Amid much ignorant and some outright false reporting on the budget battle in Wisconsin, there is also some good work being done on a complex story that is being spun at the highest levels.
Take a look at this piece by Ed Henry, CNN's White House correspondent, back on Feb. 18. Henry isn't in Wisconsin, of course, he's in Washington. But he offers one of the first clear explanations of the very organized roots of this "revolution" in Madison that some foolishly and others calculatingly compare to the what recently transpired in Egypt.
And by the way, I think cable and network hosts, anchor, writers and producers sitting on their butts in New York and Washington who conflate Egypt and Madison falsely diminish the great risks their correspondent colleagues took in covering the Cairo story -- and they should probably think about that before they continue making the empty-headed comparison because they like the sound of leads that say, "From the Middle East, to the Midwest, citizens are rising up to demand...."
There is virtually no comparison -- and there certainly is no government in Madison sending out thugs to kidnap and assault reporters who are trying to report the story to the world.
Henry's piece shows the Organizing for America workers sent out by the White House to push the protest in Madison and the others that are taking place in Ohio, Colorado and Maryland. The White House working in tandem with national union leaders -- that's part of what is driving the protest MSNBC hosts like Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow characterize nightly in prime time as a grassroots rebellion by put-upon workers who are being squeezed so that Tea Party GOP legislators don't have to cut taxes for the wealthy.
Good for CNN and Henry -- his stepback piece is one of the few that has politically contextualized the story from both sides. Meanwhile, read my post here on the dishonest, rabblerousing work being done by Maddow and Schultz -- and the false statements they have made, according to PolitiFact.
More consistently good work is also being done by Greta Van Susteren on her nightly show on Fox News. Susteren is a native of Wisconsin and a graduate of the university. I was especially impressed Monday night by the informed, strong and perfectly civil interview she conducted with Lena Taylor, one of the 14 Democrat Wisconsin state senators hiding out in Illinois to avoid letting Gov. Scott Walker's budget legislation come to a vote. (Check out Van Susteren's interview at the end of the post.)
Her interview was in direct contrast to a Chris Matthews conversation with a Republican state senator from Wisconsin, Glenn Grothman, Monday night. (Check out Matthew's interview at the end of this post also.)
Furthermore, under the heading of "ugly," check out the utter lack of civility of the protestors surrounding Grothman as they shout and chant and heckle near the end of the segment so that his comments can't be heard. I saw the interview as it aired, and the heckling only got worse. Are the protestors taking cues from the MSNBC hosts? Remember how Matthews and his colleagues heckled conservatives who came on for post-victory interviews of election night in November?
Think of that the next time someone on the left want to lecture you about Fox News and how it is responsible for the lack of civility in the culture.
Speaking of civilty and Fox News, it was announced Monday that Van Susteren has joined the board of an institute for civility established in Arizona.>
The National Institute for Civil Discourse at the University of Arizona in Tuscon is a nonpartisan center for debate, research, education and policy generation regarding civility in public discourse.
The insitutue boasts an impressive lineup of board members and honorary chairs -- and Van Susteren is the only cable TV host. Honorary chairs include Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner. Among the board members with VanSusteren: one-time Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Ronald Reagan aide Ken Duberstein and former Kentucky Attorney General Trey Grayson.
And here is video of Van Susteren's interview with Wisconsin State Sen. Taylor for comparison. What do you think of it? And please tell me which interviewer you think is behaving in a civil manner while still doing the job of eliciting information on behalf of viewers.