DPW Gestapo journalists at WSJ continue their war on Michael Eisenga, and by extension the entire Walker administration, in an article outlining Mr. Eisenga’s company’s history of being investigated by the state.
Among the misdeeds: lying on a loan application, gaming the state’s no-call list rules, not paying taxes, and violating minimum wage laws. Norma Rae he is not. The article missed that he, for a while, employed disgraced Walker staffer Kelly Rindfleisch, a point that Don Walker picked up in his initial reporting.
Ignore whether or not Mr. Eisenga is truly nefarious, or if his company’s policies are completely dishonest or tremendously mismanaged. The reason he’s in the spotlight is his financial connection to Mr. Kleefisch, author of a controversial bill about child support laws that was, after much public scrutiny and backlash, pulled from consideration last week. Now that Democrats have won the policy victory, it’s time to anathematize their political opponents into leper status.
After defeat of the bill, CapTimes.com published “The fascinating story of Michael Eisenga, Joel Kleefisch’s VIP donor.” It’s a truly riveting and revealing almost-expose, weighing in at 341 words. Most importantly, an unrelated featured image graces the headline, showing Mr. Eisenga in formal dress next to Scott and Tonette Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch — her husband ostentatiously absent.
Not only is Mrs. Kleefisch the Lieutenant Governor, but she’s also recovering from another quiet non-controversy, as the almost-expose about Mr. Eisenga explains in the final paragraph. Last December, reporters were barred from entering a forum that included Mrs. Kleefisch, Revenue Department Secretary Rick Chandler, and a host of business leaders to discuss tax reforms. After being shut out, the reporter demanded the film of the meeting under open records law. Rather than fight it, Mrs. Kleefisch’s office released the film, which reveals her quipping, “We want to know how we can love you more” in terms of tax incentives. The story also quotes Mrs. Kleefisch in order to further lambast the well-harangued Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Subsequent reporting on the video turned into discussion about one reporter’s access and not the efficacy of tax incentives. That doesn’t matter; the footage is now out there, and it can — and likely will — be used as propaganda to excoriate Mrs. Kleefisch for caring about big evil business and not hard working card-carrying union members.
The second hook of this one-two punch came when WSJ published an article celebrating that the almost-expose was the most popular article of the week, another reason to keep Mr. Eisenga in the discussion.
This is how the Democrat Blabbosphere operates in order to win. Mr. Eisenga is just collateral damage, but so effortlessly connected to the governor and his lieutenant that any article about him is grist for the anti-Walker mill. CapTimes makes no apologies for its progressive slant, and I don’t begrudge what is obviously unfair coverage. It is, after all, “Your Progressive Voice.” But these tactics help illustrate the very functional strategy to take conservative political opponents and never, ever missing an opportunity to make them unlikeable. Moreover, any perceived bias comes not from the reporting, but from this overt selection bias when deciding what to cover and what to publish.
George Orwell created a fictional society in which transgressors of the Party Line were made unpersons, erased from the collective memory. The Kims in North Korea find enemies of the State and their known associates and kill them in labor camps. The DPW and their slander machine operate somewhere in the middle, keeping their opponents alive to bring them out once in awhile to remind everyone Republicans have cooties.
Meanwhile, this strategy works because it’s easy to say, “But we’re covering Mr. Eisenga, a man with an ugly record who’s connected to major players in state politics.” And that’s the reason I asked you to ignore the issue of Mr. Eisenga’s honesty, or laketherof. His dealings are not the story.
This is one narrative, spun over the course of a week or so, that initially involved fairly uninteresting political players. That it’s newsworthy a politician gave access to a donor is farce, but Joel Kleefisch’s proximity to the Lieutenant Governor made getting at the Walker administration even easier. That’s why the almost-expose feature story about Mr. Eisenga prominently showcased a photo that included him in the same shot with Mr. Walker, who’s the real target in all of this. It’s also the type of narrative that’s difficult to push back on. The evidence is there to make Mr. Eisenga look like a bad guy, and he may or may not be, but to be associated with him is to be associated with the kind of policy that demands nothing from deadbeat parents paying child support and reminds everyone that the husband of the Lieutenant Governor whored out legislation to a donor.
Don’t forget that all of the work over the last week to make these connections comes in spite of the fact that Mr. Kleefisch decided not to advance the bill.
The repercussions extend beyond November in Wisconsin. Mr. Walker is a national party player, whether he takes a stab at the presidency or not. Once Daniel Bice got wind of the story, it took little time to be featured on Slate and Mother Jones, well-known outposts of progressive hackery with national reach. Their incentive to cover this news is the capacity to mention Scott Walker’s name in a negative article about a Republican state legislator.
Republicans have no such strategy, and neither do the disjointed factions of conservative groups and movements. Though there is great coordination and strong efforts on the grassroots front and across social media and talk radio, that message remains limited to an exclusive group; it’s not broadcast to the politically apathetic who so easily fall victim to misinformation and lame slanders. Worse, there is no coordination between Democrats to implement this strategy. It’s basic political strategy designed to win the long game.
Without fighting back with a coordinated message, from both party elite and standard issue citizens, Republicans will not win elections.