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Plain Talk: Don't let GOP lawmakers off the hook for propagating the 'Big Lie'

Plain Talk: Don't let GOP lawmakers off the hook for propagating the 'Big Lie'

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Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan this week singled out the Harrisburg, Pa., public radio station WITF for its efforts to make sure its listeners don't forget the state's elected officials who tried to overthrow the 2020 presidential election in their state.

Months before the election, the station’s reporters and editors were already deeply alarmed by what they saw unfolding, she wrote.

“We could see the disinformation really taking hold, this idea that the only way President Trump could lose is if the election were rigged,” Tim Lambert, the station’s news director, told her.

Then came the deadly culmination of that anti-democratic lie, the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. Those responsible for the insurrection shouldn't be allowed to fade into the dustbin of history, as though nothing at all had happened.

"In late January, the station — whose newsroom includes six reporters and two editors — posted an explanation stating that they would be regularly reminding their audience that some state legislators signed a letter urging Congress to vote against certifying the Pennsylvania election results, and that some members of Congress had voted against certifying the state’s election results for President Biden, despite no evidence to support their election-fraud claims," she wrote.

Scott Blanchard, the editor of StateImpact Pennsylvania, a public-media collaboration that joined in WITF's planning, admitted that they struggled with the decision to keep reminding listeners of those officials' roles in trying to overturn the results of a presidential election.

"We had to ask ourselves, 'Does this mean we are not independent journalists?' " Sullivan reported. "But ultimately he and Lambert and the WITF reporters felt that sustained accountability was paramount."

So should it be here in Wisconsin. The 15 Wisconsin Republican legislators who sent a letter to then Vice President Mike Pence urging him to refuse to certify the election should never be allowed to hide their participation in a scheme to overthrow democracy, even suggesting that the vote in their own state was suspect.

Those legislators — Sen. André Jacque (R-DePere) and Reps. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), Rick Gundrum (R-Slinger), Robert Brooks (R-Saukville), Cody Horlacher (R-Mukwonago), Dan Knodl (R-Germantown), Gae Magnafici (R-Dresser), Dave Murphy (R-Greenville), Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz) Joe Sanfelippo (R-West Berlin), Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh), Tim Ramthun (R-Campbellsport), Shae Sortwell (R-Two Rivers), Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) and Chuck Wichgers (R-Muskego) — need to forever be held to account for their blatant attack on the American Constitution. They were willing to disenfranchise millions of fellow citizens so they could grovel before Donald Trump and his big lie.

And so should the two "graduates" of that Republican legislative cabal — now members of Congress Tom Tiffany and Scott Fitzgerald. These two were willing to negate the votes of Wisconsin citizens based on absolutely nothing. If Wisconsin's votes for Biden were fraudulent, then how come these two right-wingers were elected in the same election?

Tiffany and Fitzgerald are doing their parts to promote the "Big Lie" that is currently ripping apart the Republican caucuses in Washington and many fear is a real long-term threat to American democracy.

Anyone who has the guts to stand up to the Trump uber alles robots — Wyoming's Liz Cheney being the prime example of one who has the guts — are ostracized and targeted with political extinction. They have become ideological embarrassments, two congressmen with no ideas of their own except to perpetuate the cultural war that grips the nation.

Yes, we must not forget.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com, 608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.

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