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.