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

  • 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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