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ABC This Week’s Elites to Wisconsin Workers: “We Won, So Screw You All”

ABC’s This Week didn’t even make a pretense of being fair and balanced, let alone honest, because the truth probably frightens them. In covering the historic labor protests in Wisconsin, ABC stacked it’s panel with the elitist right wing propagandist George Will (left unchecked by his nemesis fact-checker, Paul Krugman), a Tea-GOP freshman from Florida, and a senior ABC reporter apparently okay with deficit hysteria, all arrayed against “labor Democrat” Donna Brazile.

Even the usually sensible host Amanpour wondered if the President’s mild statement about an “assault” on public employees went too far. Heavens, pass the smelling salts!

Ms. Brazile thus got barely one chance in four to push back on the rest of the elitist panel’s defense of why it’s absolutely essential that states balance their budgets on the backs of public employees immediately after Wisconsin’s Governor and the elitists Obama/Congress just gave corporations and the wealthiest Americans massive tax gifts.

So while Brazile was able to note that banksters and their elite friends had caused the near depression that tanked families and state budgets and caused over 400,000 state employees to lose their jobs, she didn’t have enough moments to point our that income equality in America is worse than Egypt, that the richest 1 percent get nearly a quarter of America’s wealth and income and that the wealthiest 10 percent capture more than half.

The ABC panel couldn’t recall that banksters were bailed out with trillions, that they reaped record bonuses, then record profits but face no significant tax on their reckless transactions. Also lost from memory are that Obama and Congress just handed the richest Americans hundreds of billions with promises of trillions more, that hedge fund managers face far lower tax rates for their billion dollar paydays or that many corporations, including those to whom Governor Walker just gave $100 million in tax breaks, pay no taxes at all. And if you don’t know what $1 billion will buy you, see Dave Johnson’s 9 pictures that expose this country’s obscene division of wealth.

In the face of such facts that ought to have millions of us in the streets, none of ABC’s elitists thought it worth wondering why public school teachers or any of America’s labor class should be asked to contribute a dime to Gov. Walker’s partly self-inflicted deficit, let alone make major salary concessions (which they’ve offered) or give up collective bargaining rights.

The set up to this elitist “I can’t hear you!” session was a report from ABCs Bob Woodruff in which he gave prominent coverage to a relatively tiny group of Tea-bots and their leader. The leader’s main argument for stripping employees of their collective bargaining rights was “we won, you lost,” which he repeatedly screamed at the protesters as he walked through the huge crowds surrounding the Wisconsin State Capitol.

Mr. Tea-bot’s message, echoed by George Will and endorsed by Amanpour was simple: This is about power, and we won, so we can do anything we want to screw you, including stripping you of rights that are fundamental in allocating wealth and privilege in a democratic society. No one noticed that this principle — that government should have the right to strip citizens of economic and political rights — is the direct opposite of the individual rights premise the Tea-Party falsely claims to support.

Woodruff had to follow the Tea-bot around, because the story had begun with a high school teacher who found himself a leader when public employees and their tens of thousands of allies showed up every day last week. That’s the biggest story in America, right now, but Woodruff couldn’t tell it straight. The idea that large numbers of ordinary Americans might be disgusted when their right wing government tries to disempower them and spontaneously gather by the tens of thousands to protest the Beltway’s core beliefs about the distribution of wealth is not something an elitist network can handle.

So Woodruff played it safe and hid from us what any third grade math student would have noticed. This was just dueling demonstrations, he said. Here’s Bob talking to group A’s leader, here’s Bob talking to group B’s leader. Here’s a cropped picture of some people in one group, here’s some in the other group. But for heaven’s sake, never show or explain that there were an estimated 10,000, then 30,000, and by Saturday, between 55,000 to 70,000 protesters in Madison alone, opposing Governor Walker’s rights-stripping plans, but only a mere 1,000 or less on the other side who had been rounded up and bused in courtesy of one of Koch Industry’s front groups.

Koch is one of America’s largest oil/gas resources conglomerates and a major contributor to the Walker campaign. These were the equivalent of Mubarak’s paid thugs trying to provoke violence.

As Think Progress and others have reported, one of Koch’s front groups, Americans for Prosperity, is a major funder of the Tea Party; it helps organize and pay for “grass roots” Tea Party events.

Koch is also the founder of a right wing front group called American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), through which Koch and other corporations fund right wing think tanks and literally buy studies and op-eds in support of legislation for right wing state legislators. Among ALEC’s priorities, in addition to bills like Arizona’s to use the state police to bust undocumented workers, is to bust unions, both public and private. So it’s largely Koch/ALEC’s water that Wisconsin’s Governor Walker, as well as the right wing governors in Ohio, New Jersey, and Florida, are carrying.

One of ALEC’s hacks appeared with the inept Judy Woodruff on PBS News Hour last week. His role was to make certain that the American Federation of Teachers rep who tried to explain why the Wisconsin protests were important was forced to answer propaganda manufactured by ALEC. All of that should have been debunked before hand by PBS. But as usual, PBS didn’t bother to tell us who ALEC is, or who fronts them, and as usual with Judy’s “reporting,” that interview left viewers more misinformed than they were before.

We are overwhelmed in this fight if it’s fought in the elite media. But as Egypt showed us, the real numbers in the street are the counterbalance. If you’re in/near Wisconsin, or any of the other states where solidarity or related demonstrations are scheduled, go.

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley