PRESS EDITORIAL: The truth on reality TV

It played out on a sort of split screen last week. On one side, the televised hearing held by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol was confirming in dramatic testimony and video that members of the Trump administration knew that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election and Donald Trump lost. On the other side, news media were reporting the latest developments in the Wisconsin investigation intended to somehow prove that Trump won the election in Wisconsin even though Biden got more votes.

The Jan. 6 hearing gave its millions of viewers reason to be appalled at the video evidence of the violent attack on the Capitol by a mob trying to overturn the election and to be fearful for the future of the republic. The reports on the Gableman election investigation gave Wisconsinites reason to be embarrassed for their state.

Wisconsin has the cringeworthy distinction of being the only state in which an organized effort to invalidate the presidential vote is going on. Not only going on, but sanctioned by the Legislature and paid for by taxpayers, who have had to shell out roughly $900,000 so far to pay Michael Gableman and fund his pathetic investigation.

An investigation in name only, the Gableman boondoggle was aimed from day one at reversing the outcome of a Wisconsin election that was won by Biden by more than 21,000 votes validated by a recount, an audit and court decisions. It has failed in that effort, but succeeded in being seen as an utter fiasco.

Last week’s Gableman news was that he had hired a lawyer for the investigation who could not legally practice in Wisconsin and that he, Gableman, was held in contempt by a circuit court judge for refusing to answer questions about withholding public documents in violation of state law.   

These were only the latest in a parade of missteps including botched subpoenas and depositions, the hiring of a discredited conspiracy theorist as an investigator, a broadcast diatribe in which Gableman compared his critics to Nazis, the release of records showing that after months of spending the public’s money the investigation accomplished nothing and a nonsensical recommendation by Gableman that the Legislature decertify the election results.

Anyone capable of reading the law would know undoing an election certified by the Legislature is legally impossible. Lawyers for the legislators who hired Gableman, a former state supreme court justice, concluded that he was advocating an idea that was patently ridiculous.

Before he was hired, Gableman made public comments identifying himself as a true believer in the false claim that the election had been stolen from Trump. Video-recorded testimony under oath shown on the Jan. 6 hearing’s side of screen revealed that Trump’s closest advisers, including his daughter, knew that Biden’s victory was legitimate.

Trump’s arch conservative Republican attorney general, Bill Barr, whose Justice Department investigated the election fraud claims, found them so lacking in merit that in recorded sworn testimony he resorted to an eight-letter obscenity related to barnyard waste to describe them. The same term aptly describes the Wisconsin election investigation.

People of opposing political persuasions will have different views of the Jan. 6 hearing and the Gableman investigation, but surely all can see what the hearing’s video account and sworn testimony of former Trump administration members made indisputably clear: The Capitol riot was a violent attempt to overthrow a democratically elected government and was inspired by the same stolen-election lie that is the basis for the Gableman investigation.

It would cost no sacrifice of their ideologies for Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, to unite in the demand that federal and state elected representatives of both parties leave the malign myth of a stolen election in the dust of history and get back to serving the imperatives of democracy.


Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login