Professor at a public university, known for his smart scholarship in the field of nineteenth century U.S. environmental history, writes a blog post attacking a contemporary political initiative undertaken by his governor. The governor's political party tries to embarrass and intimidate him, and he scrambles onto a pedestal as he shouts for them to stop. You can't attack me, he says. I'm a scholar.
I suppose that's a fair description, if you replace "writes a blog post attacking a contemporary political initiative undertaken by his governor" with "writes a blog post pointing out the machinations of a well-funded and influential conservative vested-interest group and the possibility that it is unduly influencing the political decisions of the dominant political party in his state and its currently out-of-character policies". Then yeah, I can see where you're coming from.
You can "change the tone and the nature of the question" all you like, but it doesn't change the fact that the reason the Wisconsin Republican Party is trying to take on Cronon is because he's hit a nerve.