Friday, June 19, 2009

Ed Flynn and Jessica McBride

TMJ4 led off its 10:00 PM newscast last night with what Mike Jacobs called "blockbuster news."

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn admitted having an affair. Flynn, a married man, had an affair with Jessica McBride, "a prominent local journalist." She's married to former Waukesha County D.A. Paul Bucher.

Jacobs said that McBride wrote a "favorable article about the chief in the May edition of Milwaukee Magazine."

Read McBride's article, "The Cop Who Can't Stop," here.

TMJ4 brought in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigative columnist Dan Bice to discuss the "blockbuster news" live.

Carole Meekins said that Bice "will break this story in tomorrow morning's paper." Actually, I think he broke it on TV.

Bice sounded like a reporter for The National Enquirer.

TMJ4 continued with Team Coverage.

Team coverage?

Good grief.

Charles Benson covered reaction to Flynn's affair, including Mayor Tom Barrett's response. Barrett has "talked to Chief Flynn about the affair and is standing by the chief."

Benson also relayed a statement from police union president John Balcerzak.

Jacobs breathlessly concluded the over 4 minutes of the newscast devoted to the affair with this:

Again, tonight's big story: Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn admits to having an affair. And for more information, don't miss Dan Bice's story in tomorrow's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, also JS Online.

Here's the TMJ4 video:



I think it's pretty sleazy for TMJ4 to hype Bice's "exclusive" in the Journal Sentinel. I think it's rather sleazy of Bice to hawk his tabloid exclusive.

Is this TMJ or TMZ?

I don't see the affair as "blockbuster news." It might be considered "blockbuster" for a tabloid, but I don't see how this is BIG news for the community.

Obviously, committing adultery is not a commendable act. Betraying one's spouse and family speaks to one's character.

I'm not diminishing the importance of character, especially when it concerns a person in a position of authority like the police chief.

But this is a personal matter.

This affair can't be compared to other sex scandals involving prominent public figures.

For instance, former mayor John Norquist's affair also involved charges of sexual harassment.

Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct with Monica Lewinsky was an issue because it involved lying under oath and obstruction of justice by the president of the United States.

The sex scandal that drove Eliot Spitzer out of office involved a prostitute.

It doesn't appear that the affair between Flynn and McBride had any factors like those that would make it of importance to the public.

Nonetheless, TMJ4 and Bice consider it to be "blockbuster news."

Why? Because this sort of drama draws an audience?

From Dan Bice, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

When journalist Jessica McBride penned a glowing, 5,400-word profile of Police Chief Edward A. Flynn for Milwaukee Magazine earlier this year, many in the Milwaukee Police Department jokingly dismissed it as a love letter to the chief.

Little did they know.

Sometime earlier this year, Flynn and McBride struck up a romantic relationship.

Asked about the affair, the 61-year-old chief issued a statement Thursday acknowledging his indiscretion - without mentioning McBride, 39, by name.

"I have done my wife and family a great wrong, and I profoundly regret the hurt I have inflicted on them and others affected by my conduct," Flynn wrote. "I accept the personal and public consequences of my private behavior. I have damaged my public reputation and violated the trust and love of my family."

McBride - a journalism lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a former Journal Sentinel reporter - has refused to respond to numerous messages about the liaison. McBride has been a prominent figure in the community, serving as a talk-show host and political blogger.

I don't like Bice's smarmy handling of this story.

Bice pins the Scarlet Letter on McBride. He's outed Flynn as an adulterer.

Is Bice's prurient work done here?

Of course not. There's so much more.

...No Quarter first became aware of Flynn's relationship with McBride this month when someone anonymously sent a letter and e-mails purportedly written by the pair to one another.

"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."

The affair may violate a basic tenet of journalism, particularly if, as the exchanges suggest, the two became involved while McBride was working on the lengthy article for the magazine's May issue. Reporters are strictly forbidden from writing about individuals with whom they have strong personal ties.

"It taints the nature of the piece," said Jeffrey Seglin, a national journalism ethics expert from Boston.

Gee, thanks for sharing that e-mail with us, Dan.

And thanks for pointing out McBride's possible violation of a "basic tenet of journalism."

