Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Pushes False Narrative, Ignores Key Facts

( | 3/12/2016)

Newspaper  |  3-10-16

Seldom do we encounter blatant attempts by the mainstream media to push a completely false narrative, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently published an article regarding Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley that exceeds the bounds of journalistic integrity.

On March 10, 2016, the Journal Sentinel “reported” that Justice Rebecca Bradley had engaged in an “extramarital affair” with a former business colleague.  

The story further points out that this “fact” was revealed in the context of a family court child placement proceeding wherein then-Attorney Bradley was representing the individual with whom she had previously “had the affair,” and implies that this created an “ethical” problem.  

The story then proceeds to question Governor Walker’s “vetting process,” reminding readers that Justice Bradley was recently in the news due to the revelation that she had written admittedly inappropriate statements decades prior – a fact that had nothing to do with the story being presented.  

The full text of the story can be found here.   

This article presents a great example of how, especially in a highly charged election season, the media will grasp at anything to push a liberal agenda, or in this case, a narrative being pushed by opponents of Justice Bradley.

In this story, the Journal Sentinel attempts to push a narrative that Justice Bradley lacks the character to be a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice.  It does this by portraying her as an adulterer who violates the ethical rules governing lawyers, and reminds readers of prior revelations concerning articles she wrote decades prior in her youth.  

What the Journal Sentinel does not address is why the issue of Justice Bradley having an affair (even assuming this was a fact) has any bearing on her qualifications to serve as Supreme Court Justice.

Furthermore, the Journal Sentinel states that the trial court judge ruled then-Attorney Bradley was committing no ethical violations in representing the individual with whom she had had a romantic relationship, but nonetheless tries to portray the issue as one open to interpretation.  

In other words, the Journal Sentinel is implying in this story that even though the judge found it was wholly appropriate for Rebecca Bradley to represent this individual, she might still have acted unethically, citing “experts” on legal ethics (more on that below).

What is truly telling about the Journal Sentinel’s motivations here is that it completely omitted the fact that Justice Bradley’s ex-husband, Gordon Bradley, told Journal Sentinel reporter, Patrick Marley, that at the time Rebecca Bradley engaged in the relationship with her business colleague, she and Gordon were already separated – their marriage had already come to a de facto end.  

Mr. Gordon has stated he told the Journal Sentinel that he did not consider Justice Bradley’s relationship to be “an affair,” but nonetheless, the Journal Sentinel not only omitted this fact, but reported the complete opposite.  Gordon Bradley has condemned the article, but to date, no correction or clarification has been issued by the Paper.

Lastly, this story provides a great example of bias by source selection.  As briefly mentioned above, the Journal Sentinel propagates a narrative that Justice Bradley somehow violated the ethical rules governing lawyers in Wisconsin.  

Choosing to ignore  Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren’s ruling that Rebecca Bradley violated no ethical rules, the Journal Sentinel cites a law professor from New York University and an Arizona attorney who “focuses on legal ethics issues” to push the narrative that then-Attorney Bradley did not “act wise,” and that her conduct “was troubling.”  

What is troubling is that instead of consulting law professors at Marquette or Wisconsin Law Schools who are experts on the Wisconsin rules of professional responsibility,  the  Journal Sentinel instead chose to rely on lawyers who are not licensed attorneys in Wisconsin and do not teach the Wisconsin rules of professional responsibility.  

In short, the Journal Sentinel props-up wholly unqualified individuals to serve as “experts” on an issue that has already been decided upon by a Wisconsin judge solely to coerce readers into being concerned about a non-existent problem.

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