the assault on workers’ rights.

“Gov. Walker, we agreed to your cuts. We won’t agree to give up our rights. It’s time for you to put the people of Wisconsin ahead your own ideological agenda.”

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | March 1, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Well, we surely didn't expect accuracy and honesty from the great duplicitous & power-grabbing union-hating, Gov Walker, did we?

I'd like to share these 1955 words from President Eisenhower, a Republican...but they've thrown away the molds for these kind of Republicans, they don't make great ones like this man anymore:

"....the economic interest of employer and employee is a mutual prosperity. Their economic future is inseparable. Together they must advance in mutual respect, in mutual understanding, toward mutual prosperity. Of course, there will be contest over the sharing of the benefits of production; and so we have the right to strike and to argue all night, when necessary, in collective bargaining sessions. But in a deeper sense, this surface struggle is subordinate to the overwhelming common interest in greater production and a better life for all to share.

"...labor relations will be managed best when worked out in honest negotiation between employers and unions, without Government’s unwarranted interference.


Posted by: TruthFairy | March 1, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

GOP lies to the American people? In particular their "base" who are simply too ignorant to know better. That is what the GOP relies on, the stupidity of their voters

Posted by: rcc_2000 | March 1, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

And I hope everyone remembers which Governors are supporting Walker when they're up for reelection. And, for that matter, which Governors have been accepting money from the Koch brothers.

Posted by: lyndee1 | March 1, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Few people mention that this bill to strip union wokers of tehir collective bargaining rights also has a rider that will give Waalker dictatorial rights to sell the state's utilities in no bid contracts. I should be fair though because he was well funded by the Koch brothers his puppet dictator strings are not very difficult to follow. A recall is too nice for this Walker guy. There is a movement to recall ASAP all the Wisconsin Republican State Senators as well as Walker; I guess I am not the only person that finds this Walker guy ditasteful.

Posted by: glenglish | March 1, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"Frank Rich to Leave The Times for New York Magazine"


Posted by: shrink2 | March 1, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Greg. The right has been distorting for years and the MSM helps them. Their threats of violence always work. What they can not take is the light that comes from fact-checking and telling the truth. With computers and new technology, the GOP is on the wrong side of the curve.

Posted by: LillithMc | March 1, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I just watched the ad and there are no lies or distortions in it. There's nothing false in the advertisement.

Posted by: sbj3 | March 1, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Once again, the line from Sledgehammer comes to mind: "The amusement never ends"

Here Mr Sargent provide hilarious proof of liberal rule number 1: do as the liberals say, not as the liberals do.

Oh, and in so doing he also proves that liberals are ever mindful of their guiding concept: by any means necessary.

Want proof? Well to provide this we need look no further than this very blog. 2/24/2011 at 4:41 PM, Mr Sargent offered us this:
"Watchdog calls for criminal probe of Governor Walker over prank Koch call"

What Mr Sargent neglected to tell us what that the so called watchdog group is funded by leftie activists and unions. by failing to disclose this Mr Sargent provided a massive distortion of the situation.

I pointed this out and Mr Sargent failed to respond immediately (his words from another blog post).

so what we have here is a tantrum. The left is appalled that their political opponents are playing hard ball by the current rules. As I stated: we are supposed to do what liberals say, not what they do. For the right to use the tools and techniques of the left is apparently a violation of some cosmic rule. It is enough to rouse Edgar Cayce from his torpor.

Oh and since it is quite OK for Mr Sargent to engage in distortion we can rest assured that he's keeping faith with the guiding principle: by any means necessary.

this is just so much fun. and the hits just keep on coming. Just yesterday Mr Sargent complained because he was being treated the same way that the left treats people like Palin, or gingrich or any other "enemy". His words were held up to scrutiny and he whined about calumny. Boo hoo.