Good work getting that comment from a "national journalism ethics expert" to support your accusation.

Now that's real journalism.

McBride, who worked at the Journal Sentinel full time from 1994 to 2004, supervises an online student publication that writes regularly about the Milwaukee Police Department.

Another leading ethicist, Rushworth Kidder, agreed with Seglin but said the bigger issue has to do with Flynn.

"The nature of a police chief's job, with all due respect to the medical profession, is not like being a dentist or dermatologist, where you can go home and have your weekends to yourself," said Kidder, founder of the Institute for Global Ethics. "It's 24-7.

"What are we to make of the sense of integrity of an individual who has got to be treading carefully with a bunch of things he would prefer to hide on one hand and yet on the other side is being asked to be completely open and honest and to set the model for integrity for others?"

In his statement, Flynn, who came to Milwaukee in January 2008, said he has talked with those closest to him about the affair.

"The people in my personal and professional life who needed to know the painful truth, know it and I have apologized to them," he wrote. "This is a personal matter that occurred in my private, off-duty time. I will continue to devote myself to making Milwaukee a better place.

"I hope that the people of this city who so warmly welcomed me can eventually forgive me."

Flynn issued the statement after he and McBride spent the better part of two weeks dodging questions.

Last week, police officials barred No Quarter from attending a news conference for fear the chief might be asked about McBride. After a press event this week, the chief twice stopped and stared in silence when asked if he could talk about the matter. His press aide had been given a series of questions about the relationship this month.

Bice really rips Flynn on the integrity issue.

I guess this is payback for being barred from Flynn's news conference and Flynn failing to comment about the affair when asked.

McBride has remained mum. She did not return calls, e-mails to her personal account, or notes sent to her via Facebook. But her husband, former Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher, has talked privately about the relationship with others. Bucher, who ran unsuccessfully for state attorney general in 2006, spoke briefly to No Quarter about the matter, saying it was a personal issue.

Bice clearly is struggling to make the case that this is more than a personal issue.

I suppose he needs to do that to justify the pain and embarrassment his revelations are sure to bring to the spouses and children of Flynn and McBride.

...No Quarter has not yet determined the anonymous source of the letter and e-mails. Until Flynn released his apology, neither party would answer phone calls, face-to-face interview requests or written questions. Details in the letter and e-mails match recent events in their lives, including McBride's trip to Paris, Flynn's testimony before a U.S. Senate committee and the recent birth of his grandchild. The letter is a four-page, handwritten note addressed "Dear Ed" and signed Jessica.

Did Bice wonder about the anonymous source, that individual's motivation for sharing the letter and e-mails?

How did the individual access this personal information anyway?

Did the anonymous source obtain it legally? Does Bice care?

Certainly, Bice's anonymous source is not someone interested in sparing Flynn or McBride humiliation. It could be someone with an interest in damaging the standing of Flynn's authority in the community. If so, Bice is playing the willing stooge.

Bice goes on to quote from McBride's Milwaukee Magazine article on Flynn.

The story, entitled "The Cop Who Can't Stop," referred to Flynn as a "bold choice." McBride talked up his strong résumé, energy and fitness, edgy sense of humor and success at MPD's helm. He is referred to in the story as "blunt yet charming."

"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,' " McBride wrote of the chief. "But was he too good to be true?"

The handwritten note discussed her writing process.

"Just felt a little protective. Knew I didn't want to do you wrong," the letter says.

It says the two became involved after an interview at Brocach Irish Pub and Restaurant on Water St.

"I honestly had myself almost convinced that we were going to talk about the police department at (Brocach) that night!" it says. "Now that sounds so naïve. But something special happened between us that night; I will always cherish it. A complete meeting on all levels - mind, body, heart that I have never experienced. You completed me that night."

Splashing this is real "blockbuster" stuff, isn't it? Bice's agenda is so transparent.

Sorry, but I can't get disturbed about possible journalistic ethics violations in McBride's profile of Flynn.

Who cares?

It's not a hard news piece.

If Bice wants to uncover ethical problems in local journalism he should investigate TMJ4's "Dirty Dining." I guess he'd have a conflict of interest with that.

