Integrity: The Child Scott Walker Left Behind is a story that continues to be investigated by the WCMC. As updates are available, we will post them to our site.
The first “Scott Walker Integrity” article was published last Saturday by the WCMC. For the record, the WCMC reported on a statement received directly from Dr. Bernadette Gillick’s attorney, Michael Fargione, not from a secondary source. When reached by phone on Monday to follow up on the story, Fargione relayed to the WCMC that Dr. Gillick was “reaffirming everything she put in her original statement” and was “not wavering” on anything she had said or anything that was printed in the articles (the second article being, Editorial: On Integrity). Fargione praised the WCMC, stating that he was very pleased with the professional manner in which [the Coop] has handled things. He then went on to say that [the Coop] has been responsible in its journalism.
Not surprisingly, the WCMC’s article was picked up on numerous blog sites over the weekend. Robert Costa of National Review Online interviewed Michael Fargione:
“Gillick has no plans to issue any modified statement or retraction. “It’s still accurate and contains everything she knows, so there’s no reason to rehash it,” he says. “What Bernadette knows is the experience that her roommate had. She doesn’t have anything to add to what she has said.”
Fargione says Gillick’s motives are pure, regardless of the timing of her decision to come forward with her memory of freshman year at Marquette. “She’s not a political person,” he says. “She’s not a resident of Wisconsin and hasn’t been involved in that stuff.”
“But she has family there,” he acknowledges. “They sent her stuff about Walker’s statement during a debate, that he was a man of integrity, and that triggered her initial reaction and statement.”
“I’m not a political activist; she’s not a political activist,” Fargione says. He adds that there was no coordination with Democratic operatives about the allegation: “There was certainly no strategy involved. It was something she told family and friends based on her personal experience; they encouraged her, and there was no consultation with any political committee or anything like that.”
Fargione knows that Walker could potentially sue Gillick for the claim. “Anybody with a computer can sue you,” he says. “The truth is a defense. She reported what she experienced and I don’t see any problem with what she said. She reported what she knew and the sources of her knowledge. It was a public statement.”
“I don’t see a problem with a person being able to make statements about her knowledge of a public figure,” he says. “What happens with that statement is outside of her control.”
Fargione is an attorney with Hauer, Fargione, Love, Landy, McEllistrem & Rorvig, P.A, in Minneapolis, MN. He followed up the phone call with WCMC with the following letter:
From: Michael Fargione
Re: Your reporting of statement by Dr. Bernadette Gillick
Date: June 4, 2012
Given the various comments that have been made concerning your reporting of the story involving Dr. Bernadette Gillick, I am writing to provide this brief chronology of events.
Last week Bernadette sent an e-mail to some friends and relatives following the recent debate relating to the recall election.
One or more of the recipients of her e-mail apparently forwarded the e-mail to members of the media. Bernadette started getting calls asking for comments. Thursday night she prepared a short statement that accurately described her experiences as a freshman at Marquette in 1988.
The statement involved the pregnancy of her freshman roommate and the subsequent birth of a little girl later in 1988. While Bernadette observed the emotional stresses related to the pregnancy and was present at the hospital when the baby was born, her information about the relationship between the roommate and the father of the baby was based upon things that were told to her by the roommate.
Bernadette did not have any current information about how to contact her former roommate. When she spoke with various members of the media, she offered to provide information about the roommate’s identity so that the media people could acquire first hand information. She did so, however, on the condition that the information was given “off the record” and would not be published unless the roommate herself consented.
You were one of the people to whom the information was given. You honored your word by investigating but by not publishing identifying information about the roommate. Your published report, in my judgment, accurately stated the information given in Dr. Gillick’s statement.
While responses to your reporting will largely reflect the attitudes that people had before your report was issued, I can confirm that you have reported responsibly based upon the information that you received and based upon the limitations that were imposed as a condition of your receiving the information.