This is war and the left's rules can work both ways. If the left wants to live by their principle of "by any means necessary" they should toughen up. The right can adopt the very same approach.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | March 1, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

All, House Republican, asked why he can't cut his own salary, says 174,000 per year means he's not "wealthy":

Posted by: Greg Sargent | March 1, 2011 1:45 PM | Report abuse

The ad is all about hoodwinking and bamboozling the people; notwithstanding, "the people" have the responsibility to know the difference. Once again, based on current affairs, one could argue that Wisconsinites were bamboozled and hoodwinked into voting Walker into office? But, besides the "trojan horse" stuff, it was also a combination of voters (1) not doing due diligence, (2) not voting, and (3) voting against their own interests. Perhaps, a good lesson, in the end?

Posted by: dozas | March 1, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

The GOP distorting the truth? Say it ain't so, Joe.

Posted by: jckdoors | March 1, 2011 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"...outright falsehood." Call it what it is a "lie". Saying "falsehood" makes it sound less like a "lie". When you say "lie" people know immediately what you mean when you try to be nice and say "falsehood" it somehow sounds less like a "lie".

It's a lie, lie, lie!!!

Posted by: rlj611 | March 1, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse


"What Mr Sargent neglected to tell us what that the so called watchdog group is funded by leftie activists and unions. by failing to disclose this Mr Sargent provided a massive distortion of the situation."

Ah the old "neglected to mention" canard. Ever a favourite of the right. It's a great rebuttal/distraction because you can always complain that an article didn't say something that it might have, and claim this fact is so very important and central that its exclusion is proof of the article's bias etc. It's a self-moving goalpost. It goes anywhere, anytime!

Here's what Sargent said of the watchdog:

"In the letter, the Public Campaign Action fund, which leans liberal but also criticizes Dems, cites an exchange[...]"

So it's not enough for him to point out the group's known ideological affiliation, no he has to also mention who funds them.

The worst part is, even if one accepts this as fair criticism (I do not) you are still equating a sin of omission to the RGA's positive act of lying about the nature of the Wisconsin dispute in its ad.

You can't prove Sargent deliberately excluded mention of the organization's funding (is there some APA style rule that requires mention of a group's funding?), nor prove that it is required to be in any mention of the group. The RGA has gone and affirmed that the dispute is about wages and benefits when the unions have already accepted the Governor's proposals in those regards.

Anyway, is that how it works for you, the RGA lying to voters is ok because you can find a liberal blogger somewhere who isn't meeting your standard for fulsome truthfulness in reporting?

I guess as the old saying says, two wrongs don't make the right, it takes a lot more than two.

Posted by: Scientician | March 1, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: gchess | March 1, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: gchess | March 1, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

“The upper class has done a great job of pitting the middle class against itself,” Mark Horton, a retired firefighter who is treasurer of the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters ( Divide and conquer has always worked for Republicans; always will.

Posted by: dozas | March 1, 2011 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I just watched the ad and there are no lies or distortions in it. There's nothing false in the advertisement.

Posted by: sbj3 | March 1, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: sassafrasnewport | March 1, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Ah my Dems friends...Hysteria always shows itself most - just before the ship goes under. The tax payer is now more informed then more dem lies, no more dem more. It appears as if only MOD rules with you all.

Posted by: short1 | March 1, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Yet another example of going into a battle of wits, unarmed.

"The tax payer is now more informed then more dem lies, no more dem more.
"Posted by: short1 | March 1, 2011 3:15 PM"

Right, the reason the Dems control the White House and the Senate is because there's "no more dem more".

Seriously, do you far-right extremists EVER have a single, coherent thought, or produce a logically-consistent argument?

Oh, wait, expecting "logical consistency" from the blithering knuckle-draggers trying to spin for Gov. Walker in this thread is like expecting a cold sun, or dry water, it's a consistency that just doesn't exist on right-wing Bizarrroworld.

Posted by: kingcranky | March 1, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Of course Walker's lying..he's a Republican.
The pensions he talked about were payed by the employees themselves.. not a penny from taxpayers.. just another dam lying Republican.. join the diseased club.

