The wall between Gov. Tony Evers (D-WI) and any accountability got a little higher on Friday. Evers successfully defended himself at the Appeals Court level from a lawsuit by the MacIver Institute who sought equal press access at the state Capitol to briefings being held by the governor.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:
A panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled Evers’ practice of keeping the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy out of some events, such as a briefing on his 2019 state budget, was not based on the group’s ideology. The governor is allowed to hold events with some media organizations but not others, the judges concluded.
“We find that the Governor’s media-access criteria are indeed reasonable and not an effort to suppress MacIver’s expression because of its viewpoint,” Judge Ilana Rovner wrote for the panel.
The three judges on the panel were appointed by Republicans, the newspaper reported. The MacIver Institute is considering an appeal.
The MacIver Institute is a free-market think tank based in Madison, WI. As part of its mission, the MacIver Institute covers the news as the MacIver News Service. The MacIver Institute was at the center of reporting on the Act 10 demonstrations and the recall elections in 2011 and 2012. The organization still reports on public policy, especially on the budget and education spending.
The conservative think tank does report from a point of view, just as the Capital Times and Isthmus reports on the Capitol from a point of view. That does not change that the MacIver News Service is accredited as a news organization at the Capitol.
The Evers Administration, determined to be less open to scrutiny than its predecessor, decided to exclude the MacIver Institute from a budget briefing given to the Capitol media. That was the final straw for the organization, prompting the lawsuit. MacIver lost, then appealed, and has lost again.
Media organizations across the state have been largely silent on the treatment of the MacIver Institute by the Evers Administration. Many of them would no doubt howl with rage if they were similarly treated.
There is precedent for the MacIver Institute’s lawsuit. CNN’s Jim Acosta was effectively banned from the White House temporarily by the Trump Administration. Much of the media was outraged, OUTRAGED, that Acosta would not be allowed to give speeches in the guise of questions at White House press briefings. Eventually, Acosta was allowed to return after CNN sued, with the applause of many in the media.
Members of the Wisconsin legislature, at least Republican members, are currently banned from blocking harassing leftists from their official Facebook and Twitter pages because of a lawsuit by One Wisconsin Now (OWN), the leftwing organization with the Fascist-sounding name. OWN does not have a news division, preferring to rely upon the state’s media organizations to print their press releases without question.
If OWN has a court-ordered unfettered right of access to Republican legislators, if Acosta had a court-ordered unfettered right of access to President Donald Trump’s press conferences, then surely an accredited news organization at the Wisconsin Capitol should have the same rights of access to press briefings by the Evers Administration.
The rest of the state media should ask themselves if they really believe in the freedom of the press. If they do, they will demand equal access for the MacIver Institute.