Friday, June 19, 2009

My Two Cents on the Flynn-McBride Saga

By Lisa Kaiser
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OK, I’ll go there.

I’ve been as entertained as everyone else by the revelations that MPD Chief Ed Flynn and right-wing pundit/journalism and ethics instructor/“journalist” Jessica McBride Bucher got too close around the time she was writing a gushing article about him for Milwaukee Magazine. The Mil Mag article was cringe-worthy before these revelations; now, it’s a punchline. She’s denying that the affair started while she was working on the piece (sorry—poor choice of words) but the love-struck mash notes obtained by Bice show that something was going on while she was writing it—in word, if not deed. (And perhaps only in her mind.)

Flynn has the backing of the mayor and other powers-that-be and he’ll probably come out of this embarrassed but OK. Professionally, that is. What happens in his personal life is his issue.

Then there’s McBride. Her sordid past has been rehashed elsewhere so you can dig it up yourself. She had her pal Charlie Sykes read her explanation (didn’t seem like an apology) on the air, but nothing appears on his blog. Or hers, for that matter. I’m sure she’s terrified of the comments. Apparently, she’s claiming that the affair started after she wrote the article. Again, go back to the mash notes—clearly, this alleged journalist lost her objectivity.

Then there’s Mil Mag editor Bruce Murphy. He’s standing by the story—even though he revels in pointing out the missteps of other reporters and editors in town. (Full disclosure: he’s attacked me repeatedly, in my mind unfairly. Shudder to think how he’d cover the Flynn/McBride saga if the article had been printed in the Shepherd, and not his own publication.)

But I’ve got to ask: Shouldn’t Murphy have a better bullshit detector? I can only imagine what the initial draft looked like. Why leave the schoolgirl-crush stuff in the article, which was off-putting even before the affair was exposed? And why did he assign a pro-law-enforcement reporter to a story about the police chief? Did he really expect it to portray Flynn in anything but a glowing light? Isn't he angry that McBride played him? And shouldn’t McBride have taken herself off the assignment after she fell for the chief? (The notes obtained by Bice show that her feelings for Flynn affected her writing.) Or was the article a love letter of sorts to Flynn?

And what about Bice? Should he have reported on the affair in the first place? Most reporters would say yes, just for the buzz. (The hyping of the story in Journal Communications properties is really vulgar, though. And we’re supposed to “trust, trust, TRUST” TMJ4? Their tabloid-like coverage of the story is sickening.) I’m sure the disgraced Mil Mag story is getting a bazillion hits today, so even Murphy is getting a boost from it.

But is it really a legitimate news story? There’s no evidence that Flynn used police or taxpayers resources. Both folks are married with kids. McBride is a public person, as is her husband, who’s been dragged into this mess. Both have a lot of explaining to do with their spouses. (I imagine her saying “Whallah!”) I just wonder if McBride’s freelance check from Mil Mag was worth it.

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