How best to cover something like the ongoing dispute over Wisconsin's "budget repair" bill? How about you just pick a side and set your nuance aflame? That's been the essence of the cable news coverage thus far. A lot of yelling? Check. Juvenile name-calling? Got it.
I have appreciated the occasional pushback on the notion that public employees need to start making some "shared sacrifice," a call that typically comes from people who have shared nothing and sacrificed even less. David Brooks pulled this stunt on the pages of the New York Times, and was appropriately smacked around by the American Prospect's Jamelle Bouie. But that's not going to stop your rich pundit class from getting all pious about the need for the middle class to pare down and give more. (That was basically the whole point of TARP, by the way.)
As Ezra Klein points out, "Wisconsin public-sector workers face an annual compensation penalty of 11%. Adjusting for the slightly fewer hours worked per week on average, these public workers still face a compensation penalty of 5% for choosing to work in the public sector." And Abe Sauer's done a lot of careful dot-connecting, demonstrating that the way Governor Walker pits various factions of have-nots against one another is a feature, not a bug, of the overall bill.
Those are some good examples of deep and responsible reportage. On the teevee, though? Have some tortured comparisons to Cairo! Oh lord, have they been hot and heavy. It calls to mind what Jon Stewart said earlier this week:
They're not the same in any f*cking way, shape, or form, at all. At all. Not at all. This is the same as people in the Middle East throwing over years of dictatorship? Or is that just the last story you saw on the news. You know, the protests in Wisconsin remind me of the struggles of Charlie Sheen, bravely fighting his addiction.
Actually, have you seen how closely they've been following the Charlie Sheen story on, say, MSNBC THE PLACE FOR POLITICS? We'll have these comparisons yet, I promise you!
At any rate, please enjoy this mashup of representative cable teevee coverage of this important issue.
Video by Sam Wilkes and Hunter Stuart.