Posted by: cmsatown | March 1, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Majority of middle-class are NOT union,and Don't want to be unionized either!
Majority of Americans realize Unions are Dinosaurs and holding this country back.
Only weak-minded individuals actually believe the brainwashing from the unions: the rich are bad; business is bad, everybody's bad, except for unions, of course.

Posted by: ohioan | March 1, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

rcc2000 you hit the nail on the head. the saddest part is that the repiggers rely on the stupidity of the repigglets to advance their agenda, and the sheep never let them down! they'll believe absolutely anything as long as it's a rethuglicon saying it. It's utterly astounding. all you have to do is read some of these comments to discern the way these fools have been brainwashed. they sould like a bunch of parrots, parrotting the propaganda they've been fed. Unions are ruining the country. Give me a freakin break! republican policies shifting all of the wealth to themselves and their friends is what's ruining this country. and you brainless minions who are controlled by bumper sticker slogans. pathetic!

Posted by: red2million | March 1, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Fear, Hatred, Distortion, Distraction and Division is all Republicans have to offer America.

This ad hits all the major points.

Posted by: thebobbob | March 1, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

It says a lot they had to disable the ratings, and the comments.

Posted by: BornAgainAmerican | March 1, 2011 5:30 PM | Report abuse

a belated response to this:
Ah the old "neglected to mention" canard. Ever a favourite of the right. It's a great rebuttal/distraction because you can always complain that an article didn't say something that it might have, and claim this fact is so very important and central that its exclusion is proof of the article's bias etc. It's a self-moving goalpost. It goes anywhere, anytime!


Time for the left to face facts. We've figured out the tactics and we're offsetting them or borrowing them.

the simple fact is that the group Mr Sargent mentioned is nothing more than a union funded bunch of shills. The "call" was a phony as it gets.

Sargent didn't think that the nature of the "watchdog group" was important. Small wonder, that fact alone destroys their effort as I'm sure Mr Sargent knew.

the object of the game, the work of the machine that houses Mr Sargent et al, is to keep issues against conservatives "alive". His mention of the steady "drip, drip, drip" is exactly right. All these union/Democrat/Soros funded groups use a duplicitous media to bash the political opposition.

but is all just as phony as it can be. And the left is disinguenuous at best about it.

"leans liberal"? Come now, that must have come to Mr Sargent via the Journ-o-list. It is too funny. Leans liberal? did you look at their list of contributors? You may be gullible, but not all in America are.

No I can't prove Mr Sargent's intentions, but we pay on product, right? Whatever his intentions the simple fact is that he distorted the reportage, then had the nerve to complain about others doing the same thing.

No, you misunderstand what I'm saying here. I'm not condoning lying. I am saying that the tools and techniques of the left are now well understood by the right. We can counter them more effectively and adopt those that fit our purposes.

Can Mr Sargent prove that the ad he's whinig about "intentionally" left out the points he thinks should be included? I don't think so.

Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. This is war, we're fighting to win.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | March 1, 2011 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Where in the constitution are rights given to bargain with your neighbors money?

This whole argument is about Union power over the Budget, their power over their representatives, their power over taxes; the peoples money.

All you hear from the unions is the taking of rights, "the taking of rights".

Who's rights?

Why are public employees even necessary? They're not. The post office is finding that out the hard way.
They're bankrupt and extremely indebted, when their competition is successful and thriving. Sound familiar?

The only rights being trampled on are the peoples rights; the right to a fair budget process, the right to have their money apportioned fairly, the right to get quality service for the money they spend, the right not to be in debt.

After the supreme court KELO decision on the taking of peoples homes and property to transfer to another private entity, and now complete disregard for the taxpayer, its crystal clear whose rights are being destroyed.

Tax the rich, fine no problem; then rid us of the public union, give us a government thats not in perpetual bankruptcy and give our children the education they deserve.


Posted by: hthansen | March 3, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

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