I try to keep up with NewsMax’s slavish devotion to Scott Walker despite my adverse physical reactions to the stuff.
This recent NewsMax piece is standard for them.
I noticed, to my disappointment, that it links to this Washington Post story which practically gushes.
Check out this excerpt:
“Walker, in effect, operated as the county executive, chief of staff, press secretary and campaign strategist all at once. He ordered up briefing documents, spun out talking points, recruited the help of a local conservative talk-show host and even wrote a quote for a state lawmaker to issue in her own words.”
Walker shines as a “decisive” decision maker says Helderman.
If you read the piece, you’ll see there is a very shallow framing of events — from the death of Jared Kellner at the county parking ramp to the emails which are “fodder” for Democrats.
Team Walker’s evasion of public-records requests and conduct of political business on county time are “illegal in Wisconsin” writes Helderman.
(Did you feel a pressure on your scalp, fellow Wisconsinites? That was Helderman patting you on the head.)
There is no mention of ethics in the piece nor is there mention of the fact that Wisconsin dragged legislators through hell during the caucus scandal of 2001 – 2010 for engaging in similar activity: political business on government time.
“The e-mails paint a more complicated picture than Walker’s Democratic critics would suggest.”
Again I feel a verbal pat on the head. “It’s complicated” is a facebook relationship status – not a valid excuse for using government-paid staff to run a campaign. In fact, in light of Walker’s constant message that government needs to shrink, it is particularly damning behavior.
I feel she is also helping him frame this as ‘old news’ by only briefly touching on the John Doe investigation.
“The e-mails had been gathered as part of an investigation that resulted in convictions of six former Walker aides and allies. The governor was not charged, and the inquiry was closed last year.”
Then there is the matter of Dr. Strelnick.
If you – god forbid – read only the Washington Post, you might be led to believe that Scott Walker became aware that there were problems with Dr. Strelnick at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex only as of August 2010.
If you are from Wisconsin, you probably know it wasn’t just a rogue doctor problem. If you’re reading the Post somewhere else, you remain unaware of the sexual assaults and the pregnancy of one health complex patient by another patient.
In truth Walker knew that patients in the Behavioral Health Division of the complex were in “immediate jeopardy” in January of 2010 through state and federal inspection reports.
The Washington Post does not mention that Walker kept a report on the complex away from the county auditor in 2008.
Or that Walker as early as 2006 knew there were some issues with Strelnick when Cindy Anczak died of starvation under Strelnick’s care . That was in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The state’s most widely circulated newspaper.
I *think* Scott Walker would have seen that news.
I will acknowledge that the mental healthcare system of Milwaukee County had – and still has – ills that were years in the making. I even assume that Scott Walker was not the only negligent actor.
However, assuming Helderman is correct in saying that Walker displayed “decisive hands on leadership” and not purely self interest, doesn’t it seem all the more awful that Walker used that leadership to protect his own image rather than to change tragic conditions at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex?
Rosalind S. Helderman wrote,
“What the community considered a tragedy was discussed internally as a public relations headache.”
That’s an incredible sentence. Could it describe each year of Walker’s life as a government executive?
It’s a bit unfair of me to pluck it out of Helderman’s piece without context – isn’t it. It shows you context is important.
With this piece, I believe Helderman does her part to remove Walker’s emails from their historical context. In so doing, she produces something more like PR and less like journalism. Helderman allows Walker to once again stay two steps ahead of responsibility for negligence and tragedy in his own community.
You can read Helderman’s piece in full here: E-mails show Wisconsin Gov. Walker as hands-on tactician fixated on public image
You can learn about new plans for the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex here: Bill creating mental health board for Milwaukee County advances: Plan to replace County Board draws bipartisan backing despite union concerns By Meg Kissinger