Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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Fox 6 Edited Out All Questions About Milwaukee Public Museum’s Finances

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TOP FACTS
  • Alexandra Hahnfeld’s grandfather was a curator of the Milwaukee Public Museum’s European Village exhibit, and she is trying to save it, launching a petition drive with her sisters.
  • In an interview with Fox 6 this week, Hahnfeld raised concerns about the museum’s finances, diversity updates, and shifting numbers, but the television station refused to give viewers the information.
  • Wisconsin Right Now, with a grant from Kevin Nicholson’s No Better Friend Corp. organization, has been reporting for the past month on the concerns. See our reporting here.
  • Hahnfeld says, “I don’t feel like they shared the whole story.”

Fox 6 edited out all questions about the Milwaukee Public Museum’s finances, multi-million dollar planned diversity updates and shifting numbers in a story on the new $240 million museum project, leaving them on the cutting room floor, and refusing to let the public know the concerns exist, Wisconsin Right Now has learned.

The museum’s earned media director, Madeline Anderson, is a former reporter for Fox 6, according to her LinkedIn page.

“I don’t feel like they shared the whole story,” Alexandra Hahnfeld, who was interviewed for a story on the new museum by Fox 6, told Wisconsin Right Now in a video interview.

After the Fox 6 interview aired, Hahnfeld texted us, “Wow! I did an interview for Fox 6 and mainly talked about the lack of transparency and how their money spending is questionable… and they didn’t include ANY of that. The whole interview I talked about how MPM has been LYING, and they never once mentioned that? Or the fact they (museum officials) said it would cost X amount of money and then said never mind it’s this much money?”

The Fox 6 story was reported by Madalyn O’Neill. It ended up being a human interest feature about Hahnfeld’s grandfather, a Serbian immigrant.

We first spoke to Alexandra Hahnfeld and her sisters Demitra Hahnfeld and Natalia Kulas last month for a story about their petition to save the museum’s European Village, which is located next to the Streets of Old Milwaukee (it’s the part where you peek in houses from different cultures.) Their grandfather, Dr. Lazar Brkich, was a curator for the exhibit; he was a Serbian immigrant to Milwaukee who painstakingly researched and selected many of the artifacts in it.

The petition was widely reported by the other media as well, so when Fox 6 contacted Alexandra Hahnfeld this week and asked for an interview, she thought they wanted to know about the latest: The questions that have been raised over the museum’s finances, including its shifting numbers for “deferred maintenance,” and $80-90 million estimate for racial and equity updates museum officials won’t explain.

Wisconsin Right Now, with the grant from Kevin Nicholson’s No Better Friend non-profit, has been leading the way in investigating those questions, while the rest of the media have acted as virtual stenographers for the museum, despite the $85 million in taxpayer money allotted to it. You can read all of our reporting here; it is ongoing with more to come soon.

But all of Hahnfeld’s comments on those topics didn’t make the broadcast.

“I talked about the money disparities and the lack of transparency from the museum and all that stuff,” Hahnfeld told WRN. “I thought that was the main point of the interview … afterwards, I watched it (the TV story) once… I watched it a couple more times. Then I went to the (Fox 6) Facebook page; there were so many comments underneath asking, ‘You know what about the money stuff?'”

After the clip of her talking about her grandfather, the story included a soundbite from the museum officials about how anything being said regarding exhibits is speculation. That made Hahnfeld feel like the station insinuated falsely that she was basing her comments on speculation when she is not.

“I felt like why did you guys even ask me to do an interview? I don’t feel like they addressed or brought up any of the concerns and the controversial parts of the interview,” she said.

She said she believed Fox 6 was taking the museum’s side. “First, they said it would cost this much, then they said it would cost that much,” she said of museum officials, but Fox 6 did not tell viewers any of this.

“I really wanted to spread the message,” Hahnfeld said. She said she had already shared the story of her grandfather multiple times.

She wanted a chance to say “this is a big thing that people are talking about … and a lot of people are mad about it.”

“They definitely didn’t share information that I wanted them to share,” she said.

Hahnfeld said she sent the reporter links to Wisconsin Right Now’s articles to show that the facts are backed up with documentary evidence.

“We’ve all been asking for answers this whole entire time. They’ve been kind of weird about the wording of things,” she said of the museum.

Fox 6 used a soundbite in the story showing the museum’s earned museum director, Anderson, the former Fox 6 reporter, saying in January of the Streets of Old Milwaukee and European Village: “These exhibits, these buildings and other murals, those are painted on or built into this structure. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t just bring them over to the new building.”

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The Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections and the Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection held a hearing Thursday with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, some local election clerks and Fond du Lac County’s district attorney.

“We're not trying to get anybody into a bad spot here, or in a corner, or make accusations on that level,” Sen. Dan Knodl, R-Germantown, said. “We want our clerks, who are already stressed enough, to know that we are here to be there as an assist to them.”

Rep. Scott Krug, R-Nekoosa, said he wants to make sure voters have faith in Wisconsin’s electoral process.

