I and other Wisconsin talks how hosts this week have told you the story of how Jeremy "Segway Boy" Ryan, has been harassing the Capitol press corps. Specifically, Gwen Guenther of the Wheeler News Service(founded by her late father Dick Wheeler, after whom the Capitol Press Room is named) complained to capitol police about Ryan's daily tormenting of the press room staff for most of the summer.
This included Ryan, at one point, singing a mocking song about Dick Wheeler being dead. The abuse has gotten so great that she has moved Wheeler News Service to another building. Thus far Dane County DA Ismael Ozanne has done exaclty nothing. There are a lot of shocking things in the complaint she filed with Capitol Police. Among the more notable is one where she says three other members of the media in the Press Office told her that at the request of their editors, they would not file complaints against harassers. They are Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Todd Richmond of AP and Clay Barbour of the Wisconsin State Journal. I reached out to all for comment. Richmond punted me to a Chicago editor who never got back to me. Barbour never responded at all. Deputy Managing Editor at the Journal Sentinel, Thomas Koetting did respond to me. I asked him if in fact Stein was ordered not to file a complaint. His response:
"No one ordered Jason to do, or not do, anything; that's not how we operate. There was discussion about the incident at the time, and there was agreement in the Madison press rooma nd Milwaukee newsroom not to instigate a complaint. I'm fine with that decision. When Jason was briefly questioned alter by police, he cooperated fully, of course."
Okay, so Stein wasn't ordered not to file a complaint. It seems pretty clear though that the decision was made above his head that a complaint would not be filed. In other words, it was a policy established and Stein had to follow it. I don't know that, but it sure seems the most likely scenario. After all, it it was discussed that means Stein brought it to management's attention, and after a meeting it was decided not to file a complaint.
I then asked why the JS didn't do a story on harassment so severe Guenther moved her business out of the Capitol building. Koetting's answer:
"We routinely deal with unsavory or offensive people int he course of our work, and it's not uncommon to have dicussions with security or law enforcement officials about some of those contacts. However, that does not automatically make those events news stories."
No it doesn't automatically make them news stories. But day after day after day? And what about the fact that it became so oppressive as to force Guenther out of the building? Your employee and other members of the media are facing this every day and it's not newsworthy? There is nothing "automatic" about that at all. It's an inane excuse for covering this up.