The Washington Post proudly announced that Obamacare was constitutional. Associate US Supreme Court Justice deemed the paper “shrilly, shrilly liberal”, yet WaPo released reports that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. This newspaper now has a storied fascination, if not dislike, for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, plus conservatives and Republicans in general. WaPo political Jenna Johnson, to her credit or criticism, has followed Walker extensively.
Her latest article betrays a juvenile lack of integrity or ingrained lack of seriousness:
“Punked” in the urban dictionary actually means “get pranked” and refers to “That 70’s Show” celeb Ashton Kutcher’s MTV show of the same name. But doesn’t a prank mean that something demeaning occurred? What happened, exactly?
The Wisconsin Governor was making the rounds with prospective voters in the Granite State, and two ebullient twenty-somethings approached him for a photo. Initially carrying a sign which read “Walker for President”, in the photo op they turned the sign over to reveal a mock check written out by the Koch Brothers to Walker for Nine hundred million dollars. The two pranksters were members of a bullying Big Green interest group, 350 Action.
For a little background. . .
The Koch Brothers are libertarian oil magnates who have recently preached against government cronyism, the very things that Occupy crowds have demanded. Relentlessly targeted as the big money behind conservative candidates and causes, Democrats throughout the 2012 and 2014 cycles attacked them as the prime source of government dysfunction and frustration. The attacks failed miserably in 2014, with Republicans taking the US Senate and 70% of the state legislatures. Walker also won his third election bid in Wisconsin.
|350 Action prank photo with Scott Walker|
Johnson’s article included some telling tidbits:
Maybe it should have been a tip-off that the two 20-somethings were so overly excited to meet Scott Walker. Like dramatically excited. The young woman was literally bouncing with excitement. And the young man had a homemade sign declaring that the Republican governor should become president.
Why would two enthusiastic promoters approaching a presidential candidate seem like a “tip-off” for something negative? Young conservatives cheered Walker in at CPAC 2013.
As Scott Walker smiled and put his arms around Tyler McFarland, 23, and Giselle Hart, 20, the sign flipped. Suddenly Walker was posing with a fake, game-show-style check made out to him from the billionaire Koch brothers, Charles Koch and David Koch, who plan to spend $889 million on the upcoming election.
Walker the candidate was genuine and caring. He has been pretty open with individual voters for selfies and camera shots. The young pranksters look petty, not the presidential candidate. After the photo bomb, one of the activists explained why they did what they did:
"Scott Walker is the worst on climate change," said Elaine Colligan, 21, a recent Georgetown University graduate who is a fellow with 350 Action, an environmental activist group that has been challenging presidential candidates from both parties on their climate change stances. "He's for being bought out by the Koch brothers."
“He’s for being bought out by the Koch Brothers” – someone call the grammar police. These individuals are Georgetown graduates, too? Also, their photo did not say anything about climate change. Not getting it.
It's not unusual for activists or protesters to stop by campaign events and put candidates on the spot — but Walker faced many more than usual during a campaign stop at Theo's late Monday morning ahead of an evening candidates' forum.
Is this really true? Why shouldn’t candidates embrace answering questions from prospective voters and donors?
Even those in the crowd who identified as proud Republicans often greeted the governor with a pointed question they wanted precisely answered. Again and again, Walker quoted passages from his standard stump speech — or told them to hold out for a policy plan.
This criticism is more telling and serious, and deserved more attention. Presidential contenders should not get away with “I’ll let you know later” or “Get back to me when I have a plan”. Yet Johnson went with “Walker got punked” rather than “Walker won’t answer pointed questions”.
This scene also deserved more reporting from Johnson:
Later, as Walker did a one-on-one interview with a local reporter, the top-hat protester jumped on top of a car and started screaming: "Scott Walker will do anything to get elected! Because that's what politicians do!" (At one point, a woman confronted the man atop the car — who at that point was complaining about wasted food being thrown into dumpsters — and asked him if those were the same dumpsters used to disposed of aborted fetuses, launching a very different discussion.)
This lady, perhaps a Walker supporter, understood the need to counter with a different narrative. Hopefully, more presidential candidates follow her example.
The last observation in Johnson’s article, she made a point in reference to Walker, only to dismiss it:
Walker has been criticized for not spending as much time in New Hampshire as other Republican candidates and for avoiding town halls here. Walker bragged on Monday that this is his 11th event in New Hampshire this year — but that's the same number of events he did in Iowa in just one weekend last month.
He spends equal time in both states. Nothing noteworthy here. Johnson later wrote an article about the decreasing political activity in New Hampshire, so who cares?
. . .Walker said he doesn't mind the difficult questions and gritty debate in New Hampshire, plus he has grown accustomed to protesters during his polarizing four years as governor in Wisconsin.
“He has grown accustomed to protesters” – a nice kudos for a presidential candidate, one who can take a photo prank with grace and move on.
The Federalist Papers Project described the 350 Action prank best:
This ridiculous stunt is stupid. What kind of a jerk does this kind of juvenile prank to someone who is running for President? Nobody thinks this is cute, or funny.
Indeed, and WaPo should have known better.