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Van Susteren Sort Of Confronts WI Governor Walker On Prank “Koch” Phone Call

Reported by Ellen - February 24, 2011 -

On Wednesday (2/23/11), Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker got pranked by a blogger posing as conservative billionaire David Koch. In the lengthy phone call, which was recorded and posted on YouTube, Walker reveals quite a bit about his mindset which seems more anti-union and more anti-Democratic than anti-deficit. Walker even revealed that he had thought of planting some troublemakers in the protesting crowds but had rejected the idea as impractical and not useful - not as wrong. So what's an embarrassed conservative to do? Go on Fox News for some Republican Rehab, of course. Van Susteren made a half-hearted effort to confront some of what Walker said but missed the larger, more damning picture.

Van Susteren asked Walker about his response to "Koch" saying, "We sent Andrew Breitbart down there.” She said to Walker, "And you go, ‘Yeah.’”

Walker said, “Look, yeah, I don’t even know who that is.”

Well, maybe not. But what Walker said – after saying “Yeah” in the phone call was, “Good stuff.”

From the transcript:

KOCH: Goddamn, right. We sent Andrew Breitbart down there.

WALKER: Yeah.

KOCH: Yeah.

WALKER: Good stuff.

KOCH: Yeah. He’s our man, you know.

At the very least, Walker was sucking up to Koch, something that seemed to escape Van Susteren. But then Walker went on to distance himself from the Koch brothers, saying he had never met them. “This is obviously why someone calling could prank me… I know he’s an employer in this state.”

While Walker may never have actually spoken to Koch, he was hardly a stranger. As Think Progress reported,

Koch Industries was one of the biggest contributors to Walker’s gubernatorial campaign, funneling $43,000 over the course of last year. In return, Koch front groups are closely guiding the Walker agenda. The American Legislative Exchange Council, another Koch-funded group, advised Walker and the GOP legislature on its anti-labor legislation and its first corporate tax cuts.

Walker described for Van Susteren his response to the fake Koch's claim that he was going to push for people to come in and cause a disturbance: “I made it very clear that’s not right. That doesn’t work. That adds no value.”

Van Susteren noted, “It says you thought about it.”

Walker replied, "What I’ve pointed out increasingly, and I’ve said it all over the media, I’ve said it in all my interviews is that we’ve had a civil discourse amongst the people here in the state of Wisconsin. My great fear is that people come in from other states.”

But Walker did not say it “wasn’t right” when he was talking to Koch. He said it wasn’t practical or needed. That was something else that went by Van Susteren:

KOCH: Right, right. We’ll back you anyway we can. But uh, what we’re thinking about the crowds was, a, was planting some troublemakers.

WALKER: You know, the well [sighs] the only problem with – because we thought about that. The problem with, my only gut reaction to that would be right now the, the lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them. The public is not really fond of this, uh the teacher’s union did some polling of some focus groups I think and found out the public turned on them the minute they closed school down for a couple of days. The guys we got left are largely from out of state and I keep dismissing it in all my press conferences and saying uhh, they’re mostly from out of state. My only fear would be is if there was a ruckus caused, is that that would scare the public into thinking that maybe the governor has got to settle to avoid all these problems. Where as I’ve said, hey, ya know, we can handle this, people can protest, this is Madison, ya know, full of the 60s liberals, let ‘em protest. It’s not going to affect us and as long as we go back to our homes and the majority of people are telling us we’re doing the right thing… So, that’s my gut reaction, is I think it’s actually good if they’re constant, they’re noisy, but they’re quiet, nothing happens, cause sooner or later the media stops finding them interesting.

Van Susteren moved on to ask about comments about Mika Brzezinski. pointing out that the prank caller called Brzezinski “a real piece of ass” to which Walker had responded, “Oh, Yeah.”

Walker suggested his response was appropriate because they were talking about MSNBC. “What is he talking about? He’s talking about MSNBC… I said I go on any network out there.”

So Scott thinks it's OK to say a thing like that because they were talking about MSNBC? Van Susteren let that go by, too.

Van Susteren also mentioned how Koch offered to fly Walker out to “Cali” and “show you a good time” "once you crush these bastards."

Walker replied to Van Susteren, “The bottom line is, I have never met the guy before I don’t even know what he’s talking about in terms of that place. For me, I felt uncomfortable from the point where when he fist started talking about disrupting.”

To be fair, I’m not sure Walker heard “Koch” say Brzezinski was a “piece of ass.” I had trouble hearing it and the transcript I used missed it entirely. But there are several disturbing aspects of the conversation Van Susteren failed to address:

As Greg Sargent mentions, Walker didn’t bat an eye when Koch refers to "Democrat bastards," says, “You gotta crush that union,” or “Bring a baseball bat (to a meeting with the Democrats), that’s what I’d do.” In fact, Walker seems to approve, saying, “Have one in my office here. You’d be happy with that. I’ve got a slugger with my name on it.”

Also, as Daily Kos’ Barbara Morrill points out, the phone call removes any and all doubt that union busting is Walker’s goal. She noted that Walker grandiosely compared his stance to putting a crack in the Berlin Wall.

Oh, and one thing Walker didn’t talk about much? The budget.

Van Susteren either missed those points or else she chose to overlook them.

The entire phone call, in two parts, is below. You can also read the transcript at One Wisconsin Now.





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