Journal Sentinel COVID Editorial

Below are excerpts from emails Tim Lyke sent last week to George Stanley and David Haynes, editor and Ideas Lab editor, respectively, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Oct. 4, 2020

Dear Mr. Stanley and Mr. Haynes:

I’ve lamented the day that [the Milwaukee Journal] stopped running editorials as they contribute to a critical role the newspaper plays in using its enlightened understanding and common sense to advocate for progress and the common welfare.

Right now, with our state facing a dearth of governmental leadership in the face of a deadly pandemic that your paper reported today has led to a record 2,800 new cases on Saturday alone, I miss more than ever your newspaper’s voice of reason and recommendation. Your news reporting is vital, absolutely, but it seems to me that you also have an obligation to leverage your wisdom and respect to advocate in your Ideas Lab or, better, in an editorial on your front page, for our governor and Legislature to convene a special session, immediately, to address the toll the virus is taking on this state.

It’s astounding that our legislative leaders are using taxpayer dollars to go to court to file a brief opposing the governor’s order when they, along with our representatives, should be meeting with him to fashion a bipartisan strategy to keep people safe and minimize the death that surely will follow the increased hospitalizations.

Please, if this isn’t the time to use your influence to call for clear-headed leadership in Madison, I don’t know when, if ever, it is.

Thank you for your consideration.

Oct. 8, 2020

Dear Mr. Stanley and Mr. Haynes:

On Sunday I requested that you use the full-throated influence of your statewide newspaper to ask our political leaders to work in tandem on identifying a unified strategy to combat the virus and save lives. I know you can do this because you’ve done it before.

On May 14 you published an editorial headlined “Politicians failed us. So it’s up to citizens to protect Wisconsin.”

How has that worked? The day that editorial appeared, 434 Wisconsinites had died of Covid. Today the total is at 1,415.

The editorial observed that “Our hospitals have not been overwhelmed. Vast temporary emergency rooms set up at the Wisconsin Center and State Fair Park have not been necessary.” As you recently have reported on your news pages, that has changed.

What hasn’t changed is the intransigence of our political “leaders” (and I use the word loosely). I don’t think it would be too melodramatic for you to suggest that inaction in Madison no longer is an option and that those in charge of state residents’ welfare risk having blood on their hands. I fear our own state Senate and Assembly representatives, like so many around the state, fear facing the consequences of betraying the trust of their caucus leadership. So busy are they saluting that we can’t count on them to exercise courage in expressing their convictions.

Please, use your privilege, power, influence and collective conscience to declare in a front-page editorial that state residents need and deserve unified guidance from the governor, Assembly and state Senate to flatten our curve so that we may return to in-person school, revive our economy and return to living in caution rather than fear.

Oct. 10, 2020

Dear Mr. Stanley and Mr. Haynes:

I owe you an apology and a thank you.

First, I apologize for my Oct. 8 email making a second plea for a front-page editorial taking our state governmental leaders to task for their failure to address the crisis that is darkening Wisconsin. Because my Milwaukee Journal carrier had contracted Covid and so temporarily had halted his newspaper route, I did not see your excellent front-page editorial published on Oct. 7 until today.

Second, I am so grateful for your newspaper having the wisdom and courage to call out legislative leaders Fitzgerald and Vos, as well as national leaders, for their deplorable behavior, and recommending Wisconsin voters not shirk from their own duty to vote against elected officials who “ran away from their responsibility when we needed them” most.

When history is written about these dreadful days, let it record that the Milwaukee Journal not only kept its readers informed through daily, data-based, statewide reporting of the viral spread, but also had the courage several times on its front page to warn state residents that they were on their own in addressing public-safety measures as state leaders were too cowardly, ignorant and selfish to act.

Kudos to you all and cheers to the Fourth Estate for propping up democracy when its other institutions appear distressingly inept.

* * *

Further proof that politics, not science, is driving public health in Wisconsin is an Oct. 9 Milwaukee Journal list showing that of lawmakers asked whether they support the Legislature’s position on ending the mask mandate, 10 said yes (all Democrats) and 43 said no (all Republicans). Four Democrats gave no answer; 71 Republicans did not respond, including our area’s state Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, and Rep. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan.

Hard to be a leader with your head in the sand.

— Tim Lyke

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(1) comment

Sallie Helmer

“It is time to elect people that are capable of rational thought. No more power-hungry Republicans,” Written by Carol Cate. The power hungry grab you are referring to is “that Barron County’s Board of Supervisors cut the $25,000 funding provided annually to Embrace?”

Power hungry Republicans are the ones enforcing our U.S. Constitution. Democrats hate our Constitution. Before you say they don’t—I will reference the Second Amendment.

As long as Republicans pay the bills--- as defined by touchy feely Liberal Democrats--- everything is fine. The minute Republicans stop using taxpayer funds – that were being used against the police and to divide Americans--- you start calling them names.

Government is the problem not the answer.

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