By the Members of the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative
We have reported allegations against Scott Walker made by Dr. Bernadette Gillick, who unequivocally states she knew him at Marquette University. Dr. Gillick has put her reputation on the line in making them.
The allegations are serious, and based on our research we judged Dr. Gillick to be a highly credible source. We chose to publish Dr. Gillick’s story because we felt that information already well known to major Wisconsin press organizations also should be known by the people of the state. We did not make this decision lightly.
The modern established press sees itself as a gatekeeper of information. We reject that role. Journalists are no more qualified to weigh the importance of a story than the average citizen. In keeping with its self-assigned gatekeeper role, the established Wisconsin press chose not to report Dr. Gillick’s story; in keeping with our rejection of that role, we chose to run it.
The true account of what actually happened is far more likely to emerge when many people know about the story than when it is the tightly guarded secret of a few journalists.
We see ourselves not as gatekeepers, but as responsible messengers. WCMC staff put in untold hours doing extensive background research for this story, many of the details of which we chose not to publish to protect the privacy of people who were allegedly victimized by Walker’s alleged actions.
The role of the journalist as responsible messenger is eloquently described by Paul DeMain of News From Indian Country. DeMain is the former President of the Native American Journalists Association and UNITY: Coalition, the largest organization of Journalists in the world, and describes the ethic of the media organization from this point of view as this:
“As a “Skabewis” my job as a messenger was not to prevent information (good or bad) from flowing out to the masses, but to moderate and relate it, including opinions, accusations, and facts, so that people could ask good questions, contemplate integrity, examine, debate and come to a consensus to act. Our integrity was in how we handled the information even if it might have been flawed by human handling, and not always making sure that an I was dotted for those that find that important.”
The meaning of “citizens” in Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative can be seen as twofold: Citizen journalists and an outlet for citizens’ voices. It was in that spirit that we published both Dr. Gillick’s remembrances of Scott Walker during their time together at Marquette University. Not publishing Dr. Gillick’s story would have amounted to a conscious decision to silence someone we have no reason to distrust, and who appears to be have nothing to gain from lying.
WCMC is not alleging that Walker fathered the child; we are reporting the allegations made by someone who has every appearance of credibility and no discernible ulterior motive. We are giving Dr. Gillick the opportunity to recount her memory of the Walker she knew at Marquette.
According to Dr. Gillick’s attorney, Michael Fargione, who was present for an interview of Dr. Gillick conducted by Dave Umhoefer from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week, he asked Dr. Gillick, “How do you know it was this Scott Walker?” She told him she had multiple conversations with him because her roommate was dating him. She exchanged words with him directly and in person after, as she alleges, he turned on her roommate once she notified him of her pregnancy and became unsupportive of her. “There is no mistake that it’s him,” she said.
We contacted “Ruth” for her comments on the story and she had this to say: “I can confirm that it was not Scott Walker who is my daughter’s father.” When confronted with the details of Dr. Gillick’s allegations and asked about the identity of the roommate in question, “Ruth” went on to say, “Unfortunately, I don’t know her name. But it was…[pause] I do know that one of Bernadette’s roommates, either sophomore or junior year, was pregnant and had a child while she was at Marquette. So that would have been either a year or two after I had had [my child]. And I don’t know whether, you know, I’d have no idea, to be honest with you, if Scott Walker was the father.”
Upon hearing the comments made by Dr. Gillick’s former roommate, Mike Fargione, her attorney, says Dr. Gillick stands by her statements and the timeline of her original story.