Throughout Bice's EXCLUSIVE, he stresses ethics. McBride taught ethics in her journalism classes at UWM. Although he doesn't come out and say it, Bice is charging her with hypocrisy.

Bice adds that he talked with Paul Brewer, head of UWM's Journalism and Mass Communications Department. Bice informs us that he wasn't aware of the relationship. He is now.

Apparently, Bice has been very busy lately, sharing his story, spreading the word, scorching the earth.

...Several of the e-mails suggest that both were love-struck.

Bice has missed his calling. He really should write for The Enquirer.

Bice goes on to give some juicy quotes. ENOUGH! The details he provides are totally unnecessary. It's lurid, tabloid crap.

Bice blathers about integrity and ethics.

Does he consider himself to be beyond reproach in that area? He shouldn't.

I think this is a hit piece, plain and simple. It's unnecessarily detailed. Bice coaxes the reader to conclude that this very personal matter is of great significance to the community and an important public issue.

Of course, it's of tremendous significance to Flynn and his family, and McBride and her family.

Thanks to Bice, their families won't have the luxury of dealing with the betrayal of the affair privately. Their personal pain is now public record. That has to add to their anguish.

Bottom line: Flynn owned up to his behavior and made a fitting apology. That should be the end of it. I don't think this will impact his ability to serve as police chief.

The affair was a personal failing for both Flynn and McBride. They'll suffer the consequences in their personal lives, but hopefully not in their professional lives.

Their relationships with their spouses and children and everyone they know are altered. Nothing can change that.

Flynn is a flawed man, and McBride is a flawed woman. That comes with the territory of being human.

As for Bice, I think he should have major regrets as well.

________________

UPDATE: McBride Issues Statement on Affair

I think Bice may need to issue a statement, too. It appears that he has to make some retractions. His pontificating on ethics in journalism seems more than a bit awkward now.

________________

UPDATE, June 22, 2009: The McBride Affair

And how the Journal Sentinel got it dead wrong.

________________

UPDATE, June 27, 2009: Murphy, McBride, and Bice

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

C'mon. Seriously? Chief Flynn is a man who has (supposedly) brought a values based system to the MPD and here he violates one of the most fundamental of those values - the sanctity of marriage. Everyone makes mistakes, but what must also be realized is that some mistakes cannot go without impunity - especially when the violator holds such a powerful position. The Mayor should be ashamed also. He brought this snake oil salesman and his consulting cronies to our city and now (for clearly political reasons) is "standing by his police chief". Rubbish. It's high time for our city to be lead by leaders with VALUES and high moral standards rather than the silver-tounged MANAGERS that we currently possess.

Anonymous said...

Chief Flynn really needs to consider leaving. While it's true that he possesses some talents he obviously lacks the moral courage to simply do the right thing. Too bad. He seemed to hold so much promise. Yet slowly, some insiders have been seeing what most do not - and that is an egotistical police manager (not leader) who has already clearly surrounded himself with YES people (as evidenced by a majority of his recommended promoted members) and quite frankly, he has comprised his entire office of women (I've been on his floor at the police headquarters). I'm sure many of us can't wait to see what our hard earned money will buy in terms of his in-coming (and lovely) Chief of Staff. I'm sure it's a necessity that she be a highly paid (new) city employee even in these times of (existing) employee furloughs. It's time for us citizens of Milwaukee to wake up and hold our elected (and appointed/annointed) officials accountable!

Anonymous said...

Well, as a tax paying citizen and concerned member of this community I certainly hope that our city's Fire & Police Commission pay much closer attention now and in the future to who they are told to hire as Chiefs (Fire and Police) and possibly even more importantly to whom they approve for promotion to positions of higher authority within those departments - as we will be "stuck" with those employees far longer than any Chief. Best of luck Commissioners!

Mary said...

Flynn has reduced crime in Milwaukee. His initiatives have produced results.

It's not as if he violated the law or abused his position or accepted bribes, etc.

He cheated on his wife. He disrespected the mother of his children. That's a serious mistake. He'll have to deal with that and live with the consequences.

