"0ne of those pathetic bloggers who tries to make a living out of attacking other bloggers and media folk in an effort to illicit a reaction and draw traffic to his site." -- Owen Robinson of Boots and Sabers
2. If you are the subject of a controversy that is clearly going to hit the papers, return the reporter's calls. Silence speaks volumes -- particularly if you're the only person who, over the course of the day (you know how they update, these newspaper blogs), doesn't comment.
3. If you are going to wait days to comment, at least make it coherent and on topic. No one really cares whether you wrote about gay marriage.
5. The sex lives of celebrities, even those of Z-grade widely unheard radio hosts, have been standard fare for media coverage for decades. If you're a family values politician, or married to one, that goes double. No one is going to raise the "Why is this news?" question seriously except for partisans. Complaining about it is like debating the merits of different brands of buggy whips. Was Britney Spears' sister's pregnancy newsworthy? You linked to it.
5. No one is going to take your whining about coverage of your "sex life" seriously when you label kids fair game in dishonest political attacks.
6. If you're going to write a long screed, at least address the immediate topic (i.e., has the affair been ongoing). Not mentioning it, or idle references to your "sex life," could be seen by some as a tacit admission that the latest reports are, in fact, true.
7. Throwing out unsubstantiated accusations of "libel" only makes you look silly. That said, it's good you're not employing the "my husband is a lawyer" threat anymore.
8. You say: "I had no journalistic, nor any professional relationship, with Chief Flynn – nor did I anticipate ever having one again. I was a periodic freelancer who chose the stories I wanted to do and rejected the ones I didn’t." You say this to suggest there was no conflict of interest as you carried on with the chief. This is clearly disingenuous, however, as you continued to write about law enforcement issues that had some bearing on the chief.
But it is clear that some at UWM view the school's journalism department as a joke as they gave Jessica McBride the nod for the equivalent of tenture.
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Bucher's divorce filing comes less than a month after the executive committee of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's department of journalism and mass communication voted 3-2 to recommend that McBride be given indefinite status - the equivalent of tenure for academic staff.
McBride, a lecturer in the journalism department and a columnist for The Freeman, was represented by Bucher during the process. The recommendation for indefinite status still must be approved by the dean and provost.
Why is this disturbing? It's not because Jessica McBride is deeply ignorant, it's not because of the affair, it's not because of her politics. It's because she is a disaster as a journalist. The Brawler and others have long documented her history of character assassination, her disregard for accuracy (not the same as objectivity) and general slipshod journalistic ethics.
I think I was too defensive in reacting to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story reporting the affair between McBride and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn. Worse, I am guilty of the same thing I accused JS reporter Daniel Bice of: I failed to do due diligence regarding the situation.
Specifically, I neglected to demand from McBride all of the e-mails between her and Flynn. I have now done that and was taken aback at what I received.(Brawler's bold) The e-mails do confirm that, other than their one interview in December, McBride and Flynn never met face-to-face until May 1, at their now-infamous encounter at an Irish bar. (In fact, Flynn was using his office e-mail account until then, which suggests neither McBride nor Flynn thought they were doing anything wrong; these are all public records.)
But the e-mails also suggest the two got chatty and friendly – strictly through e-mail, granted, but it’s a lot of e-mail – as soon as McBride finished reporting her story on Jan. 5. I’m also not confident I’ve seen all the e-mail, as McBride couldn’t be sure she hadn’t erased some. That’s all rather disturbing. (Brawler's bold)
Let's be clear. It takes a lot for an editor to call out a writer -- it takes a lot more for an editor to call out a writer who he defended. It takes a lot for an editor to say he lacks confidence in a writer (and McBride's lack of certainty as to whether she erased email is a howler).
What does one look for in a journalism teacher. Obviously one looks for someone who can competently teach the nuts and bolts of journalism -- and in this economy, finding people who can do that ain't hard. But one also looks for someone who has an exemplary record as a practicing journalist, who's been in the trenches, who's operated ethically and who's conduct hasn't been called out by an editor.
The fact that three people on the executive committee thought Jessica lived up to those standards is more than a little confounding.
Michael Horne thinks Jessica McBride made a mistake when she said she liased with Ed Flynn as an academic, not a journalist. The Brawler tends to agree that her self-destructive streak couldn't help but manifest itself in her statement.
With Jessica McBride describing herself as an "academic" when she fell for the chief at Brocach, it gives the impression she is somehow relating her adultery to her position as an Instructor at the university. This may be of more consequence to the faculty evaluators of UWM than is her affair with the chief.
The Brawler has long admired Milwaukee Magazine Editor Bruce Murphy's journalism. Indeed, it's ironic that Murphy got his start there under Sykes, given that he has far surpassed his boss in accomplishment.
So, the Brawler was looking forward to seeing what Murphy would say regarding the disclosure that Jessica McBride had an affair with Milwaukee police chief Ed Flynn. Murphy published it today. A few thoughts.
If the timeline as Murphy presents is correct (i.e., no affair until after the story ran, big questions the the MJS as to when it happened) -- and the Brawler has no reason to question it -- then Dan Bice did Milwaukee Magazine and Murphy a great disservice in his characterization of the magazine's response in his original story. (Jessica McBride could have clarified to the JS when the affair first started -- i.e., after the story was published -- but she chose not to. Which didn't do Murphy any favors.)
I don't see a compelling reason for Milwaukee Magazine to distance itself from the story if in fact the affair started after the story was written and published.
I don't think Murphy had any compelling reason to believe that anything untoward was going on (though I think he puts undue weight on her pushing him to include "negative" quotes as proof she wasn't smitten at the time of writing. Jessica has shown a willingness to compartmentalize over the years. Trying to make a story stronger by including negative quotes doesn't contradict having a crush on the object of the story. She could be trying to overcompensate. Or she could think the attacks make him seem more noble, etc.(And this assumes there was no communication going on between Flynn & McBride that Murphy doesn't know about.)
That said, I think Murphy's response falls short on some counts.
"It’s always tempting to publish something like this – if there is a public policy issue at stake. Bice, however, offered no evidence the affair has in any way detracted from Flynn's performance as police chief." That's true, but that doesn't make it less newsworthy. At a minimum the affair made him a blackmail risk (paging Archbishop Weakland). Given the job of cops is to find stuff out and it's a gossipy bunch, it's quite likely the dalliance could have come to light internally and become a sort of wink-wink nod-nod bit of gossip that corroded his moral authority. And the fact that someone was aggressively pushing news of the affair likely suggested to the MJS that this was going to be a story, one way or another. this revelation surely meant that someone was trying to actively undermine him -- something the JS no doubt had to weigh. A month-old affair may not have detracted from his performance, but it ultimately and quite realistically could have (not that Bice tried to make that argument.) Or should journalists ignore stuff like this until it completely blows up with wide-ranging implications.
"Typically, once Milwaukee Magazine does an in-depth story on someone like Flynn, we’re unlikely to ever feature him again. McBride, of course, would have been honor-bound to disclose her relationship with Flynn had we ever asked her to cover him again. That’s when the issue of a conflict of interest would have arisen." This doesn't pass muster. While MM may have been unlikely to "feature" Flynn, it quite likely would cover a crime issue in the future in which the chief or the MPD would play a role or have a stake. And McBride would potentially be given that story. And, as the Brawler noted earlier, McBride's May 30 column for the Waukesha Freeman denounced legislation requiring the collection and reporting of traffic stop information -- I'm betting Flynn's not a fan of that. As for "honor-bound," I don't think that enters the picture.
"Back when I started running McBride’s stories, I heard from liberals who were upset, as McBride is a conservative commentator. My only concern, I told them, is how good a reporter she is." When McBride did a story about Gary George's connections to a Hmong group charged with planning terrorist attacks in Laos, my concern was that McBride had publicly advocated for the plotters on her blog and in her Waukesha Freeman column (not disclosed in her story). My concern was that she whitewashed Vang Pao, the anticommunist Hmong leader who was charged in the case, as some noble hero when there's more than credible evidence suggesting he was a war criminal,a drug trafficker and a scam artist -- shoot, Murphy just had to ask his buddy Marc Eisen about that! My concern was that she smeared the reporting (as opposed to honestly contest and engage) of Arthur McCoy, who risked life and limb during the Vietnam War to report on Vang Pao's connection to the heroin trade. None of these concerns had anything to do with the fact she was a "conservative." They had to do with my concern that she was an unethical journalist. (Yes,the Brawler realizes Murphy may be talking about other "liberals."
Murphy asks readers whether he should cross her off his list. I'm suspecting he's already made a decision.
Unlike Flynn, she offered no apologies for the liaison, though she said she has "addressed the relationship with those who need to know the details." She is married to former Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher, an unsuccessful candidate for attorney general in 2006.
Overall, the tone of Flynn's statement was contrite, whereas McBride's was combative.
McBride is trying to cover her journalistic ethics bonafides by maintaining that the story was written and published before the affair began. So how could the affair have tainted her coverage? So how can Jessica be unethical?
