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.