McBride came out with a short release (actually an email) of an excuse, trying to protect her "professional" (as in what does she teach, anyway?) integrity. Her excuse reads (emphasis mine):
It is because the relationship with Police Chief Flynn has unfortunately become public that this statement is released. This was a deeply personal matter between two adults who have addressed the relationship with those who need to know the details. I am grateful to my family, friends and the many other people who have expressed kindness and support. It is truly humbling.This caused some red flags to go up, but I wasn't sure why. Call it my Whallah! instinct.
The romantic relationship did not occur until long after the reporting and editing of the magazine article on Chief Flynn. I completed and turned in the Milwaukee Magazine story on Chief Flynn on Jan. 5, 2009 and a final edit was turned in Feb. 16. The story was in mailboxes in mid-April. At that point, my professional relationship with him had ended.
The romantic relationship with Chief Flynn began in May at Brocach’s Irish pub – four months after I completed and turned in the Milwaukee Magazine article.
Contrary to a media report, I never interviewed Chief Flynn at Brocach’s. Prior to my May social meeting with him at Brocach’s, I only met with and interviewed Chief Flynn once in December 2008 at the police department with other officers and the public information spokeswoman for MPD present. At the time of the Brocach’s meeting in May, I was an academic who no longer covered Flynn and would not ever do so again.
I ask that the media now respect the privacy of all of the parties involved.
Apparently, it also apparently caused Dan Bice, who continues his coverage with this new story, some suspicions:
Bice goes on to give the reason for McBride's defensive and elusive response:
"The romantic relationship with Chief Flynn began in May at Brocach's Irish Pub - four months after I completed and turned in the Milwaukee Magazine article," she wrote.
That's, in short, what she put out there.
Even more interesting is what she left out.
Her statement fails to address details from a letter that she wrote to Flynn last month. In that note, the 39-year-old journalist describes how it was love at first sight during her first interview with the 61-year-old top cop. She also suggests that her feelings and attitude toward the chief affected her handling of the story.
"Perceived you instantly - knew you were a good person who does things for the right reason," the letter says. "As a result, I began to struggle with the story - having to give time to vitriolic, baseless critics."
Overall, the tone of Flynn's statement was contrite, whereas McBride's was combative.
The stakes for her, though, are pretty high.
McBride, a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has taught ethics as part of her journalism classes. Reporters are forbidden from writing about individuals to whom they have strong personal ties.
In the next year or two, McBride will be up for "indefinite status," which is similar to tenure for academic staff members. Officials in the journalism department have declined to comment so far on the matter.
The right wing bloggers are hanging a lot on this one statement from McBride. They have started to champion her again, saying something to the effect of: "See, Jess said it's OK, so there's nothing to it. Bice and all the lefties owe her an apology!"
The Milwaukee Magazine story was not her last piece on Flynn. Almost everyone seems to have forgotten that McBride also has a weekly editorial column for the Waukesha Freeman.
On April 25, 2009, just one week before the supposed start of their affair, McBride wrote an editorial about the open carry controversy. In it, McBride talks about Flynn's policy on how to deal with a person who is openly carrying a gun. She is somewhat critical of the policy, but she is very careful not to mention Flynn by name, as if he is somehow not responsible for his own policies.
That editorial could help make much more sense of a phrase from her mysterious love letter, in which she wrote:
"Perceived you instantly - knew you were a good person who does things for the right reason," the letter says. "As a result, I began to struggle with the story - having to give time to vitriolic, baseless critics."It is as if she is apologizing for having to write something critical of his policy. She wouldn't want to hurt the feelings of her paramour, now would she? After all, he completes her.