Media Ignores Scott Walker Transparency Scandal While Still Obsessing Over Clinton Emails

Since Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) announced his presidential campaign, the media has largely ignored the controversy over his attempt to gut Wisconsin's open records laws while continuing to obsess over Hillary Clinton's emails.

Walker, working with other Republicans in Wisconsin, inserted a measure in the proposed state budget that would, as the Associated Press reported, “shield nearly everything created by state and local government officials from Wisconsin's open records law, including drafts of legislation and staff communications.” The provision was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats in the state, with one state senator, Robert Cowles (R - Green Bay), describing it as an “assault on democracy.”

As the controversy grew, it became clear Walker's office was involved in drafting the provision. The Wisconsin State Journal noted the controversy began to heat up “barely a week before Walker was scheduled to announce a bid for the 2016 presidential nomination.” The provision was then pulled.

Yet, national media largely ignored the story after months of coverage of Hillary Clinton's emails and the issue of transparency.

Around the time of Walker's July 13 presidential announcement, the open records controversy was barely mentioned. A USA Today op-ed from a Wisconsin Democrat noted it, as did the Washington Post, along with a short mention in a CNN report.

Fox's Sean Hannity interviewed Walker on the evening of his announcement, asking what he thought about “somebody that erases not only their e-mails and then their server” but never brought up Walker's open records problem or the bipartisan backlash.

At the same time, the media continued to bring up the Clinton email story - the New York TimesUSA TodayWashington Post, Fox News during Special ReportHannity, and The Kelly File, and MSNBC on Hardball. Often the Clinton emails were still being referenced despite the absence of any relevant news. The State Department disclosure of some of the emails produced anodyne highlights like inter-office discussions about the use of a fax machine and iced tea.

As they reported on these conversations, Walker's gambit barely registered with the national press despite the furor in Wisconsin.

The media has previously exhibited this double standard on covering transparency issues within the context of covering the 2016 presidential campaign. When disclosing his emails from his time as governor of Florida, Jeb Bush omitted emails he determined were not relevant to the public record - including emails related to “politics, fundraising and personal matters while he was governor.”

Even when it became known that Bush had discussed security and troop deployments using his private email, the press barely noticed, still focusing on the Clinton story.