The audio: On Tuesday, a reporter impersonating billionaire David Koch, a major backer of conservative causes, bluffed his way into a 20-minute phone conversation with Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.), the man at the center of Wisconsin's dramatic labor protests. (Listen below.) Walker tells the fake Koch — actually Ian Murphy, editor of the Buffalo Beast — that the Wisconsin showdown is "our time to change the course of history." He also reveals a provisional plan to lure runaway Democrats back to Wisconsin, then employ a sly legislative technique to circumvent their voting power. Murphy, meanwhile, hams it up as a "Daddy Warbucks-style" figure consistent with the liberal take on Koch. At one point, he assures Walker that "Once you crush these bastards, I'll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time" — to which Walker responds, "All right, that would be outstanding."
The reaction: This call is proof that the stand-off is really about "cracking heads and union-busting, [as if] we live in the age of The Great Gatsby or something," says Christopher Mims at Grist. It's "breathtaking" to witness such political cronyism. The prankster himself tells Sam Stein of The Huffington Post that Walker only nixed an idea to fill protesting crowds with conservative plants because it was impractical. And a statement from the governor's office, while confirming that the conversation was real, insists that "the governor maintained his appreciation for and commitment to civil discourse." Check out a recording of the prank call:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- The real reason conservatives should be outraged that police killed a white youth
- The dangers of our passionless American life
- Girls on Film: Belle is one of the most groundbreaking, joyous movies of the summer
- The amazing resurrection of Mitt Romney
- 10 things you need to know today: August 30, 2014
- Your literary playlist: A guide to the music of Haruki Murakami
Subscribe to the Week