Anatomy of the Slur in the Mark Pocan Race in Wis.

Media Trackers bills itself as a "conservative nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative watchdog dedicated to promoting accountability in the media and government across Wisconsin through cutting-edge research and communications initiatives."

It is the website that on Oct. 29 ran a long blog post entitled "Mark Pocan's Husband Told Beaten GOP Operative 'You're a Marked Man,' Threatened and Harassed Via Text Message."

By that afternoon Isthmus and others were reporting that the alleged texts between Phil Frank, state Rep. Pocan's husband, and Kyle Wood, then a campaign worker for Republican congressional candidate Chad Lee, were made up. Pocan, a Democrat, and Lee are running for the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by Tammy Baldwin, who is running for U.S. Senate.

Madison police also updated an earlier incident report indicating that Wood, who is gay, had recanted previous statements about being beaten in his home.

The headline chosen by Media Trackers stated as fact that harassing texts were sent by Frank to Wood. Yet author Brian Sikma provided no evidence he had investigated the veracity of the texts. He nevertheless ran the alleged full transcript of the text exchange, which, when printed, ran three pages.

A reader using the handle "Badgerlvr" commented: "Thank you for doing the job that other 'reporters' fail to do."

In fact, Sikma failed to do what professional reporters do: namely, confirm allegations before publication.

For the rest of Davidoff’s excellent story, please go to

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