Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

It’s official. Dan Bice is only a gossip columnist in quotes


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which has still not justified its hit on state Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley’s personal life, has decided that calling Dan Bice a gossip columnist will only occur within quotation marks. For example, in this petulant piece complaining Milwaukee mayoral candidate Alderman Bob Donovan walked out of an editorial meeting, Mary Spicuzza wrote:

Donovan said he had no intention of sitting down for an interview with the editorial board if Bice, whom he called a “gossip columnist,” remained in the room.

“Write whatever you damn well please,” Donovan said before leaving just minutes after he arrived.

David Haynes, the editorial page editor, told the south side alderman that it was the newspaper’s longtime policy to allow reporters and columnists to join meetings when the editorial board interviews candidates and others.

“This will be a short meeting then,” said Donovan, who is challenging Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the April 5 election.

“Then the meeting’s over,” Haynes said. “We’re done.”

“No, that’s fine guys. Thank you,” Donovan said.

Louis Farrakhan-friendly columnist James Causey also put in the quotation marks for the description of Dan Bice as a gossip columnist.

Donovan’s decision to leave the meeting (the Journal Sentinel’s characterization) is understandable given the gossip dredged up by Bice and politicians can choose not to talk to Bice just as they can choose not to talk to Page Six of the New York Post. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editors probably suspected that Bice’s presence would have that reaction on Donovan and that’s why Bice was there. On the other hand, Donovan should have confirmed with the newspaper who would be attending the meeting before he agreed to show up.

But that leaves the question, why the quote marks? If Dan Bice isn’t a gossip columnist, then what is he? Animal, vegetable or mineral? He has said he doesn’t write about public policy. He reports on divorces and other personal issues concerning public and semi-public figures. Given the dirt he digs through, if he’s not a gossip columnist, is he a worm?

So I asked Mary Spicuzza on Twitter, why the quote marks?

So if Spicuzza doesn’t believe Bice is a gossip columnist, then what is he? Perhaps the problem is that the newspaper has become such a practitioner of tabloid journalism that it no longer understands the definition of a gossip columnist. Spicuzza herself was an author of the hit piece on Justice Bradley’s personal life and has still offered no explanation or defense of her role or the role of Patrick Marley in suppressing the statement from Bradley’s ex-husband defending the Supreme Court Justice. Jason Stein, the other author of the hit piece, and Marley have not offered any defenses of their work either.

Perhaps if Spicuzza and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel acknowledge that Bice is a gossip columnist, they’ll have to acknowledge the mud they’re rolling in, too.

Unlike the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, I’m a fair person (more or less). While they may think it’s okay to suppress a statement from Justice Rebecca Bradley’s ex-husband, I’m going to post the whole response from Mary Spicuzza on Twitter that came after this blog post was written.


By the way, no defense by Spicuzza or Stein of their colleague Patrick Marley’s decision to withhold a statement from Justice Bradley’s ex-husband, or why they wrote that awful personal attack on the Bradley’s personal life.

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