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: