By: Charles Geraci
Forever a part of American electoral history, Joe Wurzelbacher — better known as “Joe the Plumber” — is hitting back at the media for its coverage of him over the past year, telling Editor & Publisher the reporting has been “poorly done.”
In a wide-ranging interview with E&P, Wurzelbacher also shared his thoughts on Sarah Palin (he hopes she doesn’t run for president in 2012), Palin’s references to him in her new book, and the charge that he has capitalized off the publicity that has come with being Joe the Plumber. He also called President Obama’s ideology “un-American.”
Regarding Palin, the former Republican vice presidential candidate now making her rounds across the country on a book tour, Wurzelbacher told E&P he hopes she is not a candidate for president in 2012.
“I hope she doesn’t (run), because I think she could do a lot for America outside of office,” Wurzelbacher said. “And I think she could rally Americans to get together and make some changes from the grassroots level. I think she could be an incredible rallying point, and I think that’s where she could serve America best.”
Wurzelbacher said he’s been disappointed with the press coverage overall. “Mainstream media really painted me as a fool,” he said. “They did their best to discredit me as a tax cheat, a wife beater, a racist. You know, they said a lot of nasty things about me, and all of them untrue.”
He was especially critical of the media’s reporting on his tax lien of about $1,200, telling a gathering in Logan, Utah Thursday that a check for the full amount had been sitting at the Ohio State Capitol in Columbus two months prior to his well-documented exchange with then-candidate Barack Obama over tax policy.
“True journalism is dead,” Wurzelbacher said. “They didn’t follow up on anything. They didn’t go there to find out if I truly owed them. There was an uncashed check in there for the sum of $1,200 and some-odd dollars paid.”
Wurzelbacher also addressed the media’s reporting of his lack of an Ohio plumbing license, telling the crowd the coverage was “the one thing they had right — and the only thing so far they’ve had right.”
In her memoir “Going Rogue,” released Tuesday, Palin writes of Wurzelbacher, “Joe the Plumber reminded me personally of those Country Kitchen guys I’d sat with on Friday mornings in Wasilla when I was mayor. I liked him.”
Asked what he thought of the compliment, Wurzelbacher said, “That’s pretty cool. I’m glad she liked me because the feeling was very mutual.”
[FOR BACKGROUND on that interview, go here.]
Wurzelbacher also gave his take on President Obama and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., at Thursday’s event in Utah. While he felt Obama treated him with “respect” during their encounter in October 2008, he called the president’s ideology “un-American.”
“Other than that, my whole ire is at Congress,” he said. “That’s where we need to really focus our attention. Barack Obama’s one man. You know, do I like him, personally? No, I think he’s the wrong choice for America, honestly.”
But, surprisingly, the registered Republican — he never left the party — also had issues with McCain’s candidacy. “Do I think McCain was the answer?” he asked. “Absolutely not, especially with the bill he tried to pass with legalizing all the illegal immigrants. He was just pandering to the Hispanic vote, period.”
Wurzelbacher told those at the event to ask “direct questions” and then demand “direct answers” of those in Congress, as well as candidates running for office, before letting out more frustration with the media. “Do not be afraid of being discredited or discouraged by the press like I was,” said Wurzelbacher. “I mean, quite honestly, I think it?s absurd that I got the notoriety I got for asking an elected official a question.”
To those who charge Wurzelbacher has “capitalized on my 15 minutes of fame,” he disagrees, telling E&P, “I’m a year into this, and I am not rich by no means. My book is out of print. I’m selling the last remaining copies. I did not expect enormous dollars from it. It’s just what it is. I haven’t gotten behind any merchandise. I haven’t sold out.”
He added, “I want to show people that they can get some notoriety and maybe do some good with it. I do my best to do some charity work. I do my best to ask Americans to get involved.”
FOR MORE and picture of Joe with the author, go here.