Press Talk: More M&M boys drama



Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor emeritus. His column of personal opinion appears the first Saturday of every month. Reach him at

I was pretty much minding my own business when the SWAT team arrived with carbines and cuffs. I must have really stepped in it.

They had pushed by the receptionist and were at my office door. I don’t sweat the small stuff, but that body armor and those automatic rifles weren’t screaming “chump change.”

“Where are they?!!!!!!” the apparent leader yelled.

He was built like a bulky bed of nails, but his size wasn’t my first concern. No, my staring down the business end of bye-bye was the immediate issue.

“Are you hearing me, man?!!!!!! Where are the damn mugs? The Don’t Do Stupid Stuff mugs?!!!!!!”

I still hadn’t said a word. My mind was spinning. Was this about the recall petition that had just been filed against three sitting county councilors?

That had to be it.

It was filed by fellow county Councilor Tom Mielke. And if that wasn’t strange enough, our Don’t Do Stupid Stuff mugs were a main player in the recall petition.

I created the mugs a couple of years ago as a fun little trinket. They’re still selling today.

But now this. Those mugs. Those damn mugs could be the end of me.

(Commercial break: You too could be the proud owner of a $10 Don’t Do Stupid Stuff mug. And now they are part of an amazingly goofy recall petition. Ripped from today’s headlines! Never in the history of mankind has a coffee mug been part of a recall petition. So don’t delay. These mugs are going fast. Only sold at The Columbian’s front desk. All profits go to doing something nice for The Columbian staff. Now back to the show.)

What’s going on?

In the wacky world of county politics, things just got wackier.

I’m not kidding!

I couldn’t resist beginning the column with a little TV-ish prose, but we’d all agree this stuff is pretty dang reality-TV entertaining. We have Mielke filing a 10-page recall petition in the hopes of getting Councilors Julie Olson, Jeanne Stewart and Council Chair Marc Boldt booted from office.

But why is Mielke trying to recall other county councilors?

Mielke and his compadre, Councilor David Madore, have been pushed around ever since they lost the majority. Mielke said this year he’s had enough and won’t run for re-election. Madore is soldiering on and will run for re-election. He is in the fight of his political life.

That’s what this recall petition is all about. Trying to save Madore’s seat. It’s all just great political theater.

“Look over there!!! No over here!!! Wait, back to there!!!”

It’s Madore’s grand hope to divert attention from what’s really going on with his sorry tenure as councilor. Thus the recall petition.

The recall petition has about a, oh, I’d say, zero percent chance of succeeding. But again, succeeding is not the goal. Diversion is the goal.

We documented all the various accusations in a front-page story this week. And because it has no chance to succeed, there’s really no need for me to get into the legal and logical reasons why it will fail.

Instead, I thought I’d examine how much time the recall petition document spent on The Columbian. OK, OK, Mielke spent most of the time trying to take me apart.

I don’t think Mielke and Madore — the M&M boys — like me.

Power of the press

But why did the M&M boys spend so much time on The Columbian? Frankly, it speaks volumes about the importance of the mainstream media. Unlike others, we bring news and opinion to a large readership. Our job is to hold the powerful accountable. And because we reach so many, that doesn’t make the powerful happy.

Newspapers may be losing some circulation, but what we’re not losing is reach and credibility. In fact, our reach is very strong because we’re heavily involved in social media — Facebook, Twitter, blogging. Add our print products and no one is even close.

We get that we’re the big dog, which means we  get attacked. They rarely waste time on others.

And our credibility is even more important than our reach. Readers trust us. We will always strive to be fair and accurate.

That’s why characters like the M&M boys go after us. Sometimes the truth hurts.

Oh, but those details in the recall petition about The Columbian are just priceless. I can’t wait to share Sunday.

(This is the first of a two-part Press Talk column on the recall petition.)