The Cop Who Can’t Stop (and the journalist who didn’t want him to…)


It’s late in the day, but I couldn’t let this one go.The police chief here in Milwaukee, where I’m spending a few days, has admitted to having an affair with a journalist for Milwaukee Magazine.

Where to even begin with this…

Start maybe with the fact that Jessica McBride and Chief Ed Flynn are both married, she to a former district attorney and he to a woman who didn’t want to come to Milwaukee in the first place.

Not a fan of the “moralizing” angle? How about the ethics? McBridewrote a huge article on Flynnfor Milwaukee Magazine, under the truly ironic title “The Cop Who Can’t Stop.” McBride gushed on for about 5,000 words, giving Flynn a glowing review including this tidbit:

Flynn is also a compelling physical presence: tall, iron-haired, fit (he once rode a bicycle 233 miles) and energetic. He has what one observer calls “command bearing.”

According to Dan Bice’s story in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Bice received an anonymous package of letters and emails between the two, outlining the situation:

No Quarter first became aware of Flynn’s relationship with McBride this month when someone anonymously sent a letter and e-mails purportedly written by the pair to one another.

“Perceived you instantly – knew you were a good person who does things for the right reason,” reads one signed Jessica. “As a result, I began to struggle with the story – having to give time to vitriolic baseless attacks.”

Uh… you mean you didn’t want to be mean to a guy you wanted to sleep with? Yeah, that’s fine. It’s like when you tell the guy at the bar he totally looks like George Clooney, I guess.

Bice, by his own account, hounded the chief for a comment on this, which finally came in the form of a statement of admission, without mentioning McBride by name. In fact, in a case of the “they don’t get it,” Bice noted he was barred from a press conference earlier this month due to the chief’s fear that he’d bring up the affair. The chief and his people apparently know nothing about investigative journalism, because when you’ve got pocket aces like Bice did, you never show your hand to the table. A press conference is the last place a savvy guy like Dan Bice would stand up and make an accusation.

Bice also tried everything from calls and emails to Facebooking McBride to get a comment. McBride finally emerged from the cave she apparently was sharing with Osama bin Laden today after the story broke and issued a brief, pointless and terse statement noting that this isn’t really news:

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 ask that the media now respect the privacy of all of the parties involved.

In other words, there’s nothing to see here, people. Move along, nothing to see here. You, the media scum, move along…

The statement, which smacks of being written by a ham-handed PR student in one of her classes at UW-Milwaukee, has the pretense of someone being unfairly attacked by a group of
vultures. The sad part is that if there was anyone who should
understand how this IS news it should be a journalist of McBride’s
pedigree. Later in the statement, McBride explains she didn’t start sleeping with the guy until long after the profile had gone to bed (sorry, I couldn’t pass it up…). However, the letter Bice obtained reveals a different story:

The handwritten note discussed her writing process.

“Just felt a little protective. Knew I didn’t want to do you wrong,” the letter says.

OK, once you’re done laughing at the double meaning there, come back to visit me here and follow along on the mission to see how deep this journo-fail goes. Beyond the general issue of not sleeping with people you cover, there’s more: McBride moonlights at UW-Milwaukee as a journalism instructor. One of her subjects? ETHICS. Of course… The head of the UWM journalism program declined to comment as did the mayor until after a day in which everyone involved in this had been skewered on local TV and talk radio. He then released a pretty basic, “Chief’s a good guy” statement that reminds me of the one Art Modell released about Bernie Kosar, calling him “my son” just before cutting his ass.

According to her UWM Web page, McBride researches the coverage of crime, oversees a student media Web site that covers the city (including the police, Bice notes) and has worked in almost every aspect of media in the city. She spent 10 years at the Journal-Sentinel, worked as a talk-show host at WTMJ radio and has been on Channel 4’s Sunday Insight panel. She’s also running the aforementioned Web site and is an active political blogger (see, it’s the Internet’s fault…).According to her personal site, she’s a third-generation newspaper reporter and the 2008 winner of a faculty-teaching award. To say she should have known better is an understatement of epic proportion.

This was not the case of a young, gullible journalist making a mistake due to naiveté. She’s a 39-year-old married woman with a master’s degree, more than a decade in the business and a head for news. (If you feel so inclined, you might note the “she’s young enough to be his daughter” thing, as Flynn is 61. I could care less, but if it helps add to your indignation, go for it.) She worked for the very paper that rooted out her indiscretion and she should have known it was going to come out. The chief isn’t blameless in this either. McBride was a journalist and he was a source. There’s a line that any student who ever took a class from McBride and any cop who ever served under Flynn knows enough not to cross.

In the end, they became what we at the university level tend to call “a teachable moment.” It remains to be seen if they’ve learned anything from this.

5 thoughts on “The Cop Who Can’t Stop (and the journalist who didn’t want him to…)

  1. Wow… My age, wrote for theWaukesha Freeman too… I’m starting to wonder whether I went to high school with her! Wish I hadn’t lost my yearbooks, a while back. The name does sound somewhat familiar, I’m sure.

  2. Shouldn’t that be I could NOT care less? Or could you care less about their age difference than you do? Or do you have a problem ordering pizza with anchovies and then being surprised that the pizza has anchovies on it?

  3. To me, a non-journalist, this is much ado about nothing. I fail to see a reason to be concerned because a news magazine story about a police chief was written by his girl friend. Should we all have been shocked, I tell you shocked, when Greenspan married Andrea Mitchell? If so, I missed out.

  4. Who’s investigating the sending of the anonymous emails and letters? The mischief-maker behind that is way more interesting to me than the rather standard (and kind of high-school-gushy) affair. I’d like to know that story.

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