Wisconsin Media Blackout on Pocan Story

For a politician who often seems like he can’t get enough press coverage, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) has suddenly gone quiet about one story; whether or not he’s the lead sponsor for any anti-Israeli forum on Capitol Hill.

Early last week, Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon reported that an unknown member of Congress had sponsored the forum, set for Thursday June 8 in a hearing room at the Cannon House Office Building. (A copy of the invitation can be seen here.)

Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about Thursday’s event—which is being sponsored by a network of anti-Israel activists and boycott supporters tied to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and other Christian groups known for their anti-Israel activism—said that the event seeks to spread anti-Israel propaganda aimed at undermining the Jewish state.

“This event is textbook propaganda aimed to perpetuate anti-Israel falsehoods and misconceptions,” said one senior congressional source familiar with the event and its sponsors.

The member of Congress who is sponsoring the event should publicly step forward and proclaim their support, the source said.

“Any member willing to sponsor this event should do so publicly,” said the official. “Come forward and defend your decision to host this Israel-bashing forum.”

Days later, Kredo issued a follow-up report where he named the mystery congressman to be Pocan.

The event, “50 Years of Israeli Military Occupation & Life for Palestinian Children,” is scheduled to be held June 8 in room 122 of Capitol Hill’s Cannon House Office Building, according to an invitation viewed by the Free Beacon.

One senior congressional source familiar with the situation said that Pocan should explain why he is backing the event.

“If true, Congressman Pocan should be ashamed of himself. This is the type of event you’d expect to take place in backrooms at the United Nations, but not in the halls of the United States Congress,” the source said. “The hosts of this forum have only one goal: to disseminate virulently anti-Israel propaganda. Congressman Pocan should stop hiding behind a cloak of anonymity, take responsibility for facilitating this event, and, ideally, cancel it.”

Groups involved in organizing the event include several advocacy organizations known for their criticism of the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF.

Since then, Pocan’s press office has gone practically underground about this matter. Multiple attempts by the Washington Free Beacon and Media Tracker to reach Pocan for comment; even to inquire if they had another side of the story to offer, have gone unanswered.

Such silence from Pocan’s office is a rather dramatic break from his office’s traditional media persona, who typically can’t wait to promote his various over the years. Just last month, nearly every media outlet in Madison and the state couldn’t wait to cover the liberal congressman’s last stunt; holding a town hall not in his district, but the district of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Janesville).

Which is what makes media blackout among both Madison and Wisconsin media outlets about the Free Beacon story all the puzzling. Other than stories at Right Wisconsin and the MacIver News Service, not a single in-state newspaper or television station has reported on the claims made by Kredo.

The media blackout of this story raises the specter they’re either ignorant to its existence, or intentionally covering for Congressman Pocan.