Update: AP Still Won't Acknowledge Both Sides of Wis. Supreme Court Judges' Altercation

Given a chance to revise and extend its 9:58 a.m. report (covered this afternoon at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) on the June 13 altercation between Wisconsin Supreme Court Judges David Prosser, Jr. and Ann Walsh Bradley, the Associated Press's 5:29 p.m. version persists in telling its national audience only one side of the story.

Although the fact is that accounts as to who was the aggressor completely differ, the wire service's oddly unbylined story (a 650-word AP item usually has a byline -- it's almost as if someone doesn't want their name on it) will cause its readers, including subscribing news outlets around the country, to believe that the only open question is whether and how hard Prosser choked Bradley. One suspects that AP's "fairness" defense will be the employment of these three words in Paragraph 8: "While accounts differ ..." Sorry guys, that doesn't cut it when the accounts are totally opposite.

Here are excerpts from that AP report (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes):

A member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court's liberal faction has accused a conservative justice of choking her during an argument in her office earlier this month - a charge he denied.

 

Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Justice David Prosser put her in a chokehold during the dispute. She contacted the newspaper late Saturday after Prosser denied rumors about the altercation.

 

"The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold," Bradley told the newspaper.

 

... The argument took place June 13, the day before the court, in a 4-3 decision that included a blistering dissent, ruled that Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi overstepped her authority when she declared the polarizing union law void. While accounts differ, the justices were apparently discussing the decision and its timing.

The AP ignored the opposing version of the story which appeared early Saturday evening at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, even though the time stamp on the wire service's report is over 20 hours later, and even though it was an earlier Journal Sentinel report which formed the basis for both the current story and the AP's coverage this morning (bolds are mine):

... another source told the Journal Sentinel that Bradley attacked Prosser.

 

"She charged him with fists raised," the source said.

 

Prosser "put his hands in a defensive posture," the source said. "He blocked her."

 

In doing so, the source said, he made contact with Bradley's neck.

 

... Another source said the justices were arguing over the timing of the release of the opinion, which legislative leaders had insisted they needed by June 14 because of their work on the state budget. As the justices discussed the case, Abrahamson said she didn't know whether the decision would come out this month, the source said.

 

At that point, Prosser said he'd lost all confidence in her leadership. Bradley then came across the room "with fists up," the source said. Prosser put up his hands to push her back.

 

Bradley then said she had been choked, according to the source. Another justice - the source wouldn't say who - responded, "You were not choked."

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air raised an important point about the Bradley-as-aggressor version which I overlooked earlier today relating to the words bolded in the above excerpt:

... that looks like two sources for the JSO version supporting Prosser and one for the WW version supporting Bradley as the victim.

Madison, Wisconsin blogger Ann Althouse has also made this inconvenient (for Bradley's defenders) "two vs. one" point.

"WW" is WisconsinWatch.org, aka "The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ... which also collaborates with Wisconsin Public Television, the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication and other news media." WW originally "broke" Bradley's side of the story (including the Journal Sentinel's first version), while "somehow" not learning of the alternative version of events.

WW's work has been exposed as incomplete at the very least and arguably agenda-driven.

Meanwhile, as the AP refuses to acknowledge what appears to be the majority argument in favor of Prosser's version of events, I believe I have uncovered a clue as to the unbylined item's author in this paragraph from the story:

Leaders in the Republican-controlled Legislature had pushed for a decision by June 14 because they were working on the state budget, and Walker's proposal depended on expected savings from the law. Along with limiting most public employees' bargaining rights, it requires them to pay 12 percent of their health insurance costs and 5.8 percent of their pension costs.

That paragraph repeats a drop-dead obvious mischaracterization of the bill's provisions -- affected employees will really pay 5.8% of their gross pay into the state's retirement system, not 5.8% of the related costs -- which was present in a June 15 AP report on public-sector unions' filing of a lawsuit attempting to overturn the related law, commonly known as the "Budget Repair bill."

That report was authored by the AP's Scott Bauer. If it's his work , it would not exactly be out of character for Bauer, whose reportage in the four months since the confrontations over the bill began has been consistently anti-Walker and pro-public sector union, to ignorantly or deliberately leave out Prosser's defense.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.