However, to treat this as some sort of major public scandal with serious implications for the community is ridiculous.

In terms of "VALUES," I think Flynn's apology speaks volumes. It's not wishy washy. He takes responsibility.

Having a value system doesn't mean one is perfect. By definition, we aren't perfect beings.

Milwaukee needs leaders who can get results. Flynn is getting results. It would not be in Milwaukee's best interest to derail what Flynn has achieved.

Wisconsin Statute 944.16 said...

"It's not as if he violated the law."

Yes he did. They both did.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Mary having sex with a married person or having sex with a person, not your spouse, are both still Class 1 Felonies in Wisconsin. Flynn has committed a crime.

Anonymous said...

It's not as if he broke a law?

Umm...

http://nxt.legis.state.wi.us/nxt/gateway.dll?f=templates&fn=default.htm&d=stats&jd=944.16

Class 1 Felony.

You and I might agree that the law is b.s., but it is breaking the law. And, I'm sorry, when it's the police chief, and someone who is a "celebrity" (radio personality/blogger/professor), it IS news...

Mary said...

Give me a break.

It's also illegal in Wisconsin to appear in public during daylight if you look offensive.

It's illegal for a man to cut a woman's hair.

Sure, Wis. Stat. s. 944.16 is still on the books, but Wisconsin residents aren't prosecuted for the "crime" of adultery.

Do a LexisNexis search. How many times have Wisconsinites been charged and/or convicted under that statute recently?

What do you suggest? Should we start enforcing the statute? Put those "criminals" behind bars?

Obviously, you have an axe to grind.

The fact that you raise that statute is very revealing.

Anonymous said...

I think the main issue that challenges the cheif's credibility is not that he had an affair - it's WHO he had the affair with. The woman is a bigoted, loud mouthed psycho who clearly needs to be medicated.

Mary said...

Do you go to Widener, "anonymous"?

I think there's a strong possibility, "anonymous."

In any case, way to add to a discussion! Your baseless attacks damage YOUR credibility.

Good grief.

Anonymous said...

Let's please all remember that one "anonymous" may not be the other "anonymous". I leave this post and am the original "anonymous from the first 3 posts of the day... Thank-you.

Mary said...

How lame!

If you're going to post as "anonymous," expect confusion.

FreeApril said...

This is a scandal? Two consenting adults, a scandal, extramarital affairs, happen everyday/ What's scandalous, is the State of Wisconsin assisting in the cover up of a Ugandan rapist (NON consensual sex, and the relationship he has with his attorney a Legal Action of Wisconsin ( they revive FEDERAL grants to serve the poor,) staff member, the bribes taking by a racist/sexist-corrupt Milwaukee judge, does Bice have the balls to cover that story, now that's scandalous. A rape and domestic violence victim jailed for fighting back, police breaking her baby bones, paralyzing her -pepper-spraying her and her baby, that's scan-doulus!!!!!!

Theresa said...

First, trying to argue that this is not an issue that affects the greater Milwaukee community is rot. The Milwaukee Chief of Police is in charge of a significant portion of the public service to our community. I believe he obtained his job based not only on his results, but also on his standing among his peers and his character. He had an affair and his standing among his peers and his character are called into question. He had an affair and his marriage will be on the rocks for awhile, which will more than likely have a significant affect on his ability to do his job. How many times have we seen people leave their positions in order to take care of personal issues? Don't tell me this is not a significant issue for the Milwaukee Community.
Second, your blog is all about "shoot the messenger". Nice. You can't fight the truth, so you discount the truth and undermine the messenger. Here's more breaking news: the truth is still out there.
Third, just because a law is not enforced, i.e., adultery, does not mean it is any less a crime. There is a legal precept entitled "prosecutorial discretion" (just ask Paul Bucher..., or not) such that a prosecutor may or may not charge persons with crimes he does not believe he can prove.
Fourth, trying to differentiate the McBride-Flynn affair from those of Bill Clinton, John Norquist and Elliot Spitzer is just sad on so many levels, primarily because you left out Henry Hyde, John Ensign, John McCain, Rudolph Giuliani, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Richard Melon Scaife, Dick Morris, Tom DeLay, et al.
Nice try.

