Media Matters: “The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Completely Ignored ALEC’s Role In Wisconsin’s Voter ID Bill”

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An illustration of a crow inside an oval surrounded by the words "ALEC Crow Koch Bros." 21st Centrury disenfranchisement. Creative commons license, DonkeyHotey

Rep. Mark Pocan has called ALEC a “”dating service” for right-wing politicians and corporations who exercise undue influence over state law by crafting “model” legislation behind closed doors.”source

According to a recent analysis of state news outlets by Media Matters, journalists have done very little to find out what ALEC does behind closed doors or out of them.

Here’s their assessment of Wisconsin’s most popular statewide paper, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Completely Ignored ALEC’s Role In Wisconsin’s Voter ID Bill. Since January 1, 2009 (based on a Nexis search for “American Legislative Exchange Council”), the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin’s largest newspaper, has mentioned ALEC only eight times.

[There are 36 mentions of ALEC in the blue cheddar blog which has been in existence since September of 2010]

One of these mentions was a letter to the editor which cites ALEC’s position on public employee retirement reform. The remaining seven mentions were contained in straight news stories.

In March 2011, a Journal Sentinel news article noted that Gov. Scott Walker appointed an ALEC director to chair the state’s Public Service Commission. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/29/11, via Nexis]

In March and April of 2011, three mentions of ALEC appear in stories relating to an investigation by the Wisconsin GOP into the emails of a University of Wisconsin professor just a few days after he published a personal blog post about ALEC’s relationship to the party. This coverage centered around the GOP’s open-records request and the university’s response, rather than the potential motives behind the request. For example, in two of the three articles, ALEC is described only as a group that “works on model legislation of interest to conservative legislators around the country.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/27/11-4/18/11, via Nexis]

In May and June of 2011, two news stories cite sources speculating about ALEC’s influence in a union-busting bill and a bail bond reform bill and cite ALEC sources denying involvement. Another story cites an ALEC spokesman as an environmental policy expert, and another article notes that Gov. Scott Walker appointed an ALEC director to chair the state’s Public Service Commission. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/8/11-6/19/11, via Nexis]

Since January 1, 2009, no mentions of ALEC in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relate to voter ID laws. [LexisNexis, 1/1/09-3/16/12]

Visit Media Matters and the article How State Media Turned A Blind Eye To ALEC’s Influence On The Voter ID Debate to read more.

ALEC Crow illustration is by DonkeyHotey and appears under a Creative Commons license.

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