I missed out on some of the amusing commentary on the column printed in the Herald by the College Republicans two weeks ago. Luckily the Daily Cardinal, which printed an equally absurd piece by the Repubs on Friday, has given me another chance to comment on the story and still be somewhat topical.
Let’s start with the column from the Herald, written by College Republican leaders Crystal Lee and Stephen Duerst. The editors of the Herald clearly did not edit the article. Not that I necessarily blame them. There’s a fine line between polishing a piece and re-writing it. In my several years on campus, I’ve come to realize that any well-written, factually-sound article by the College Republicans is a clear misrepresentation of the organization.
But there is such a thing as journalistic integrity. I believed I was pursuing this ideal when I decided to bar columns written by the College Democrats and College Republicans last fall. It appears the orgs are back like the plague.
While Doyle engages in disagreements with members of his own party on the Congressional Finance Committee, a $6.6 billion budget deficit plagues Wisconsin.
A lot of commenters made fun of the reference to the “Congressional Finance Committee,” which of course does not exist – at least not in Wisconsin. Although I sincerely hope the two young Republicans can distinguish between state and federal government, I was more disturbed by the allegation that Wisconsin is plagued by a “$6.6 billion budget deficit.” Did Crystal and Stephen write this article three months ago, perhaps in over-anticipation of the school year? Are they aware that those Democrats on the “Joint Committee on Finance” balanced the budget? Not because they’re fiscal hawks, but because it’s required by state law. An allegation that even the balanced budget leaves Wisconsin with a structural deficit (much lower than $6 billion) would have been more reasonably aligned with the facts. But apparently the facts were not an issue for Crystal and Stephen or any of the several Herald editors who read the piece before it was printed.
The piece printed by the Cardinal (this time just Duerst) was less rife with factual inaccuracies, which is surprising because it Duerst recycled practically all of the same talking points, including facts about employment in Wisconsin, wages, General Motors, and higher taxes. It was practically a carbon copy. Ironically, however, there was an added emphasis on center-right. Duerst even claimed the CRs would move away from social issues, perhaps responding to Kevin Bargnes’ column: “Why Mikolajczak was bad for UW.”
Did Duerst do the fact-checking himself or were the Cardinal editors simply more vigilant?