Last year I went to the Online News Association conference and blogged about the experience. The highlight for me was when Jim Pugh joined a panel discussion on polling. Jim is the resident mouthpiece for Wisconsin’s corporate lobby, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC). As I reported last year, Pugh was nearly laughed out of the room when he described WMC as ‘an issue group.’ It was very clear that the audience, mostly comprised of traditional media, were onto the joke that the ads produced by WMC are about ‘the issues.’ Now, nearly a year later, Pugh is still practicing his stand up routine in an AP story about WMC’s involvement in another race for Wisconsin’s high court.
The AP story points out that the ads in the current race overstate the Supreme Court’s role on crime and punishment. Various business groups, led by WMC, have been notorious for running ads suggesting that Supreme Court Justices should also be crime fighting super heroes. The story rightly states that this is not the role of the Supreme Court but that doesn’t matter to WMC since the ads are usually effective.
The story goes on to point out that groups like WMC have a totally corporate agenda when it comes to their efforts in elections for the high court. It is very clear that their primary concerns are matters of civil law and corporate liability, yet they fund millions of dollars in ads focusing only on crime. Enter WMC Jokeman Jim Pugh. He served up another humdinger saying that WMC focuses on crime in its ads because ‘businesses can’t operate in neighborhoods that aren’t safe.’ The truth is that WMC only focuses on crime when it is running ads during an election. You can verify this by simply going to their website and viewing the hundreds of press releases that they archive there. The only times that you will find any concern about crime from WMC is during an election cycle.
As I said last week, They are running these ads because it is poll tested and has been effective in filling the seats of our highest court with corporate rubber stamps. The ‘crime’ that the average person should be concerned with in this context, is the ‘theft’ of our judicial system. And despite Jim Pugh’s attempts at humor, there is nothing about that result that is funny.