Now, having feelings for Flynn as she wrote the story surely isn't an ethical violation. If signals were being sent and received of the possibility of a future relationship, that's a different matter.
And while Jessica says she only met with and interviewed Flynn once, that doesn't preclude communication by phone or email that may have encouraged such a future relatonship. Indeed, in an embarrassing email from Flynn that McBride includes in her statement, Flynn says "let's schedule that coffee!" (Jessica doesn't do Ed Flynn any favors in disclosing that email.) The note suggests some previous communication with the intent of a future meeting.
But all that's parsing. The real reason that Jessica fails as an ethical journalist is found in these lines from her statement:
"At the time of the Brocach's meeting in May," her statement says, "I was an academic who no longer covered Flynn and would not ever do so again."
Jessica can't say categorically that she never again would have covered Flynn (she won't now, obviously) or cover someone whose interests conflicted with Flynn's. Indeed, given the prominence of her Milwaukee Magazine piece, she would be seen as an expert on all things Flynn.
As Charlie Sykes noted on his show, if you're covering the circus you don't blank the elephants. That's a fairly clear rule that one would expect a journalism teacher to know.
When the Brawler read Jessica McBride's profile of Ed Flynn, it reminded him of something.
Then he remembered what it was: A 14-year-old profile of Paul Bucher. By one Jessica McBride. Headline: "Oswald prosecutor has reputation of being aggressive, hardworking." (Headline for the Milwaukee Magazine piece: The Cop Who Can't Stop.)
From the 5/29/95 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Waukesha Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher does not want his career defined by the James and Theodore Oswald case. For the time being, he has no choice. 'Bucher's face has been on the nightly news, day in and day out since James Oswald's trial on murder and bank robbery charges began April 24. More often than not, the sound bites show the defendant calling Bucher names pencil-necked geek, "Adolf" Bucher, clown.
Sometimes Bucher responds with a sharp retort or writes a message in large letters on his personal computer screen outside the jury's view. "I am not a pencil neck," he'll write, showing a sly humor under his serious demeanor.
Sometimes, he says nothing or simply smiles, because this is something he's been living with for more than a year.
It is 'Bucher's aggressive, take-no-hostages (huh? I always thought it was take-no-prisoners--BCB)prosecutorial style that has raisedOswald'ss ire. In that way, this case is no different from Bucher's others.
Intense, intelligent, tenacious, aggressive those are the words that pop up again and again when you ask people about him.
Bucher is 39; a small man with glasses, a young face, neatly trimmed hair. He is always busy, brimming with energy, driven, on the move. (From the Milwaukee Magazine piece: "Flynn is also a compelling physical presence: tall, iron-haired, fit (he once rode a bicycle 233 miles) and energetic. He has what one observer calls “command bearing.” " I guess they both have the energy thing.)
Some say he is the highest- profile district attorney the county has ever had, a position he has held since 1988 (Wow! The highest-profile district attorney evah in Waukesha County!).
Then, some ruminating about his destiny:
Just how highly Bucher is regarded in many circles is clear from predictions about his future.
"I would see Paul Bucher running for the position of attorney general in the state of Wisconsin after his family gets a little older," said Don Taylor, longtime chairman of the county's Republican Party. Bucher is first vice chairman of the party.
After that, Taylor says, a governorship.
"I think he's got that kind of ambition and that capability," he said.
He loves his job and said that he does not anticipate leaving it anytime soon, although he admits higher ambitions. He said he knew he could not continue to do this forever, because he had watched the prosecutorial field change, become "more taxing" with more violent crime, higher costs.
He said that he can't remember the last time he worked less than a 10-hour day.
Then there's stuff about what a great guy he is, how he has a heart of gold, how he has the courtroom demeanor of "a sledgehammer." In short, the content of the story may be different but the form and trajectory are similar. I suppose you could call this a "media template."
Questions still linger about Flynn’s past. And his commitment to Milwaukee. The Music Man always left town – until he fell in love. More than one year after taking the job, Flynn’s wife still lives in Virginia, while he lives alone in a Downtown condo. Could he finally settle down here?
Milwaukee Lieutenant of Detectives John Hagen loves the new chief, but has no doubt Flynn’s star shines too brightly for a long marriage to Milwaukee. “It’s like Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie,” Hagen says. “Eventually, she leaves him, and is anyone really surprised? I mean, she’s Angelina Jolie and he’s Billy Bob Thornton.”
Something like that.
Making it more bizarre, Jessica quotes Flynn's wife and son at length. Including this bit:
Besides, she says, noting the 12-hour days he keeps, “I’d just get mad at him anyway.” On some weekends when she comes to Milwaukee to visit, her husband ends up going into work part of the time.
