Politics

Democrats threaten independent Wisconsin news outlet with attacks from ‘activists’

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter

A Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesman has issued a hefty ultimatum to an independent state-level news outlet he thinks is biased: Admit your bias or feel the wrath of left-wing activists.

Wisconsin Democratic Party flack Graeme Zielinski told the Wisconsin Reporter’s bureau chief that the Party had a detailed plan for how to discredit the publication. Zielinski said the Democratic Party plans to contact editors and publishers of all news outlets that run the Wisconsin Reporter’s content and “let them know our deep concern about the obvious bias that permeates your entire operation.”

Zielinski said Democrats would also mobilize activists, including union members, to do the same. He added that the Democratic Party was also prepared to call the state Capitol’s press pool to request that the Wisconsin Reporter lose its press credentials.

“[W]e continue on until you actually admit to the truth of your operation,” he said.

Zielinski’s email indicates his threats are in response to his belief that a Wisconsin Reporter staffer quoted him from an “off the record” conversation. It’s unclear if the Wisconsin Reporter staffer agreed to keep that conversation off the record status, as it’s standard for both sides of a journalistic discussion to agree on whether or not an interview is fair game for publication. Wisconsin Reporter staffers have not returned The Daily Caller’s requests for comment.

When The Daily Caller reached out to Zielinski to ask him about specifics of his email, he declined to comment, instead saying he’s more focused on helping with recall elections in the state. “We’re in the final push for recall elections here,” Zielinski said in an email. “I’ll be happy to get back to you later this week or next.”

Questions TheDC asked of Zielinski include whether what he outlined in the email to the Wisconsin Reporter is standard operating procedure for Wisconsin Democrats, and which news outlets he believes are “balanced.” TheDC also requested specific details of his allegations that the Wisconsin Reporter behaved unethically.

Zielinski adds in his email that he thinks he was misquoted in another story the Wisconsin Reporter wrote. That one was about a Heritage Foundation interview with Gov. Scott Walker about new jobs numbers. The story focused on Wisconsin’s June job-creation numbers, which, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, represented more than half of the total jobs created nationwide that month.

The Wisconsin Reporter says its staff writer quoted Zielinski in that story saying that the Republican Wisconsin Governor’s economic victory proclamations were “right-wing fantasy, a total lie.” The publication, which launched in June 2010 as a part of the nonprofit Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, says Zielinski believed Illinois had a better economy than Wisconsin.

“The Land of Lincoln, however, shed 18,900 jobs in June, pushing the state’s total jobless to north of 600,000,” according to the Wisconsin Reporter story that was critical of Zielinski’s threats.

Franklin Center president Jason Stverak considers Zielinski’s allegations unfair and untrue.

“Wisconsin Reporter’s content is trusted by tens of thousands of individuals in Wisconsin who get our stories, whether through our newspaper partners, our website, or they read it on Facebook or Twitter,” Stverak said in response to the matter, according to the Washington Examiner.