“This is one of the topics that hit our inboxes quite a bit the last three months or so,” Krug added. “We thought it’s pretty important just to vet it out, to get all the information out to the public.”

The Wisconsin Elections Commission was invited to Thursday’s meeting but didn’t attend because commissioners were having a meeting of their own. But that left lawmakers’ questions unanswered.

Wis-DOT Deputy Secretary Kristina Boardman said Wisconsin is known as a strict voter ID state.

“I want to make very clear that Wis-DOT is required to provide free identification cards for U.S. citizens that request them for the purposes of voting, and that to be eligible for that free identification card one must be a U.S. citizen and at least 17 years of age,” Boardman said. “Wis-DOT staff do not determine voter eligibility or register anyone to vote. Someone who has a Wisconsin ID or a driver's license is eligible to register to vote online, and that information will be confirmed with Wisconsin DMV systems to ensure that the information entered for voter registration is consistent with the DMV's records

Boardman said in Wisconsin, less than a fraction of one percent of ID requests are fraudulent.

“We put together [a] case activity report, assemble all of the documentation that we have, we have the investigator that had the case pull that together, and we do refer that to law enforcement so that they can take whatever action is appropriate,” Boardman added. “We note what statutes we believe may have been violated. And then it's up to law enforcement to take action.”

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(The Center Square) – On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate voted to override nine vetoes from Gov. Tony Evers, including the vetoes that scuttled PFAS clean-up money, millions of dollars that were earmarked for hospitals in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls and a plan that would allow advanced practice registered nurses to work more independently.

“The legislature has passed hundreds of bills to solve problems facing Wisconsin businesses and families. Most of these bills were signed into law, but many were vetoed by a governor more focused on politics than policies that help everyday Wisconsinites,” Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said Tuesday. “Overriding the governor’s obstructive vetoes is the last, best way to address these critical issues.”

The override votes came one day after Evers sued the legislature over nearly $200 million that is attached to some of his vetoes.

Most of that money is the $125 million that’s supposed to go toward PFAS clean up in Wisconsin.

“For the fifth time this legislative session, I voted to provide Wisconsin families with the largest investment in clean drinking water in state history – five more times than every Democrat legislator in this state combined. The bill that Gov. Evers vetoed (SB 312) would have created a grant program that targets this critical funding to areas of the state most heavily impacted by PFAS contamination while protecting innocent landowners from financial ruin,” Sen Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, said.

Evers has accused the legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee of obstructing his plans to clean up Wisconsin’s drinking water, and of delaying his other actions across the state.

LeMahieu said Evers is simply playing the game.

“While Gov. Evers plays politics, the legislature will continue to do the right thing on behalf of the people of our state,” LeMahieu added.

Senate Democrats responded with game-playing accusations of their own.

“Coming in to do all these veto overrides was clearly a stunt to try to appeal to voters ahead of the fall election,” Den. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, said. “Clearly Republicans were hearing from things in their district and wanted political cover. I don't think they got political cover today. I think what they got was people realizing just how afraid they are.”

But Tuesday’s veto overrides are largely symbolic.

While Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate have a veto-proof majority, Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly do not.

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With less than half a year until the 2024 presidential election, former President Donald Trump holds a sizable lead over incumbent President Joe Biden in several swing states.

While the overall national polling varies and shows a tighter race, Trump holds significant leads in several swing states.

According to Real Clear Politics, Trump leads in a slew of key battleground states like Arizona (+5.2), Georgia (+4.6), Michigan (+0.8), Nevada (+6.2), North Carolina (+5.4), Pennsylvania (+2.0), and Wisconsin (+0.6).

Other polling has shown Trump with a dominant lead in the Sun Belt while performing less well against Biden in some rust belt swing states.

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Trump’s lead has been in large part fueled by minority voters flocking to his side.

Meanwhile, Biden’s approval rating has plummeted since taking office. While that is not unusual for incumbents, Biden’s approval is lower than recent presidents.

Gallup recently released polling data showing that in the 13th quarter of Biden’s presidency, he averaged a 38.7% approval rating, worse than Trump at the same time in his term.

“None of the other nine presidents elected to their first term since Dwight Eisenhower had a lower 13th-quarter average than Biden,” Gallup said.

Axios reported this week that Biden and his team think the polls don’t represent Americans’ actual feelings and that the president’s position is strong.

“They're still 50% (well 45%) to win, per betting markets,” pollster Nate Silver wrote on X. “But Biden has been behind Trump in polls for a year now. His approval is in the tank, and voters have been clear they think he's too old. If Trump wins, history will not remember Biden kindly.”

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“I’m under a gag order,” Trump told reporters after a court appearance Tuesday. “Nobody has actually seen anything like it ... I'm beating him in every poll and I have a gag order, so I think it's totally unconstitutional."

Republicans have blasted Biden for Trump’s prosecution, accusing Biden of using the Justice Department against his political opponent.

“Despite Far Left Democrats’ illegal election interference, President Trump is beating Joe Biden in the polls!” Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., wrote on X Tuesday. “Voters see right through the sham Biden Trials and know President Trump is the best choice for president.”

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