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WMUR TV Fabricates A Story Promoting Scott Brown, Attacking Billy Shaheen

Say goodbye to news coverage with integrity on WMUR TV.

Many NHLN readers already think WMUR TV has been biased toward Republican candidates and causes for years – but they have reached a new low.

This past weekend, WMUR TV decided to try to gain some ratings points by completely misrepresenting a quote from Senate candidate Scott Brown. Instead of just bending the facts to make a mediocre story more appealing, WMUR completely twisted them to build a news angle that didn’t actually exist.

Here’s what really happened: Last Wednesday, Scott Brown visited the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester. He met many voters, both supporters and opponents, as you would expect in any public campaign stop. Among the people he met was Manchester resident Wayne Alterisio. Wayne is a popular figure in the city and is the NH State Association of Letter Carrier State President.  Wayne and I have been friends for decades.

I don’t remember when I first told Wayne that Scott Brown and I went to high school together in Wakefield, MA. Actually, Scott and I were pretty good friends until Scott went off to college. We sort of lost touch after that. However, Wayne never forgot that Scott and I had once been good friends.

Last Wednesday, while Wayne was eating his breakfast in the Red Arrow Diner, Scott Brown walked in and they engaged in a conversation.

As Wayne told me later, Wayne greeted the candidate cordially, “Hi Senator Brown … I know a very good friend of yours, Bill Brickley.Wayne and Senator Brown then had a discussion on the Minimum Wage as that is a significant issue for many working class families.  As Senator Brown was ending their conversation, Brown said, “Say hi to Billy for me.

WMUR did not have their own camera crew following Senator Brown, so who knows where they got their information about what was said that day. But incredibly, in their coverage of the Red Arrow Diner visit, WMUR cited Senator Brown’s “Say hi to Billy” comment as a reference to Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s husband, William “Billy” Shaheen.

There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of people in New Hampshire named “Billy.” So what reason would WMUR TV have, to think that Senator Brown’s “Say Hi to Billy” comment referred to Senator Shaheen’s husband?

WMUR then built an entire segment around the comment. WMUR Political Director Josh McElveen was the reporter (or should I say creator?) of the story, making it even more egregious. The almost 3 minute piece has been widely circulated, both when it was originally shown and then when it was highlighted on weekend news recaps.

The only thing worse than a fake news story is a widespread fake news story.

WMUR did not see that the real new story in the conversation between Wayne and Senator Brown was growing income inequality and the stagnant Minimum Wage.

Evidently there isn’t much appetite for that. Instead, WMUR took a one-sentence remembrance, completely out of context, and pushed it to attack Senator Shaheen and her husband Billy.

It’s easy to connect this pro-Scott Brown coverage to the $74,545 that the Scott Brown campaign has paid WMUR this week for just one particular ad that is to be shown 148 times. I would imagine this saturation is already conveying Senator Brown’s message sufficiently. Feeling the need to manufacture fake anti-Shaheen “news” angles seems to me to hint at overkill.

Incidentally, WMUR is in a bitter dispute with its own 13 IBEW photographers, as the company continues to deny them pension benefits that are afforded to other WMUR employees. Since 2005, these 13 union employees have been singled out and denied pension benefits. This is unconscionable when you consider the fact that WMUR parent corporation Hearst has made $10 billion in revenue. They are the only 13 employees at the station denied these benefits.   This may be the reason that WMUR had to rely on a NECN video crew to get a news feed of Senator Brown’s Red Arrow visit that took place one mile from WMUR studios.

WMUR TV owes an apology for this fabrication.

The first victim of this malicious lie is NH Letter Carrier State President Wayne Alterisio. Wayne was falsely accused of being there on the instruction of Billy Shaheen. Wayne should be commended for being cordial to Senator Brown and for bringing up the minimum wage issue. Minimum Wage is directly related to the income inequality that has become one of our nation’s biggest problems. Though they disagreed on that subject, it was a respectful conversation.

Also due an apology is the campaign of Senator Jeanne Shaheen. She had absolutely nothing to do with Wayne choosing to have breakfast at the Red Arrow.

The biggest apology should go to the viewers and advertisers of WMUR.  Though the station portrays itself as a credible news organization, the actions related to this story show otherwise. Viewers and advertisers expect WMUR to report the news factually – and not act like tabloid journalism by completely fabricating news.  This wasn’t an accident or a typo. This was clear fabrication and WMUR TV must be held responsible.

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About Bill Brickley

Bill is a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers, formerly served on the NH Letter Carrier Executive Board as CD1 Legislative Liaison. Also serves on the NH AFL-CIO Executive Board. Former NH Area Coordinator Amnesty International and NH Labor News Blogger Follow him on twitter @BillBrickley
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