The Wisconsin recall election today. The incumbent Scott Walker is opposing the Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and the Democrats are pulling out all the stops in the past three or four days. I don’t know what the exact time frame is, but somebody in Wisconsin started a rumor that Scott Walker fathered an illegitimate child 24 years ago. It’s much like the rumor on the Friday before the election in 2000 that George Bush had been convicted of a DUI that nobody heard of. That rumor did hurt Bush.

It has been documented statistically that that rumor did some damage to Bush’s vote count on Election Day five days later. Now this rumor about Scott Walker having fathered an illegitimate child 24 years ago is by some outfit called the Wisconsin Citizens Media Co-op and they said they got it from a woman named Bernadette Gillick. Bernadette Gillick teaches physical therapy at the University of Minnesota.

And the story goes that she said she knew Scott Walker’s girlfriend when they were students at Marquette. And this Wisconsin Citizens Media Co-op said they hadn’t been able to “independently verify” Bernadette Gillick’s account, but they went ahead and ran the story anyway. So a reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tracked it all down and talked to Bernadette Gillick’s freshman-year roommate at Marquette and she said: Oh, no, no, no, it’s not true!

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