Thursday, August 23, 2012

RoJo's Handlers v. The Chief Political Correspondent

At a Romney-Ryan campaign event yesterday at Monona Terrace featuring our Junior Senator, Ron Johnson, WTDY reporter Dylan Brogan was barred from attending and escorted from the event by the cops.  RoJo’s handlers told Brogan in essence he wasn’t welcome at their events, because WTDY talk show host Sly has been a thorn in their side by organizing protests to Romney-Ryan campaign events.

Once again, I must get out my soapbox and remind RoJo’s people that the First Amendment is not there to protect popular speech and popular media, neither of which needs much protection; it’s there to protect UNPOPULAR speech and UNPOPULAR media.  Sly is well within his rights to organize and energize the “Walker Stalkers”, who follow the gov around and give him a hard time; and Sly is well within his rights to organize protests when RoJo shows up in Wisconsin. 

When RoJo’s handlers gave Chief Political Correspondent Dylan Brogan the heave-ho, they violated Brogan’s First Amendment Rights; WTDY’s First Amendment Rights; and, more importantly, everyone else’s First Amendment Rights.  Brogan was guilty by association, I guess.  RoJo’s handlers should not be making the mistake most untrained people do, in thinking that a talk show is a form of “news”….although the editorial wall at WTDY has long been pretty thin, no thanks to “news” people like me.

Sidebar about titles: I chuckle when Dylan is referred to as “Chief Political Correspondent”.  They love titles like that over there on RayOVac Drive at MidWest.  I guess it’s supposed to make you think that Dylan is the head of a phalanx of political correspondents in WTDY’s employ.  Among its many enterprises, MidWest has an operating division with 5 employees, and their boss refers to himself as the CEO.  Years ago, when I worked for MidWest in the Fox Valley, my boss, the General Manger (of about 35 employees, a third of them part-time) referred to himself as the “Chairman of the Board and General Manager” of the station.

It is as wrong for RoJo’s minions to ban WTDY’s reporter(s) from public political events as it would be if the Dems decided that reporters for WTMJ and WISN in Milwaukee should be banned from their public events, because of the right-wing bent of Charlie Sykes or Mark Belling.  Granted, neither Sykes nor Belling organize protests against Democratic party public events, like Sly does for Republican events, but the concept is the same.

Quite a few years ago, when Susan J. M. Bauman, our city’s first female mayor, got mad at Sly for saying something untoward about her on the air, she banished the station’s reporters from City Hall.  (Somewhere in my vast t-shirt collection is one Sly had made, with a caricature of Bauman on a broom, hovering over the Capitol building.) The ban lasted for several hours, until General Manager Bill Vancil phoned the station’s local lawyer, who then phoned Her Honor (who is also a lawyer) and reminded her about that pesky First Amendment thing.

The picture at the top of this post is of the late Ben Masel, the best friend the First Amendment ever had in Madison.  Ben essentially made a living by suing municipalities, police departments, and sundry other organizations which violated his First Amendment rights. 

In this country, it’s OK to say unpopular things about the government and those who seek its highest offices.  The First Amendment doesn’t care which political party, if any, is doing the speaking.  RoJo’s handlers should not need a refresher course on that fact.


  1. Brogan et al are agitators not reporters.

    1. Regardless of whether they are agitators or reporters, the First Amendment still covers them. Why is that so hard to understand?

    2. Your argument only holds water if the event was truly held in a public space. Do you know if the space was being rented? If so, game over. If not, you have a point.

      Funny, I dont remember all this outrage from your side when a WR reporter was banned from entering the WI Dem convention, the current administration was trying to push out FOX reporters or when the administration is scripting what local reporters can ask.

      Protest is fine but understand that there can be consequences such as the recall fail and the situation that went down yesterday. Sly and Brogan can continue the faux outrage and martyrdom but they are only preaching to the choir.

    3. As it turns out, the space was rented, so RoJo's folks had the right to exclude people, even reporters. Nonetheless, it was a stoopid move, and it's stoopid whether it's the Dems banning right-leaning media or vice-versa.

      I'm interested that you refer to "my side" - assuming that I'm a Madison lefty. NOT so. Thoroughly independent since I was a child.

      Yes, Sly and Brogan are preaching to the choir. The station they are on is among the lowest-rated in Madison. But that doesn't diminish one bit the point of this post: the First Amendment applies to EVERYONE, not just "your side".

  2. @Anon: wow, you just truly do not understand, do you? What a fantastic demonstration of the uniquely unaware/unalert nature of the tea-party side of things ...

  3. Nice and concise. It's not a complicated concept. I run into little political tyrants who don't understand it, almost daily. Many elected officials confuse election with heredity. Wrong country. Reminds me of the public information people these days who look for ways to keep information secret rather than ways to keep it public.