PRWatch: Why Are the Franklin Center’s “Wisconsin Reporter” and “Watchdog.org” Attacking the John Doe?

This is worth a read.

The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity (through its Wisconsin Reporter and Watchdog.org websites) has aggressively attacked the “John Doe” probe into possible campaign finance violations during Wisconsin’s 2011 and 2012 recall elections. Its outlets have also published new information about the apparent targets of the investigation, but they have omitted an important detail: Franklin Center has close ties to individuals and groups that may be caught up in the John Doe.

The only name associated with the investigation, Eric O’Keefe, helped launch the Franklin Center’s operations in 2009, and his Sam Adams Alliance group provided the majority of its startup budget; O’Keefe has spoken publicly about being subpoenaed in his capacity as director of Wisconsin Club for Growth. Franklin Center’s Director of Special Projects John Connors, and the Executive Assistant to the President Claire Milbrandt, also have close ties to a group reportedly involved in the John Doe probe. Its former Director of Operations and General Counsel, James Skyles, worked with another group active in the Wisconsin recalls.

Franklin Center’s Wisconsin Reporter has written 16 stories so far that are highly critical of the John Doe probe and prosecutors (calling its series “Wisconsin’s Secret War”), but these latest revelations raise questions about whether the outfit has a conflict of interest in its coverage.

“It does sound like a conflict-of-interest situation that minimally ought to be disclosed, whenever stories are written,” said Robert Drechsel, Director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin School of Journalism and Mass Communications. “Particularly if the reporting in question is being done by an entity that holds itself out as nonpartisan and as doing the same kind of journalistic work being done by any traditional journalism institution.”

No one who follows politics – either here in Wisconsin or nationally – should be the slightest bit surprised that right-wing groups like Wisconsin Reporter and Watchdog.org would attack the current John Doe investigation, given the potentially negative impact the investigation would have on the flow of conservative dark money into Wisconsin.

I wonder which “certain parts of Milwaukee” the folks at WI Reporter were referring to…

I can’t help but wonder which “certain parts of Milwaukee” the folks at Wisconsin Reporter were referring to with this tweet:

So, dear readers….what “certain parts of Milwaukee” do you think the very un-diverse folks at Wisconsin Reporter were referring?

Mitt Romney presidential campaign bars reporter from covering campaign event (AUDIO)

Earlier today Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson made an appearance at the Monona Terrace in Madison to tout Republican president nominee Mitt Romney’s plan to strengthen the middle-class. Despite the event being open to the press, WTDY News reporter Dylan Brogan was barred from the event and escorted from the building by Madison Police.

Brogan was barred from the event by a Romney campaign staffer, who told Brogan she was acting on the orders of Ben Sparks, Romney’s Wisconsin Communication Director.

Once Sparks arrived, Brogan was told that was not allowed to cover the event with Sen. Johnson because WTDY morning talk show host Sly in the Morning protested a previous campaign event for Mitt Romney in Janesville.

“He reflects poorly on you, you work for that organization, and you suffer the consequences,” Sparks said. “That’s how it’s going to work. Now we’re not going to discuss this anymore. You cannot cover the event.”

Sparks went on to say that Brogan was “guilty by association.”

When Brogan asked if he could wait outside the room where Johnson was speaking, he was told by a Madison Police officer and a staffer from Monona Terrace to leave the building.

“I can physically take you out, if that’s what you want,” the officer told him.

You can listen to audio of the exchange between Brogan, the unnamed Romney staffer, and Ben Sparks below.

It’s notable that back in June, the “nonpartisan” folks over at Wisconsin Reporter breathlessly reported one of their beat reporters was barred from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s annual convention, yet curiously there hasn’t been a peep from anyone at Wisconsin Reporter about the Romney campaign barring a journalist from attending an event that was open to the press.

In response to the incident, WTDY News Director Amy Barrilleaux issued the following statement:

“It’s unfortunate that our reporter was singled out and prevented from covering Sen. Johnson’s speech, when his only offense was walking into the building with a press pass bearing the WTDY logo. All other local media wishing to cover the event were allowed in. Decisions made in our newsroom are not influenced by WTDY talk show host Sly in the Morning.”

Fake partisan “news” organization Wisconsin Reporter shows its bias

So apparently the hacks over at Wisconsin Reporter, the plainly partisan wannabe “news” website, have a problem with Jeff Simpson, if their Twitter feed is to be believed:

Putting aside how incredibly juvenile their attempt at humor was, the crew at Wisconsin Reporter clearly don’t seem too interested in conducting themselves like the “non-partisan” group of “reporters” that they claim to be. After all, if the crew at Wisconsin Reporter wanted anyone with any common sense to believe they’re real reporters, they might want to learn to be a little less “frat house” and a little more dignified.

Having seen what passes for “insults” from the crew at Wisconsin Reporter, is it wrong of me that when I think of those hacks I can’t help but think of this song?

Phil has his own take on this, and it’s worth a read.