When President Obama spoke to workers in Wisconsin last week, Politico accidentally made itself the story. The paper’s reporter mistook the Wisconsin state flag for the seal of a local union, and cited it as an illustration of President Obama’s pro-union bias.
Politico cleaned the egg off its face by wiping the story from the Internet. But the gaffe made the rounds among actual union officials in the state and now that the laughter’s subsided, they’ve turned it into a membership drive.
“When national news blog Politico came to Milwaukee to cover Pres. Obama’s visit, they incorrectly identified the Wisconsin flag as the “flag for the local union, Wisconsin 1848.” Many people got a chuckle at the embarrassing mistake, but we think it really represents something larger,” reads a new AFSCME petition. “So let’s say it loud and say it proud! Join as a charter member of “Wisconsin Local 1848” today. We’ll share up-to-the-minute information on statewide issues that affect us all.”
And there’s a t-shirt to go along with it.
Ironically, Politico’s error occurred at a time when national unions are frustrated at President Obama for supporting two pieces of legislation — a long-term FAA reauthorization, and the payroll tax cut bill — both of which cut against labor interests.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.