Listening to Channel 12 reporter Nick Bohr “report” on Scott Walker you would think it was a paid television ad. Bohr not only let Walker get away with deceiving news watchers about the fiscal health of Milwaukee County, but he failed to call Walker to the carpet for the destruction of the infrastructure and overall health of the county. Bohr then proceeded to let Walker take ridiculous and deceptive pot shots at challenger and State Senator Lena Taylor.
Bohr contacted Taylor to get her response while the State Senate was in session. Effectively, if she wanted to answer Bohr’s questions on his schedule, she would have had to leave the floor of the Senate during debates (in other words, not do the job she was elected to do) and work around a reporters schedule.
You’re probably wondering what Bohr was thinking. We all are.
As a citizen journalist, I know that politicians are always going to be self serving and that’s ok — journalists should expect politicians to defend their positions and advocate their agendas. After all, that is what they were elected to do. It is the reporters job to separate out the fact from the rhetoric and report on the facts. The problem with some journalists, and recently Bohr was a shimmering example of this, is that they take what the politician says and report it as fact without ever doing any research.
But what ever happened to looking at all of the facts?
Without doing any in depth research, we know a few things about Milwaukee County that are in the recent new which Bohr should have pressed Walker on had he been doing journalistic due diligence.
Here are just a few questions that Bohr, or any other reporter,
could have expanded on and I’ll premise this by saying, “Executive
Walker, you said that there is a surplus in this years budget yet”…
1) The bus system which used to be the top rated bus system in the nation for farebox recovery has suffered from large fare hikes and route cuts and consequently now has one of the lowest ridership rates in the country despite historically high gas prices.
2) Milwaukee County Parks, once known as a crown jewel of the county, has been allowed to decay as staff that has historically maintained the parks have been cut. Infrastructure continues to fair. How do you reconcile the neglect of the parks with your claims of strong and responsible management of the county?
3) Half of the staff has left the Medical Examiners office whose budget and consequently the salaries of the employees, which you have cut. Autopsies and crime lab backups are a major problem in your County which have resulted in jail overcrowding which in turn leads to increased overtime costs at the jail and House of Corrections. Now after half of the staff is already gone, you’re suggesting increasing the salaries in the Medical Examiners office to make them competitive so the County can keep its needed employees. Isn’t it a bit too late for that?
4) Forced overtime at the House of Corrections is out of control. Employee morale is at an all time low, yet you continue to resist hiring additional correctional officers despite overtime costs which could have paid for additional officers. While it is an election year and it is understandable that a politician is prone to bragging about their accomplishments, how does it make fiscal sense to understaff the HOC especially in light of the young man who recently died of a methadone overdose as an inmate where he clearly got his drugs when he was incarcerated?
Any of these questions could have been posed to Walker. Instead, reporter Nick Bohr and WISN 12 chose to run an ad for Walker, disguised as a report. This clearly calls into question both Bohr and WISN 12’s journalistic integrity.