The PJ Tatler

Anatomy of a Smear Gone Sideways

The feminist website Jezebel thought they had a delicious line of attack against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. They discovered in the Wisconsin budget a couple of lines that indicated Walker wanted to halt the reporting of campus rapes to the state.

Of course, this played perfectly into the “war on women” narrative with the extra added bonus of making Walker look like he was trying to protect rapists.

Several left-wing media outlets picked up on the story and ran with it. Unfortunately for them, the story was bogus. The University of Wisconsin had asked Walker to remove the reporting requirement because they already reported sexual assaults on campus to the US Department of Education.

Jezebel tried the “fake but accurate” defense:

After Jezebel ran this item yesterday, a spokesman for the University of Wisconsin came forward—over two weeks after the budget was released—to clarify: the University requested that Gov. Walker delete the requirements because efforts were redundant with their compliance of the Clery Act. Scott Walker’s camp assures that he’s committed to protecting victims. We reported this piece without full context, and while this piece conveys factual information, omission of that context for that information presents an unfair and misleading picture. We regret the error and apologize.]

The Daily Beast tried shifting blame:

When The Daily Beast contacted Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel for comment on Friday, his office expressed reservations about Walker’s proposal. His office told The Daily Beast in a statement that the Attorney General “is concerned about some of the provisions in the budget that may reduce information provided to college students and take away reporting requirements. He will work with representatives from UW and the Governor’s office to determine what prompted these changes and to ensure that we provide all of the protection we reasonably can for our college students,” but it is unclear if Schimel’s office was aware of the stated purpose of the provision in question. The Daily Beast is committed to covering the news fairly and accurately, and we should have checked this story more thoroughly. We deeply regret the error and apologize to Gov. Walker and our readers. Our original story should be considered retracted.

Not our fault. The AG misled us! Sheesh.

At least they retracted the story. Jezebel hasn’t.

In their eagerness to smear Governor Walker, the left-wing media jumped to conclusions. What makes the error so egregious, however, is that a simple Google search would have turned up the fact that the state university system had asked that they not be required to report sexual assaults to both the state and the Department of Education.

But the left-wing media couldn’t let the facts get in the way of a good hit piece. They didn’t want to know if the story was true, so they didn’t check.