By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — The headline in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel screamed, “Tim Michels campaign calls police on reporters attempting to cover event.”
What the newspaper — which has openly declared war on conservatives in its coverage — failed to do is check in with the owners of SteelTank Brewing Co., the private business where the private event was held last week.
Dave Baron has a decidedly different take on why abrasive New York Times reporter Reid Epstein got the boot.
“That guy was an asshole,” Baron, co-owner of the popular Oconomowoc craft brewery and restaurant, told Empower Wisconsin. “They just wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
As the Journal Sentinel breathlessly reported, a volunteer for the campaign of Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels called police after Epstein had been asked “on multiple occasions” to leave the premises. The campaign event was closed to the media. A note on the brewery door announced as much: “Private Event. No Media.”
“I was wondering if we could get an officer over here to remove them from the private property,” the campaign volunteer told dispatchers in the 5:49 p.m. call obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The event was hosted by the conservative group Lake Country Patriots, and advertised on the group’s Facebook page. While the post did not indicate the campaign event was closed to the media, Baron said it was. Epstein and reporters at CNN were told that repeatedly.
He said his guests had every right to hold a private event on private property.
“If (Gov.) Tony Evers wanted to do an event at my place, I’d do it. I’m sure it wouldn’t be as crowded,” Baron, an avowed Michels supporter said. “But when they’re doing an event and it’s private, if you’re not an invited guest you are trespassing.”
Sources say Democratic Party officials tipped off reporters about the private event.
Epstein, a former Journal Sentinel reporter, told his old pals that police arrived and told the reporters that their cars would be towed if they didn’t hit the road.
Charlie Stadtlander, a spokesman for the New York Times, told the Journal Sentinel that Epstein and the other reporters never entered the building for the event and did not seek access after they were denied.
Stadtlander told the newspaper the event was “advertised as open to the public” and said reporters returned to their cars in the parking lot after identifying themselves as press and requesting entry to the event.
“We’re disappointed at the lack of access afforded at this event and particularly at the request of law enforcement to confront members of the press and remove them from a parking lot,” Stadtlander said in a statement.
Baron said it took police intervention before the reporters would leave. He likened the incident to some uninvited guest at a wedding reception who refuses to leave.
The Journal Sentinel hit piece makes the incident out to be some kind of First Amendment stand. It’s selective indignation. When credentialed Capitol reporters at the conservative MacIver Institute were blocked from attending Evers’ first budget briefing, the Freedom of the Press hypocrites at the Journal Sentinel remained silent. That event, of course, was on taxpayer-funded property on public time.
Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 26, 2022