Media bites; target bites back

State Rep. Todd Novak (R–Dodgeville) has a few things to say to The C(r)apital Times:

The editorial that the Capital Times recently wrote about my bid for re-election for the 51st Assembly District has been characterized as “ridiculous,” a “sophomoric piece” and containing “no statistics or facts, just vague statements.” I couldn’t agree more. The constituent of mine who spoke up in my defense in a letter to the editor is an independent voter and represents a voice that this paper and other Madison liberals refuse to acknowledge exists. The Cap Times is dead set on promoting its own liberal agenda. Fortunately for the readers of this paper, I get to set the record straight and show all that I’ve done to prove that I’m an independent voice for a beautiful, rural area southwest of Madison.

Prior to my election to the Assembly in 2014, I was a newspaper editor for 25 years. I wrote many critical editorials, but always made sure I could back everything up with facts, something that obviously the Cap Times does not do. The Cap Times editors wrote that they could give me high marks if I could figure out how to get something done in the Legislature. But then, when I recently announced my re-election, they stated I was disingenuous in touting my accomplishments.

Do the editors of this paper consider it disingenuous that every bill I authored this session passed the Assembly unanimously or with bipartisan votes? I had several of my requests put in the state budget, including funding for 24 Alzheimer’s and dementia specialists, two new buildings at UW-Platteville and a grant for the Monroe Arts Center so it could expand and continue to be a great asset to the city of Monroe. I also was the lead author on the $100 million safety grant for school districts to upgrade their buildings. I was appointed to the speaker’s bipartisan Task Force on Foster Care, which produced several laws. This is just a partial list, but it’s hardly disingenuous to tout this record of bipartisan accomplishments, despite the opinion of this paper.

The editors also claim that I vote lockstep with Gov. Scott Walker. This is laughable considering I voted against Foxconn because I listened to so many who had concerns. I fought against the proposed changes to the open records law and public notices, and also several environmental proposals. The list could go on. Thankfully, unlike this paper, my constituents know my record.

I’m proud to be Republican but I’m also proud to stand up and fight for what I believe in. I fight for what my constituents want, even if it goes against my party. When the Wisconsin State Journal endorsed me in the last election, they wrote, “He’s one of the most independent members of either political party.” However, the Cap Times’ editorial implies the only reason I was elected is because of the money spent on my race, but at least they admit money was also spent on my opponent’s behalf.

Another fact this paper chooses to ignore: In 2016, I was the only Republican to win in the 51st Assembly District at the state and federal level. I think this is because I make it a priority to always be engaged and accessible to my constituents, regardless if they voted for me or not. In fact, several laws I authored this session came directly from constituents.

The people of southwest Wisconsin deserve a representative who is not hyper partisan and looks out for them, regardless of party. Unfortunately, the Cap Times and Madison elitists can’t accept that, believing that what the 51st Assembly District really needs is Democratic representation. But I don’t fit the stereotype that the editors want so desperately to portray. The Cap Times has an obvious agenda and this paper should at least be honest about it.

This frankly is something Republicans should do more of. It is also a reason Donald Trump’s attacks on the media increase his popularity with his supporters, even though his attacks tend to lack specificity and therefore substance.

Republicans too often duck from taking on the media, either because they’re afraid to look bad in print or on the air or because with Fox News, conservative talk radio and conservative media they can ignore the mainstream media. The First Amendment does not immunize the news media from criticism.

Too many people in my line of work act as though the First Amendment applies only to themselves. Too many people, including apparently everyone who gets a C(r)apital Times paycheck, refuse to get the non-liberal side of any political or cultural story beyond attacking, because that might legitimize conservatives as actual people with points of view that deserve respect.

The irony here is that Novak is about as diverse a Republican as can be found. Read this story, and note the source. Of course, liberals support every kind of diversity except intellectual diversity. Novak is not my state representative (I’d have to move a few miles east), but I would certainly vote for him were he in my Assembly district. (And, by the way, Dane County is not in the 51st Assembly District. That makes The C(r)apital Times’ opinion just an opinion, and you know what opinions are like.



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