Wisconsin recall witch hunt hits Milwaukee’s right wing: employees signed at WTMJ and TMJ4


The recall signature witch hunt strikes again.

Four employees at 620 WTMJ, a right-wing station out of Milwaukee, have signed the recall petition against Scott Walker. Their names are not being made public and they have been disciplined according to Steve Wexler who spoke about the matter today in an interview with Charlie Sykes.

I suspect that by “disciplined” Wexler really meant “laid off” or “thumb screwed”.

Michael Grebe is President and CEO for the ultra-right wing Bradley Foundation. Grebe also chaired Scott Walker’s campaign for governor. Host at WTMJ, Charlie Sykes, is husband to Janet Riordan who works for the conservative Bradley Foundation. Sykes is a “commentator” for WPRI which is funded by the Bradley Foundation.

After the interview, Sykes said “now the mask is being taken off” and you are being exposed to media’s liberal bias [to which I laughed] and Sykes added “maybe these events are wakeup calls.”

“I do think that our station should have been transparent”, Sykes said today meaning that his own station should name the names of the individuals who signed. Sykes called for all stations and news outlets to review all employees to check if they signed Scott Walker’s recall petition on March 26th:

“(1) Having reported that 25 journalists violated the company’s code of ethics, will Gannett report the names i the name of transparency, and (2) will other media outlets in the state conduct the same kind of review and report the results?” – source

As you may remember, in the past though recall petition signatures have been made public as scanned PDF files on the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board web site, those names were not easily searchable. Right wing groups called True the Vote and Verify the Recall organized volunteers to enter names into a database for use by the G.A.B. This database was the first petition signature database made public and had by many accounts has a very high error rate with many signature exclusions. That database was used to identify journalists at Gannett media outlets that signed the recall.

This witch hunt is made possible at our expense and with G.A.B. complicity.

A searchable database of all recall signers is now available through the G.A.B. web site itself. The work of entering the G.A.B.’s petition names was done by state staff at taxpayer expense. Final approval for this was made on March 30, the same date that 6 recent recalls were certified.

G.A.B. poured extensive resources into creation of the searchable database for Walker’s petition signers after Friends of Scott Walker [which Grebe is also linked with] sued G.A.B. to force it to ensure duplicates were not counted.

Judge Mac Davis of Waukesha County ruled that the GAB ”must take reasonable, affirmative steps to identify and strike duplicate, fictitious or unverifiable signatures from recall petitions.”

You might call Judge Davis an “activist judge” given that through his ruling he transferred the onus of checking for duplicates from Scott Walker and friends to the State of Wisconsin. All recall petitions previous to Walker’s were examined and then legally challenged by the politicians under recall themselves BECAUSE under the law, that is their responsibility.

From Badger Democracy:
“Statute 9.10 taken in full is in conflict with Davis’ ruling. Subsection 2 (g) reads: “The burden of proof for any challenge rests with the individual bringing the challenge”, and supports prior GAB opinion and ruling on this statute.”

From WTMJ:
“MILWAUKEE- We have some news we need to tell you about ourselves, and the recall election against Governor Scott Walker.

TODAY’S TMJ4 and Newsradio 620 WTMJ discovered that several members of our staff signed the recall petitions for Governor Walker. Some of those employees play a role in our news-gathering and editorial process. Several of them also work on-air: One at TODAY’S TMJ4; four at Newsradio 620 WTMJ.

We want you to know that we consider this a serious issue. We are in the process of dealing with it internally. Our reputation of being a fair and unbiased news source is of paramount importance to both TODAY’S TMJ4 and Newsradio 620 WTMJ.

We expect anyone involved in the production of news to avoid situations that could compromise our integrity. We don’t allow news employees to sign nomination papers for candidates, display yard signs or take part in a political campaign.

However, many employees told us that they felt signing the recall petition was not a political act, but instead felt it was similar to casting a vote. WTMJ does not agree and we want to assure you, our viewers, that we are taking measures to make sure all of our reporting is fair, balanced and to ensure something like this does not happen again. ” – source

Sources used in this post:
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Sykes’ Slandering Should Cost TMJ Their License

From local roots, Bradley Foundation builds conservative empire

Dogged by Bice July 2009

Steve Wexler
is Executive Vice President of Television and Radio Operations at the Journal Broadcast Group, as well as Vice President and General Manager of WTMJ-TV.


  8 comments for “Wisconsin recall witch hunt hits Milwaukee’s right wing: employees signed at WTMJ and TMJ4

  1. robert beltran
    April 10, 2012 at 7:11 am

    I hope the “disciplined” employees get the support of a good attorney (ACLU, are you listening?) and sue the pants off their employer for denying them their civil right as U.S. and Wisconsin citizens to carry out their right and duty as citizens. Clearly, to deny the right to sign a petition is tantamount to denying the right to cast a vote. If one employer can prohibit an employee form signing petitions, then any employer -and, in fact, all employers- could do likewise. Were all employers to adopt a similar policy, it would be effectively impossible for any petition to acquire enough signatures to make the ballot. This would make it impossible for any candidate’s name or any initiative or recall to appear on the ballot, and the democracy would perish.

    Sue the B@$t@rds.

  2. Dana Elliott
    April 5, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Mr. Anonymous – It should be “You’re a moron”, not “Your a moron”. You might want to rethink that home schooling you took. LOL.

  3. Uncle Bucky
    April 5, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Let’s give this the sniff test; it’s “ethical” for newspapers, including Gannet, to endorse candidates for political office(a definite public display of political stance) but an employee is disciplined for signing a recall petition, yep smells like BS to me! O.K. I get it, (imagine a back room with the old white crazy guys from ALEC and the Bradley Foundation smoking their cigars and having a conference call with Craig A. Dubow, Steve Wexler, and others) “We’ll pull corporate advertising and sponsor Charlie Yikes on a different station if you don’t help us to put down this uprising”! You can fill in the parts of the conversation but I think I did hear them at the end with “long live McCarthyism!”

  4. April 5, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    “We don’t allow news employees to sign nomination papers for candidates”

    Speaking of, will the nomination papers for the “Fakes” running in the Democratic Primaries be available online? I’m curious to know if anyone I know signed one of those….

    • April 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      I think that those sigs. will be made public– yes.

  5. Judie Papadakis
    April 5, 2012 at 1:23 am

    I am very angry that Wtmj4 is taking this stance against its employees that signed the recall. It is their private business how they feel politically. They have a right to vote any way they need to and sign recalls if they are so moved. This does not mean they can not do the job honestly or effectively. If they are punished I will stop watching wtmj4…..
    We all have a right to our political beliefs, no matter what are careers are.

  6. Anonymous
    April 5, 2012 at 1:07 am

    Right wing? WTMJ – RIGHT WING????
    Your a moron!

Comments are closed.