Just in: He actually uses the word magnitude in a rather unfortunate context:
But will that be enough to keep him here? “I want to be wanted back,” Flynn says. “I’ve been looking my whole life for a challenge of this magnitude. The stars all aligned here.”
Just in: Here's Dan Bice's story, including tales of how she was yanked from covering Paul Bucher while covering him for the Journal when it was revealed they were dating. Sordid.
McBride has taught ethics as part of her journalism classes at UWM. The Society of Professional Journalists' code of ethics says reporters should "remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility."
Paul Brewer, the head of UWM's Journalism and Mass Communications Department, declined to comment on the situation, saying he knew nothing about it.
"Perceived you instantly - knew you were a good person who does things for the right reason," reads one signed Jessica. "As a result, I began to struggle with the story - having to give time to vitriolic baseless attacks."
For those of you young uns out there, Jessica's metier was vitriolic, baseless attacks.
Just in: In the Waukesha Freeman, Jessica denounces collection of traffic stop data, says give cops a break:
I don’t want police having to second-guess whether their stops will result in them being unfairly called racists. I just want them to get violent offenders, who prey on communities, off the streets. I want them to use their law enforcement judgment about stops. I don’t want to deter good police instinct.
Just in: Jessica sends Charlie and Jeff an email saying the affair didn't start until May, after the story was written and published.
And certainly not a supporter of tort reform. Writes Laurel Walker (man, Jessica, you should have been nicer to her!) in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
A campaign event at a West Bend hotel where Bucher's wife, Jessica McBride, was speaking turned ugly when their toddler daughter was seriously burned on a lobby fireplace.
In the resulting lawsuit the couple filed against the hotel and its insurer, those defendants have blamed someone else for inadequately supervising the child - Jennifer Dorow, a former assistant district attorney in Bucher's office who's seeking the governor's appointment as a Waukesha County judge.
Bucher, McBride and their child, Anne Bucher, filed the lawsuit in February against Clairemont Inn & Meeting Center owner WBHG of West Bend and its insurer, West Bend Mutual Insurance Co. The suit seeks an unspecified sum of money to compensate the child for her injuries and her parents for their emotional distress.
I'm fairly certain a review of Jessica's archives would reveal attacks on "overprotective" parents and trial lawyers. Oh, that's right: she took down her blog.
It's 2008 and an election year. That means the full force of the Milwaukee's Stupider Media -- the bloggers, the columnists, the yakkers -- are going to be upon you.
Here's a handy A-Z guide on what you can expect to hear from them. Because to Milwaukee's right wing, words mean what they want them to mean!
A is for affirmative action. V. bad -- except when it gets Patrick McIlheran a job as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's conservative columnist!
B is for Bush Derangement Syndrome. A condition marked by the belief that George Bush is a good, if not great president,when nearly 7o percent of the country disapproves of the job he's doing. In extreme cases, sufferers will suggest that it's liberals who actually are alienated from America.
C is for Catholic. Against abortion and in favor of vouchers. As for following the Vatican's opposition to the war and support for labor and liberal economic social policies and dialogue with Islamic peoples (including Iran) ... not so much. You can adhere to the Vatican's opposition to the death penalty so long as you mention that (quietly) only once a year.
D is for Democrats. See N is for Nazis.
E is for Evangelicals. S0 long as they mind their place -- dutifully voting for establishment Republicans -- they're fine. Should they try to push one of their own as a presidentail candidate -- Mike Huckabee -- well, that's just unseemly.
F is for France. Because France was right about this whole Iraq War/occupation not being a good idea, they deserve to have abuse heaped upon them. (Neglect to mention that French troops actually are in Afghanistan.) Boycott all things French, including words (laissez faire doesn't count).
G is for Government. Governments that seek to protect the environment, protect workers and administer health care are big bad nannygestapo states. Governments that engage in illegal surveillance of its citizenry, mislead their people into a war and never-ending occupation of another country and actively seek to push people off the voting rolls are called limited governments.
H is for humor. Retard jokes? Hilarious! Irony? That's hard!
I is for Iraq. As long as we stay there, we're winning. No matter how many people (our own and others) are killed or wounded, no matter how many hundreds of billions go down the drain, no matter how much it exacerbates regional tensions or inspires hatred of the US, we're winning. What are we trying to accomplish? We'll tell you that later!
J is for journalism. "The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is. [For] to a degree, people read the press to inform themselves -- and the better the teacher, the better the student body." Warren Buffet said that. It's unclear whether he knew Jessica McBride teaches journalism at UW-M.
