Greta Van Susteren Falls for Walker’s Waterloo Ballyhoo

Scott Walker as NapoleonIn an interview with Fox News legal eagle Greta Van Susteren, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says his upcoming recall election will be a "Waterloo" moment for national unions that will "invest everything possible to try and take me out to send a message."

Van Susteren fell for Walker's Emperor Napoleon spin, giving him ample time to describe how he is being unfairly persecuted by big-money, out-of-state unions who apparently imported all the protestors last year who surrounded and occupied the Wisconsin State Capitol. "When that started to happen, when you see the buses of people come in, the charter planes coming in -- and the money they spent. I mean, they dumped $4 million to $5 million even before any campaigns last year," Walker said.

The entire interview can been seen as one long fundraising pitch by Walker. His woe-is-me performance is countered only by the facts. The fact that close to one million Wisconsinites signed a recall petition, the largest percentage of residents per capita to ever petition to recall an elected official. The fact that Walker is outpacing all contenders in fundraising, declaring an unprecedented $12 million in January, the vast majority from out-of-state. (The current amount in the kitty won't be known until the next reporting period.) A recent open records request by the activist group One Wisconsin Now shows that from August 2011 to January 2012, Walker's schedule reflects just over 44 hours of meetings with legislators and policy staff, while 614-plus hours were blocked off as "personal" time, better known as "fundraising."

Van Susteren is an attorney. She is also a Wisconsinite from an old Republican family in Appleton, Wisconsin. Her dad ran Senator Joe McCarthy's campaigns; little Greta was dangled on his knee. She prides herself on her balanced coverage and her legal acumen; one of the slogans of her show is "Nothing Gets by Greta!" Yet Van Susteren failed to ask a single probing question of Wisconsin's governor, who recently hired criminal defense attorneys and started a legal defense fund to deal with the ongoing "John Doe" criminal investigation of his former staff being run out of the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office. She somehow forgot to query him on the 15 felony indictments against his former staff.

Because of her Fox status and Wisconsin ties, Van Susteren has unique access to Walker that other journalists do not have. CMD has criticized her in the past for failing to cover the John Doe investigation that has been going on for almost two years now, but when she flies to Milwaukee for in-depth coverage and fails to mention that yet another Walker aide was appearing before a judge, she practices a whole new level of legal malpractice.

Mary Bottari

Mary Bottari is a reporter for the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). She helped launch CMD's award-winning ALEC Exposed investigation and is a two-time recipient of the Sidney Prize for public interest journalism from the Sidney Hillman Foundation.


In terms of ethics and serious journalism, placing the "funny Napoleon hat" on Governor Walker is demeaning, sophomoric and not worthy of anyone who purports to be a serious journalistic organization. It is fine to not support his views, but the petty, cheap photo distortion is a denigration of journalism.

Dear Mr. Sarnowski-- Mary's piece is an op-ed and not a news story, as noted next to the by-line, but I regret that the photo selected in reference to Walker's claims about Waterloo upset you. We appreciate your taking the time to write in and share your view and will take it into consideration. Lisa

I agree with the earlier comment regarding the jaunty Napolean-like hat. I do not support Mr. Walker and his compadres and think the "hat" distracts from this op-ed piece.