Wigderson of RightWisconsin responds to calls of racism after his article about MPS

The Steve Scaffidi Show

NOTE: Steve Scaffidi and WTMJ have invited members of Milwaukee Public Schools, including Milwaukee Vincent High School, to come on Steve's show to respond. Listen to James Wigderson's full interview with Scaffidi below.


An article by a Wisconsin-based conservative writer about Milwaukee Public Schools funding decisions using the words "little convicts" has led to a firestorm of criticism, accusing the author of racism, inaccuracy and ignorance.

Author James Widgerson of RightWisconsin (owned by WTMJ and parent company E.W. Scripps until 2017) responded on the Steve Scaffidi Show saying he feels some regret of context which was misinterpreted. Wigderson defended his point about MPS funding decisions for upgrades to the Vincent High School stadium in the face of a school he says is miserably failing students.

The paragraph which included Wigderson's controversial words is below, and it attempts to reference Deontay Long, a high school basketball player sentenced to probation for his part in a robbery. It does not use his name.

The new stadium is part of an $11 million improvement in athletic facilities for Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), presumably so the little convicts can have the best facilities before being sent to the penitentiary.

"As a writer, you look at things. You hope people get the full intent of what you're writing. To that extent, I probably would have used that word and put a comma after it and said 'like Deontay Long.' That's the only change that I could possibly think of making," said Wigderson on the Steve Scaffidi Show. Wigderson linked a WITI-TV article about Long to the words "before being sent to the penitentiary" in a font color of charcoal gray very similar to the black type on his story, as is the norm for numerous RightWisconsin articles but which possibly could be easily overlooked. 
The WIAA allowed Long to compete in its boys basketball state championships despite his guilty plea in the case.
"The point I was making was the screwed-up priorities of Milwaukee Public Schools where they have absolutely no idea what they are doing and they have kids trapped in their failing schools and they're not doing anything about it, but we're building a new $5.7 million stadium for a school that should be shut down instead."
The article led to major calls of racism against Wigderson by elected officials like State Senator LaTonya Johnson and State Representative David Crowley, and by Lieutenant Governor candidate Mandela Barnes.

"That was clearly not what I was doing there," claimed Wigderson,a longtime critic of MPS.

"I will continue to stand up for the minority children trapped in those schools and demand they get a better education."

Milwaukee Public Schools also sent a statement about Wigderson's column through its Twitter account.

Before his interview with Wigderson on Wednesday, Scaffidi shared his opinions.

"Words do matter. When we're talking about a situation as critical and as sensitive as MPS is...these aren't easy problems to fix. Rhetoric, hate, whether intended or otherwise, is something we have to weigh when we write, when we speak. Escalating a situation is often not helpful."

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