Conservative Echo Chamber in WI John Doe Case

Brendan Fischer:

5) Justices jumped right into the right-wing echo chamber

The legal issues before the Court involved the scope of Wisconsin campaign finance law and procedural issues surrounding the John Doe. Although right-wing media outlets have hyperventilated for months about the “paramilitary style raids” allegedly used in the investigation, WiCFG director Eric O’Keefe and others that filed the barrage of lawsuits against the investigation never challenged the methods used in executing the search warrants.

Former prosecutors and law enforcement professionals have said that the methods used were not abnormal for investigating white-collar crime.

Yet the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s right-wing justices couldn’t help but repeat inflated claims made by right-wing media outlets. Justice Gableman denounced the “pre-dawn, armed, paramilitary-style raids in which bright floodlights were used to illuminate the targets’ homes.” Justice Annette Ziegler devoted her entire concurrence to opining about the constitutionality of the alleged tactics used in executing search warrants, even though the Court never conducted any factual findings about the matter and never held oral arguments where the issue might have been addressed.

“I was denied the opportunity to appropriately respond to the campaign of misinformation about how and why the investigation was conducted,” Schmitz said in a statement. “All of these search warrants were audio-recorded and it is wrong for the court to accept as true the information alleged by some of the Unnamed Movants and their media outlets.”

In the absence of a genuine factual record, Ziegler and Gableman instead relied on highly-conflicted right-wing news outlets for their “facts.”

Perhaps the most extraordinary example was the Court’s multiple citations to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity’s “Wisconsin Watchdog” website. That outlet has produced 222 stories attacking the John Doe but without routinely disclosing that it was launched and funded by Eric O’Keefe, WiCFG’s director and the chief plaintiff in the lawsuits challenging the probe. Franklin Center’s president Jason Stverak used to work for O’Keefe. Its Director of Special Projects, John Connors, is also president of Citizens for a Strong America, another group involved in the investigation and which is funded entirely by WiCFG.

Additionally, Franklin Center/Wisconsin Watchdog’s funding has come in large part from the Bradley Foundation, which is led by Walker campaign chair Michael Grebe. The Court also cited a sensational National Review article on the John Doe “raids” by David French, the past president of the Foundation on Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which received more than $1.3 million from the Bradley Foundation since 1999.

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