Verify the Recall – Still Working!

I have covered the story of "Verify The Recall" & how it was never used to make sure the process was clean and fair, but to make sure and intimidate those who signed. With the Governor’s recall a sure thing, the VTR is still working. The latest egregious event comes from the Wausau Daily Herald and their editor Mark Treinen. Seems as though 25 employees exercised their constitutional rights, and signed the recall petition.

So we were disappointed to learn this week, while checking online databases and asking staff members, that 25 of our coworkers in Gannett Wisconsin Media broke from our ethical code and signed petitions in support of the recall election for Gov. Scott Walker.

The nerve of people who work for a living wanting to also take part in the democratic process.

Then Treinen goes on to attempt to justify his abhorrent behavior:

» First, none of the Gannett employees who signed (which includes two from the Wausau Daily Herald) is involved in directing or reporting political coverage. In Wausau, the signers were a copy editor who designs pages and a news clerk whose primary job is data entry.

» Second, the overwhelming majority of the 223 journalists in Gannett Wisconsin Media knew better than to get involved in the recall petitions. Gannett’s four central Wisconsin newspapers employ 52 journalists, including the two from Wausau who signed.

» Third, the first two points don’t matter when it comes to our expectations of the news staff — even if you’re involved in page design or clerk duties, you are expected to adhere to our company’s principles of ethical conduct.

Then he heads into the exact reason he is wrong:

Journalists can and do voice their opinions about political issues with their colleagues, friends or family. Journalists can and do vote in elections. Those actions are appropriate.

Also, a few of our senior news employees serve on the Editorial Board, whose function is to weigh local issues and opine about them as a group — not as individuals.

So according to Treinen, the only people allowed to take part in our democracy are a few “senior news employees”, and they will tell their readership exactly how everyone who works at the Wausau Daily Herald thinks. Having an opinion and working for a newspaper will not be tolerated.

I know that you think I am exaggerating to make a point, but if only that were true!

We are now in the process of addressing discipline and reviewing additional ethics training for all news employees.

Shame on Mark Treinen for using “VTR” that way! Maybe he should be the first one disciplined for using VTR in such a way! Somewhere the Grandsons of Liberty are Smiling!

By the way if you want to know what hard hitting journalism the Wausau Daily Herald does: You can Vote today in their wild and wacky pet photo conference call!

There is also this, perhaps Mark Treinen has a personal interest in this?

In this year’s race for Wisconsin governor, there is a strong argument for both candidates — and there are serious charges that stick to both. We endorse Republican Scott Walker, because we see him as the best choice to bring about fundamental budget reforms Wisconsin needs.

As Milwaukee County executive, Walker has experience that in some respects mirrors the governor’s job. He has managed a large budget in dire need of reform, and has concrete progress to show for it.

As mayor of Milwaukee, Democrat Tom Barrett has had an incredibly difficult job, overseeing a city disastrously affected by the recession. He is a strong administrator.

Barrett is also an admirably straightforward and realistic politician, coming across as utterly genuine in a way that Walker doesn’t always. But what Barrett doesn’t have is a track record of taking on special interests within his party.

For budget reform to happen here, the next governor will almost certainly face a confrontation with public employees unions — including teachers unions — on issues such as their level of contribution to pension plans, which today are utterly out of alignment with the private sector.

That is a structural problem. Walker has made it a centerpiece of his campaign; Barrett has mentioned it as an important issue. We have more confidence that Walker will face this set of challenges head-on.

In campaign mode, Walker has also promised massive tax cuts that Barrett rightly points out would hugely increase the state’s deficit. We will need targeted tax cuts to make Wisconsin more business-friendly, but we hope that if elected Walker considers the state’s overall fiscal picture, too.

Both of these candidates have the potential to be good governors. Walker’s skills and priorities are what Wisconsin needs now. We endorse Walker.


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24 thoughts on “Verify the Recall – Still Working!

  1. “Journalists can and do voice their opinions about political issues with their colleagues, friends or family. Journalists can and do vote in elections.”

    O RLY? Admitting you vote obviously proves you’re a biased hack, Mark Treinen.

    (Journalists trying to out-righteous each other with this faux-objectivity BS is one of the most sickening aspects of the profession. It’s a sorry excuse for proving their mettle through good journalism.)

  2. What a joke. Suppressing the free speech of their staff in the interest of projecting an impartiality that clearly doesn’t exist. When the supporters of the governor represent all those who didn’t sign as being in support of the governor there isn’t a position they could take that couldn’t be construed as taking a position. Would they be disciplining any of their employees who have a “Stand With Walker” bumper sticker on their car? Free speech means free speech for all. They’re likely to piss off just as many people by this action as by no action. What’s worse is they brought it to light making it an issue. If they hadn’t searched the list for their own employees it would have been difficult for an outsider to audit their staff and definitively say who had signed and who had not. It would have been kept to the blogs and those heavily interested in this. Now their entire readership is aware and a sizable portion is going to be angry with either their reaction or the action of those signing. Dumb move Gannett.

  3. Shame on you Mark Treinen for cramming your beliefs down the throats of your staff and hide behind journalism ethics….it’s your ethics that should be questioned. You just exposed your paper to the biased rag that it is. I hope your discipline of staff leads you to a court challenge.

  4. While the Republicans will be using the “Verify Recall” as a blacklist, in the near future at least. A progressive businessperson might use the list to weed out undesirable new hires, as a person who signed the recall is much less likely to be a lying sociopath, an embezzler, a backstabber or someone who will download child pornography onto company computers.

