laceblade: Toby, Josh, and Donna of The West Wing, talking intensely (WW: 20 Hours in America)
laceblade ([personal profile] laceblade) wrote2012-07-23 08:50 am

Covering the Wisconsin Union Protests in The Newsroom 1x05

A couple episodes ago, The Newsroom had a throw-away line about Scott Walker winning the 2010 gubernatorial race in Wisconsin. I blogged about an inaccuracy in that line here.

The episode that aired last night made an attempt at covering the Wisconsin union protests in more depth.

This week, they had an episode about the Egyptian protests in Tahrir Square, with the union protests in Wisconsin being a developing side-story - I don't think they're done with it.

Maggie runs into the control room while they're on the air to say that there's a protest outside of a newspaper office in Appleton, Wisconsin. On the air, Will reports that the governor is "trapped" inside the newspaper office by 75 protesting teachers.
I don't actually remember there being any protests on February 10th, and I certainly don't remember things starting in Appleton (or the governor ever being "trapped" anywhere** - the bill was introduced on February 11th, and the first big day of protests was on February 14th. This is easy to remember because the protests were billed as "delivering valentines" to the Governor's office. The first mass-made signs had hearts on them.
(Here's some footage of the first day of major protests in Madison.)

Will reports that Scott Walker threatened to call up the National Guard - a rumor that was widely reported during the protests, but is not what he actually said (See this Politifact for details.)

There's also a few seconds spent dwelling on the average salaries of a few different types of state employees, all in the mid-$40k range.

The show does do a good job of making it clear that the protests were about collective bargaining rights for public sector unions - not the simplified "cutting teachers' jobs" that someone had warned the episode would be about on Twitter.

I don't think that this storyline will be going away. In previous episodes, Will (the anchor) has gotten shit from higher-ups for attacking the Koch brothers on air. As we know, the Koch brothers do become a key point of the protests - and I hope to God that they mock Walker for the prank phone call that was used against him.

There's a conversation in this episode as well, about the Citizens United case with the Supreme Court, and how it gave both parties the opportunity to raise unlimited funds through private corporations (which fund Republican campaigns) and public sector unions (which fund Democrat campaigns). The characters point out that the Supreme Court ruling positively affected both parties - which is why the next logical step for the GOP is to completely & utterly eviscerate the public sector unions, taking away their ability to effectively raise funds, and therefore make it exceedingly difficult to consistently beat Republicans in campaigns.
I don't think it's paranoid or overreaching for Sorkin and The Newsroom to frame the attack on collective bargaining rights as being about this issue. I believe that's exactly why Walker did what he did.


**ETA: The protest of 75 teachers in Appleton really was the start of things! Thanks to [twitter.com profile] bluecheddar1 for pointing this out to me.
jesse_the_k: mirror reflection of 1/3 of my head, creating a central third eye, a heart shaped face, and a super-pucker mouth (LUCY old and no longer)

[personal profile] jesse_the_k 2012-07-24 02:40 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you for editing the third draft of history!

Truly an informative post, and your analysis of Citizens United's impact on Republican strategy makes sense.
bibliofile: Fan & papers in a stack (from my own photo) (Default)

[personal profile] bibliofile 2012-07-25 11:25 am (UTC)(link)
As always, I read these posts with interest and even glee.

And I too had missed the Appleton teachers thing completely....