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Brett Shipp’s Shoddy, Agenda-Driven Reporting

Photo by Scott Womack

Last year Eric Celeste wrote a column for us in which he called WFAA Channel 8 reporter Brett Shipp a bully. If you missed that piece, please read it, because if offers a lot of context. Today, I offer more proof that Eric nailed it.

Last Tuesday, Shipp showed up uninvited with a cameraman at KERA’s studios, hoping to get in on Mayor Mike Rawlings’ and Trustee Bernadette Nutall’s appearance on Think (the one during which the mayor said Toyota picked Plano over Dallas because DISD wasn’t up to snuff). Shipp was turned away.

He apparently thought he’d get another shot at the mayor on Friday, when a group called Support Our Students held a summit to hear student input on how the district can be improved. The group told people in a press release that the mayor would attend. When he didn’t, Shipp was filled with righteous indignation. He tweeted: “Mayor Rawlings is a No Show at an education summit involving DISD students. Home rule was a main topic.” His report on the 6 o’clock news amplified that sentiment. The headline: “Guest of Honor Mayor Rawlings Misses Meeting With DISD Students.”

Shipp got the whole thing wrong. Yes, the organizers put out a press release saying the mayor would attend. But the mayor never made that promise. His spokesman, Sam Merten, told me that the mayor said he would attend if his schedule allowed it. Zac has followed the mayor around to write about him. The mayor’s day is heavily scheduled, as you might imagine. So sometimes he tells people, in essence, “I’ll make it if I can.” Shipp would have learned this if he’d called or emailed Merten. Instead he just tweet at him: “Sam, where was the Mayor today at 1:30? DISD students were waiting to give him their feedback.” Merten didn’t respond. Shipp went ahead with his attack. That’s not how it is supposed to work.

It’s also worth noting that neither KERA’s story about the summit nor the Morning News’ mentioned that the mayor didn’t attend. Because that wasn’t the story; it was just Shipp trying to stir up controversy. Furthermore, as the KERA story makes clear, the summit’s main topic wasn’t home rule, as Shipp said in his tweet. I talked to someone who was there, and she confirmed that. At the meeting, the students hardly talked about home rule at all.

Shipp has too many awards on his mantel to do this sort of thing.

UPDATE (1:07 PM) It was Mike Mooney, not Zac, who followed the mayor to write about him. And Merten tells me that Shipp did, in fact, try to contact him via email, but Merten missed that note.

16 comments on “Brett Shipp’s Shoddy, Agenda-Driven Reporting

  1. Dang good points. (prior two versions trapped for moderator review)

  2. this would be a good place to post the video of Brett Shipp being an a-hole to Dirk. If the video was online somewhere.

  3. Bully might be an understatement for Brett Shipp. A few years ago he took the word of one person who wanted a bogus refund from my company and turned the false information into a story that devastated my life. He never once called anyone on the long list of references spanning more than a decade. He didn’t consider the contract his source signed and he failed to air the part of my interview explaining why the client isn’t entitled to the large sum. In fact, I gave him the interview he wanted but he still showed up unexpected to get his footage of me asking him to stop bothering me; that I’d already answered all of his questions. I was unemployable following the story and my family suffered in the community. WFAA is responsible for running these stories and giving Shipp the freedom to destroy innocent people.
    Many suggested suing but they don’t understand- it’s a David and Goliath thing and when Shipp has taken away your ability to earn a living, how can you pay an attorney.

  4. I’m so grateful someone is calling out that egomaniac. I had to sit through his self-congratulatory drivel at a recent SPJ awards ceremony. His entire speech consisted of listing all of the people who want to kill him because of his brilliance, how many awards he’s won, how we should all be more like him, and how various power-brokers have kowtowed to him.

    He went on to discuss how a VA hospital administrator consulted him on how to run a hospital (because that’s a journalist’s job).

    And he went on and on… he even performed an encore of his list of people who hate him. He can include me and everyone at my table.

  5. I don’t like Shipp. But, isn’t it funny to see The Observer calling someone out for agenda driven reporting.

  6. Oops. Update. Two inaccurate statements in one short blog? Both trying to further your point? Now THAT might be considered shoddy, agenda driven reporting.

  7. WFAA’s latest set of personnel hires and production decisions really have left me questioning the direction of the department. I’m a lifelong Channel8 “P1″ and lately been repeatedly disappointed in the station’s presentation.

    Starting with the fact they can’t seem to go a day without some level of production error. There was a time Channel 8 could be counted on for a flawless production for weeks, months on end (at least that is how it seemed to the viewers), but now – especially since the introduction of those ridiculous touch screens – an almost daily run of missed cues, teleprompter issues, people walking in front of cameras and well, stuff I expect from CW33.

    Then there is the issue of Brett and Byron. Good lord, could we please stop with the overly aggressive, to the point of actually getting physical with people, reporting?

    I couldn’t believe my eyes last week when I saw Brett actually shoving against someone who was trying to prevent him from getting into an elevator to question someone that didn’t want to be. That is not tenacious or quality reporting, it is hokey grandstanding that makes him and this once great station look desperate.

    Please Brett, quit it. Just ask people questions, if they don’t want to answer that in itself is enough for the viewers. We don’t need you acting like you’re intimidating people into truthfulness. You’re not.

    That’s punk reporting, not the stuff your dad was known for.

    So, there’s that, then we have video of Byron actually running down a dirt road chasing after a truck who’s driver wouldn’t talk to him.

    That’s just flat out funny (i.e.: embarrassing).

  8. Well, only one could be classified as “trying to further [his] point.” As for the mixup of me and Mooney, we’re both geniuses with plentiful facial hair, so it happens quite a bit.

  9. Getting information for a story is not always a perfectly choreographed process. Brett Shipp certainly shows us the messy side of being an investigative reporter. Seems there are some in our community who like the silent reporter types who smile real pretty and put us to sleep with their irrelevant stories. Kudos to Brett for not taking the easy street.