K is for Ku Klux Klan. A white supremacist group. A member of this group might call a group of Latinos "chihuahuas" (particularly if it was a bunch of women and kids) and inform them they should learn English or leave -- as did a prominent Wisconsin right wing blogger.
N is for Nazis. The political party that, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, led Germany from 1933 to 1945. It was responsible for the bloodiest war in Europe's history and its rein of terror was marked by the Holocaust, the deliberate extermination of six million Jews and many more others deemed as "unfit." Because liberals (i.e. Democrats) see an activist role for government, this puts them on a continuum with the Nazi Party.
O is for Once Upon a Time. A fictitious past that conservatives frequently hark back to in advancing arguments. For example, Owen Robinson believes that in "once upon a time" people grew old with dignity -- and without the indignity of the welfare state. The fact is, of course, that until big gummint came along, old age mean impoverishment for most working people. History is hard!
P is for Pinochet, Augusto. Chilean general who ousted the democratically elected Salvador Allende in a military coup in 1973 and ruled the country until 1990. Even though he was a dictator whose regime killed thousands of people (including the American Ronni Moffitt, who, along with the actual target Orlando Letelier, who was killed in a car bomb assassination in Washington DC in 1976), some righties think he's OK -- or at least his sins are mitigated -- because he instituted a variety of "free market" reforms. The fact that his economic policies proved disastrous and were often reversed is seldom noted.
Q is for quicheoise. A term of opprobrium for Madison lefties that was invoked by Charlie Sykes in a recent column. The coinage earned him all sorts of huzzahs from other right wing bloggers. Obviously -- as with virtually all other bon mots or insights made by this man -- he lifted it. Nothing necessarily wrong with that. But the Brawler wonders where Sykes get the stones to questions some peoples' manliness when he admitted recently that he was incapable of shoveling out his driveway so his car would get through. Charlie, it's not the length of your driveway that matters -- a real man can always carve a path through the snow!
R is for Robinson, Owen. Proprietor of the rightwing blog Boots and Sabers. He doesn't know much about history. He thinks the only things Justice Louis Butler has to run on are his incumbency and his race. He booted off a commenter over dubious charges of sockpuppetry. He posted a retard joke on his blog and said it was OK because his mom had been a special ed teacher. So you can see why he's the keynote speaker for Green Lake County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner on March 2! See also here and here.
S is for Sykes, Charlie. The latest issue of Milwaukee Magazine summed it up nicely with some quotes from yesteryear. "Syked Out:“Away from his professional cronies … his books and his daily blows against the status quo, [WTMJ-AM radio host Charlie] Sykes is an isolated man.” (July 2000). “A man of immense talent and ambitions, yet unsure what to do next in life, a man who has gained the respect and fear of the power elite while failing to win the long-term loyalty of even a single friend.” (h/t Whallah!) The Brawler would add that the man seems to get only pettier -- and lazier (want to know what Chuck's going to talk about tomorrow? read conservative blogs the night before) -- with the passage of time.
T is for T-Shirt. Few things exercise Patrick McIlheran more than kids wearing Che T-shirts. Paddy: Don't worry! You can get a Pinochet t-shirt if you want!
U is for urban. Adj. Scary.
V is for voter fraud. There's never been any evidence of organized voter fraud in Milwaukee (it never had the sort of machine that would drive such abuse, for one, at least in the Twentieth Century), but that won't stop the state GOP and its fellow travelers from raising this charge in election cycle after election cycle -- or advocating Voter ID to address an illusory problem. Meanwhile, it will never occur to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to investigate GOP-instigated voter suppression.
W is for Walker, Scott. The Milwaukee County executive whose strongest base of supprt may be with right wing pundits who live outside Milwaukee County. Ma Brawler, meanwhile, thinks he's a weasel.
X is for Xoff. A prominent member of a group known to the right wing as the "hate left." The evidence of this group's hate? Its tireless effort to poke holes in the bogus arguments of the right. (However, equating Muslims with Nazis is not hate -- it's just freedom of expression!)
Y is for yacht. Yacht is one of many many words that F. Scott Fitzgerald could not spell. Right-wing blogger and attorney Rick Esenberg is known to make a spelling mistake two, misspelling Favre -- twice! -- in one recent post. According to the formidable logic typical of Jessica McBride (and, frankly, not a few other denizens of Milwaukee's right), this means Rick Esenberg wrote The Great Gatsby.
Z is for Ziegler, Annette. Ethics -- indeed, professionalism -- are for suckers!
(This column, particularly the intro, was "inspired" in part by a recent Patrick McIlerhan column, addressed by Mike Plaisted here.)