    If I lived in a district in which a recall was attempted on a Democratic candidate I would also want to know who signed those petitions so that I could avoid doing business with predatory individuals or hiring the above mentioned degenerates. And this doesn’t even include the recalls against Feingold and Doyle, don’t those petitions deserve to be put online?

    Was there a petition in favor of “Concealed Carry” or the “Castle Doctrine”? We don’t have a public list of those with CC permits but I bet they signed the petitions. I know that I wouldn’t want to work with someone whose paranoia compelled them to carry a loaded weapon.

    Isn’t total political war fun?

  5. Nice to see proven again, the real purpose of the creation of the VTR search-able database. The repression and black-listing foreseen by quite a few people at the onset of that process. Still waiting on the list of concealed carry neighbors for my personal safety.

  6. Here in Walkersha, the Freeman has gotten A LOT of mileage, meaning ‘news’ stories, out of which public officials signed the recall. It’s a clear case of what you are saying, VTR is simply to intimidate and silence people. Most people thought that their signatures would remain somewhat private; but putting them online has ruined that. I don’t care if people know I signed (my RECALL WALKER yard sign probably makes it not so surprising), but for public officials like judges, it throws a cloud over people’s willingness to trust their ability to make sound judgements. Huge fail on this one.

  7. This is disgusting McCarthyism, and it’s time for the Dems to make a stand in favor of any citizen exercising their constitutional right to sign a recall petition. How dare we allow Texass trash and right-wing corporate newspaper boards to denigrate people for doing what they believe is right. And explain to me what the job of being a newspaper sales person, printing press operator or a food columnist (for example) have to do with their personal political opinions?

    Of course, it also means that there are a lot of people who didn’t sign precisely because they feared some kind of BS like this would happen, despite the fact that many of them hate Walker as much as most decent people do, and will vote him out in June.

    1. > Of course, it also means that there are a lot of people who didn’t sign precisely because they feared some kind of BS like this would happen …

      Indeed, some conservative leaners and GOP operatives early on warned citizens that their signature on a recall petition might expose them to harrassment, ID theft and worse. Of course, most such actualized threats have been coming from the camp of those same intimidators.

  8. If the signatures were to have remained unsearchable, I think signing would have been perfectly acceptable, as it would have been, for all intents and purposes, anonymous. Many of the journalists signing may have done so under that assumption. Now that we have entered a political phase where these signatures are publicly available and easily searchable by those with a grudge, I’d suggest that petition signing should join demonstrating and yard signs on the journalists’ no-go list. And I should mention that I voluntarily gave up my right to yard signs for 25 years as the spouse of a journalist, with a degree in Journalism myself. Big supporter of neutral 4th Estate.

  9. The problem is that the recall petition is part of the democratic process itself. Without the petitions, there is no election- meaning that signing a petition should be regarded as sacrosanct as the ballot itself. To persecute those who sign under the guise of ‘objectivity’ is complete and utter bullshit- unless every byline will be required to show a list of candidates who the person voted for so I can know who to dismiss out of hand. This whole past year has hinged not just on terrible policy, but on terrible process- and this anti-democratic intimidation campaign is just the latest in the long line of democratic perversion pushed by the Wisconsin GOP.

  10. Scanning the spectrum of Gannett papers in the state there are several with nearly the same “Editorial,” issued by the top executive staff of the different titles bemoaning either the Gannett employees or the Judges in the state that signed the recall petition.

    Speaks more to the need to break up monopoly ownership of the media than to anything worthwhile to actually be concerned about with the recall and judicial or editorial integrity.

    I didn’t check at the time and Gannett wipes their easily accessed online archives rather quickly, but it would be interesting to review how upset or self-righteously indignant their executive editorial staff was (or was not) at the news of Gableman’s “free,” legal assistance from MB&F.

  11. Federal lawsuit waiting to happen, Mr. Treinen.

    Your work “rules” do not in any way, shape, or form, trump Constitutional guarantees.

    Please discipline the 25 who signed the recall so we can watch your sorry ass get sued into oblivion.

  12. They are free to try and save their state whether it goes against your opinion or not. It is exactly this kind of thinking which got Walker recalled.

  13. It’s always easy to say “cut expenditures.” Unfortunately, some folks are not always able to see lost opportunities when they cut. Suppose we all say higher education is a waste of money and no one in Wisconsin will be allowed to attend college. Wouldn’t that save a lot of money?
    Similarly, newspapers that punish employees for voicing their real opinions are little better than the armies of Syria or China. And, while the immediate gain in revenue that Walker backers will provide for this anti-American policy seems worth the disgrace, it bodes ill for the future of all Wisconsin news media.

  14. The exact same letter was in yesterday’s Appleton Post-Crescent. I wonder who in Gannett gave the order for the local papers to post this editorial?

  15. If you look @ page 3 of the ethics/conduct policy the very last line totally blows his crap out of the water.

  16. Perhaps we should look at VTR and determine who did not sign the recalls. Hear them howl.

  17. Recalls, shmecalls, just remember to vote and bring a friend. Doing extensive database logging, there were approximately two related family members of the same political persuasion, to every person who signed the recall. Getting them to the polls would produce an election turnout that would rival any election turnout in the history of the state.

  18. Are these people kidding?!!! Are ther people running this paper modelling their rules after the periodicals in the old Soviet Union? the bosses at this paper need a lesson in “Civics-101”! The RECALL petitions ARE a process of democracy! they will be “disciplining” employees that signed recall petitions?! I urge everyone to call this paper and voice strong disapproval of their policies. (I smell a lawsuit against this paper in the works.)They’d certainly deserve one.

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