John Doe Investigation Emails Released

WFRV CBS 5  |  2-19-14 @ 5pm


*Editor’s Note: A separate John Doe investigation into spending and fundraising during the 2012 recall elections remains open, although the presiding judge, Gregory A. Peterson quashed the subpoenas issued in the probe; ruling on 1-10-14 that they do not show probable cause of violation of the campaign finance laws.

In its reporting on the release of the John Doe emails, WFRV Local 5 News never mentioned that the investigation is closed, and that Governor Walker was never charged with any wrong-doing. WFRV’s competitors, WBAY and WLUK, did mention these relevant facts. If one didn’t know better, one would think that this investigation, being reported on, is still

If one didn’t know better, one would think that this investigation, being reported on, is still open, and that Governor Walker is the target.

WFRV started off its newscast with this:

“A John Doe investigation uncovers 27,000 pages of emails. Why Governor Walker is under fire.”

From there, WFRV hyped this story beyond proportion; as evidenced by the actions of its competitors. WFRV led with this story, WBAY put it 5th in its line-up; the other stations also buried it. Why? Because there was nothing new to report except for the fact that the emails from a closed investigation were released, and that Walker’s political opponents are now combing through them looking for something that investigators might have missed.

Below is a transcript of WFRV’s full 5 pm report on this news item. Take note that it seems to be written to make it sound like the investigation is on-going. Take note of the fact that the reporter mentions Walker’s Deputy-Chief’s emails, but never mentions that she was convicted of wrong-doing and is appealing her conviction. Mentioning that she was convicted might have sent a clue that the investigation is over. We also find it interesting that the reporter, at the end of his report, makes a remark that seems to tie this closed investigation to the governor’s 2012 recall campaign activities.

Anchor: Good evening. People are getting their first look at evidence of a John Doe investigation involving Governor Walker. Some 27,000 emails make up the bulk of the evidence released today covering the 2010 governor’s race.

Reporter: The emails came from Walker’s Deputy Chief of Staff during his tenure as Milwaukee County Executive. They show the Deputy Chief working on campaign related duties from a private email during county work time. Some of that involved work for Lt. Governor Candidate Brett Davis who lost his bid for that office. An email from one sender to the Deputy Chief of Staff said that the sender was in regular contact with SKW, referring to Scott Walker. Democrats say even if Walker wasn’t involved in the activity, the emails show he knew what was going on, but the Governor disagrees.

Gov. Scott Walker: The process by which every one of those communications was reviewed by authorities so I’m confident that they reviewed them and chose to act on the ones that they’ve already made public and I don’t know that there will be any great surprises.

Mike Tate, Chair of Democrat National Committee: Scott Walker likes to stand in the middle of people committing criminal activity all around him and saying I had no idea what was going on. All these people were breaking the law but I was unaware of it. I wasn’t directing it.

Reporter: Multiple news organizations and Democratic Party of Wisconsin officials are pouring through the documents but those cover only the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, not the 2012 recall election.

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