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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


In a 2016 interview with conservative Green Bay talk show host Jerry Bader, Madison businessman Eric Hovde said it’s “deplorable” how poorly most Americans are informed.

He did not say most Americans are deplorable.

“The sad thing was, what’s happened to this country, as most of your listeners know — and your listeners aren’t this because they’re well-informed people,” Hovde said.

“But most of the country, sadly, doesn’t even know what the heck is going on. They can’t even tell you when our country was founded, who the vice president (is), how many senators there are. It’s just deplorable at how low people are keeping themselves informed.”

Women focus too much on Hollywood and men too much on sports, Hovde said.

Hovde is a potential candidate to run against U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., in 2024.

He lost his bid for the Republican nomination to challenge Baldwin in 2012.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


The Jerry Bader Show: (8:25) A few minutes with Eric Hovde – Packers-Election

Heartland Signal: Potential Wisconsin Senate candidate Eric Hovde once blamed ‘deplorable’ civic engagement on Hollywood and sports

PBS Wisconsin: Second Wisconsin Republican announces bid in 2024 US Senate race

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Eric Hovde sells $4.3 million in stock while eyeing a potential GOP bid against Tammy Baldwin

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for Milwaukee Magazine and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.