Saturday, June 27, 2009

Murphy, McBride, and Bice

On Monday, Bruce Murphy, editor of Milwaukee Magazine, wrote a piece online defending Jessica McBride's integrity as a journalist. Last week, she came under attack by Dan Bice and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for the profile she wrote about Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn. Murphy wrote that the JS got it "dead wrong."

On Friday, Murphy posted another piece. He wimped out on his criticism of Bice and the JS. He said he was wrong, that he had to temper his criticism. He had come down too hard.

Murphy now believes that poor Bice and the JS were in an impossible situation.

The reality is that they were in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position: They would be criticized if they ran the story or if they didn’t.

I don't get that.

I didn't criticize them for running the story. It's how they ran it. It was a sloppy hit piece.

Murphy documented that. And even though he now admits that at first he did not ask McBride to hand over all the e-mails between her and Police Chief Ed Flynn, he acknowledges that when he did eventually see all that she had, they did confirm McBride's article was complete before the affair began.

Nonetheless, Murphy claims to have been taken aback. Why?

Murphy writes:

JS Managing Editor George Stanley told Pundit Nation blogger Michael Mathias that the paper had reason to believe [WTMJ reporter Charles] Benson was going after the McBride/Flynn story. The implication is that this is what pushed them to publish. If so, this might explain why the paper rushed the story out before checking the public e-mails of Flynn to establish when the affair actually began.

What does Benson's involvement have to do with anything? That's no excuse for Bice's sloppy journalism.

The issue is whether McBride followed ethical standards in reporting for Milwaukee Magazine.

Bice wanted to scoop Benson and he felt pressured to move before he had done a thorough job of reporting.

I don't see how that puts what Bice wrote in a better light.

This isn't about the story of the affair between Flynn and McBride. It's about whether McBride compromised her journalistic ethics writing the profile on Flynn.

Nothing Murphy says in his retraction/apology/wimp out relates to Bice's charges of an ethical conflict on the part of McBride.

I think Murphy is trying to placate the many people he pissed off, "the blizzard of comments and e-mail that came [his] way."

Where is Murphy's spine?

But at this point, the precise details hardly matter. In the eyes of the public, McBride has compromised herself – and this magazine.

That's crap. Of course, the precise details matter.

I think Murphy's comment about details calls his journalistic integrity into question.

Details don't matter? The truth doesn't matter? What is that?

Is Murphy in the business of journalism or public opinion polling?

He's pounding another nail in the coffin of journalism when he says "the precise details hardly matter."

This is nuts.

Here's the reality: A whole bunch of people and parties -- Bice, Murphy, TMJ4, the JS -- exploited an affair and exaggerated its impact for their own gain.

As Murphy wrote on Monday, "sex sells."


krshorewood said...

Guess exaggeration happens to exaggerators like McBride. Live by the sword. Die by the sword.

Mary said...

What are you talking about?