How evil was Lueders’s attack on Wis. Justice David Prosser?


I first noted the Lueders article in this post, where I excerpted 2 paragraphs and wondered about Lueders’s reference to his sources: “The sources spoke on the condition that they not be named, citing a need to preserve professional relationships.” Lueders said he had “three knowledgeable sources,” and that he had contacted Prosser for a response and that Prosser had said “I have nothing to say about it.”

He repeated this statement after the particulars of the story – including the allegation that there was physical contact between him and Bradley – were described. He did not confirm or deny any part of the reconstructed account.

Later in the day, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel came out with an article that revealed more complexity to the allegations. I wrote about that post last night, noting the account of “a source” who had spoken to “several” of the justices who witnessed the incident (there were “[a]t least five”), and said that Prosser “put his hands around” Bradley’s neck, without “exert[ing] any pressure,” which Bradley “described as a chokehold.”

The Journal Sentinel then cites “another source” that said “that Bradley attacked Prosser.” Here we get the first allegation that Bradely “charged him with fists raised” and that Prosser “put his hands in a defensive posture,” blocking her, resulting in hand-neck contact.

The Journal Sentinel begins a new paragraph with “Another source…” If that is not miswritten, we now have a third source — “another” and then “another” — that’s the second and third source. This third source, like the second source, has Bradley coming at Prosser “with fists up” and Prosser reacting defensively. This source — which I’m seeing as the Sentinel’s third source — confirms the first source in saying that Bradley called it choking at the time. This source also has a Justice (not Prosser) reacting by saying “You were not choked.”

Now, we’ve just reviewed the stories of various unnamed sources, as reported by Lueders and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. What I want to know is: What is the total number of sources? Is it 6? 5? 4? Or is it 3? It could be only 3! That is, 2 of Lueders’s sources could have been the sources who gave the fuller context, with Bradley as the aggressor. What did Lueders know and when did he know it? Did Lueders have the fists-of-fury version of the story and deliberately leave it out? Did he leave it out when he contacted Prosser for a response and recited “the particulars of the story,” the “reconstructed account” that he referred to in his article.

I told you this was going to be a little journalism class. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, will you investigate your own journalism?

Maybe Prosser had “nothing to say about it” because the “reconstructed account” Lueders recited did not contain the allegation that Bradley charged at him with raised fists. Prosser did comment later in the day — a day full of destructive attacks on him, which speculated about the meaning of his absence of comment. Those attacks assumed that Prosser knew the story in the form that would appear in Lueders’s article. But did he? I want to know!

In my last post of the day, commenting on the Journal Sentinel article, I said:

I want to know not only what really happened at the time of the physical contact (if any) between the 2 justices, but also who gave the original story to the press. If Prosser really tried to choke a nonviolent Bradley, he should resign. But if the original account is a trumped-up charge intended to destroy Prosser and obstruct the democratic processes of government in Wisconsin, then whoever sent the report out in that form should be held responsible for what should be recognized as a truly evil attack.

When I wrote that, it did not cross my mind that the “truly evil” person might be Lueders himself. That’s something occurred to me when I woke up this morning and began thinking about the possibility that the total number of unnamed sources was only 3.

Lueders needs to tell us whether or not he knew the Bradley-as-the-aggressor story when he presented his original work of investigative journalism under the name of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. If he knew it, why didn’t he present the whole context at first? And what was in the “reconstructed account” that got Prosser to decline comment? If Lueders didn’t know the alternate version of the story, in which Bradley was the aggressor, why on earth didn’t he know? The story he presented is so weird that any thinking person would demand to know more of the context. Did Lueders keep himself willfully ignorant of the more complicated version of the story, and if he did, why? What kind of journalism is that? Truly evil?

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