Mary said...

If you don't work for the Journal Sentinel or TMJ4, you should.

1. This will be an extremely significant event for Milwaukee if people bent on running Flynn out of the city succeed.

2. This is not a "shoot the messenger" post. Did you miss the things I said about Flynn and McBride's failings?

3. You and your cohorts really need to let go of the "adultery is a felony" talking point. Really.

4. I clearly spelled out how the Norquist, Clinton, and Spitzer cases differ from this one. Sorry I didn't cite every case of infidelity by every public figure. The post would get a little too long.

Anonymous said...

I want his badge and he better face crminal charges. How do we enforce that FELONY he commited. If these laws are on the books the police better follow them.

Theresa said...

1. This will be an extremely significant event for Milwaukee if people bent on running Flynn out of the city succeed.

It's already a significant event. One of our community leaders has seriously damaged his own credibility. Unless you're willing to concede that community leaders can lead their personal lives on a level below that of their professional lives, i.e., a double standard for private versus public behaviour, then the issue is significant. And who said anything about running Flynn out of town? I thought we were discussing the implications of Flynn's affair? Is there a sore spot here? I certainly don't think Flynn should lose his job over this.

2. This is not a "shoot the messenger" post. Did you miss the things I said about Flynn and McBride's failings?

I did not miss them. Conceding the failings / flaws of McBride / Flynn were lost in your own "hit job" on Bice. I must have gotten a little bleary-eyed after the following:
"Bice sounded like a reporter for The National Enquirer."
"I think it's pretty sleazy for TMJ4 to hype Bice's "exclusive" in the Journal Sentinel. I think it's rather sleazy of Bice to hawk his tabloid exclusive."
...comments about character / pain for family...
"I don't like Bice's smarmy handling of this story."
"Bice pins the Scarlet Letter on McBride. He's outed Flynn as an adulterer."
"Is Bice's prurient work done here?"
"Bice has missed his calling. He really should write for The Enquirer."
"Bice goes on to give some juicy quotes. ENOUGH! The details he provides are totally unnecessary. It's lurid, tabloid crap."
...some comments about 'real journalism'...
"Bice really rips Flynn on the integrity issue.
I guess this is payback for being barred from Flynn's news conference and Flynn failing to comment about the affair when asked."
...some comments about Bice trying to make this a big story...
"I suppose he needs to do that to justify the pain and embarrassment his revelations are sure to bring to the spouses and children of Flynn and McBride."
...some comments about Bice's 's anonymous source...
"If so, Bice is playing the willing stooge."
"I think this is a hit piece, plain and simple. It's unnecessarily detailed. Bice coaxes the reader to conclude that this very personal matter is of great significance to the community and an important public issue."
...some comments about Flynn'/s/McBride's personal failings...
Clearly, you spent a whole lot of time and effort knocking down Bice and his story, questioning Bice's motives, and only four to five sentences pointing out Flynn / McBride's failings.

3. You and your cohorts really need to let go of the "adultery is a felony" talking point. Really.

Why? This point was made in response to your argument that Flynn has not violated the law. He has, but it, like so many other felonies / misdemeanors, will more than likely not be prosecuted. Nor do I believe it should.

4. I clearly spelled out how the Norquist, Clinton, and Spitzer cases differ from this one. [Yes, you did.] Sorry I didn't cite every case of infidelity by every public figure. [No, only the prominent Democrats.] The post would get a little too long. [Or fair and balanced, God forbid.]

Again, nice try.

Mary said...

Good grief.

I stand by my original post and my subsequent comments.

Case closed.

Theresa said...

Well said, as I'm sure Dan Bice feels exactly the same way.

Anonymous said...

So what is this all about? that the WIS. ststs. 944.16 is ONLY for figure heads? My husband has been having an affair with a married women for a year a half now..It's even on court record where she has admitted her affair with [ her husband was siiting behind her at the hearing]....The judge in the case said it wasn't Illeagl to have an affair... There is not a police force, lawyer or judge that will do a thing about it..And it insulting to hear 'It not against the lsw'... Why did you waste the time and paper to write this law if you refuse to enforce it??