Someone is lying. Either Julian Bradley, a candidate for state senate, or WISN’s Mark Belling, is not telling the truth.

We did not reject the pro-life op-ed submitted by Bradley. We suggested two edits to the piece and asked one style question. Instead of responding, the Bradley campaign apparently reached out to Belling to complain we rejected the piece.

I want to stress we did not reject the op-ed. If Bradley is claiming that we rejected his op-ed, he is lying.

Below is our full correspondence with Bradley’s campaign “volunteer” Jess Ward, who was a consultant to U.S. Senate candidate Leah Vukmir’s campaign. The first email was on Tuesday, July 14, at 12:54 PM.

Hey James, 

Wondering if you’d be willing to put this op-ed up on Right Wisconsin?  Hope all is well.

Jess Ward

I responded later that evening:

Hi Jessica, 
Let me look at it tomorrow and I’ll let you know if we’re running it Thursday. That work?
James Wigderson, Editor, RightWisconsin

Jessica Ward 
Wed, Jul 15, 2020 at 7:57 AM

To: James Wigderson

Yes, that works. Appreciate the consideration! 

Clearly I was not afraid of the subject matter. I do have concerns about running self-serving op-eds from candidates in Republican primaries. However, we have run them in the past and we will continue to do so, even if we continue to avoid making any endorsements when possible.

I will say this. I’m glad I asked for the extra time and did not make a full commitment to running it. It was not the best-written piece and I made a couple of editing suggestions:

“Sincere black lives matter allies should eliminate the Sanger shrine to racism embodied in every Planned Parenthood today”

-I’m a little uncomfortable with that language given past incidents of violence.

“Sincere Black Lives Matter allies should work for the legal end of the Sanger shrine to racism embodied in every Planned Parenthood today.”

Also, I’m eliminating this sentence, since this is in doubt and the only study on the topic questioned the stat.

“It’s no coincidence that Planned Parenthood surgical clinics continue to be located primarily in overwhelmingly black neighborhoods.”

Given the violence of the Black Lives Matters protests, and also violence at abortion clinics, calling on protesters to “eliminate” Planned Parenthood was not the best wording. My suggested substitute, “work for the legal end” accomplished the goal of supporting an end to Planned Parenthood without any possibility of being misinterpreted as endorsing violence.

As for the location of Planned Parenthood clinics, there has been one study on the matter and it disproved Bradley’s point. I have no problem publishing a pro-life op-ed, and RightWisconsin is a pro-life website, but we have an obligation to be factually accurate.

Notice, nowhere in the email was the op-ed rejected. Nowhere was the idea that Planned Parenthood has a racist origin criticized or removed from the op-ed. If Bradley is claiming we rejected his op-ed, he is lying.

I received the following, very odd, response from Ward on Wednesday at 8:31 PM:

I’ll need to run this by Julian… I’m not sure he’ll be comfortable with having his content edited. 

If you submit an op-ed for publication, it will be edited, regardless of the publication. If someone running for office cannot bear to have his words edited, I would strongly suggest a different line of work.

However, I responded Wednesday night at 10:43 PM:

Editing comes with the title. Ultimately, it’s RightWisconsin on the masthead.

Could you also ask him if there is a specific reason he is not capitalizing Black Lives Matter? In addition to the recent AP style change which capitalizes “Black,” Black Lives Matter refers to the name of a group. If he’s just referring to the slogan, it should be in quotes. If there’s a specific reason for the lower-case, I’m fine with it but I need to know.

Again, Bradley’s op-ed was not rejected for publication. Two edits to improve the column and a style question does not equal rejection. Again, if Bradley is claiming we rejected his op-ed, he is lying.

After Belling’s segment aired, I sent Ward an email asking for her job title with the campaign and she replied, “volunteer.”

RightWisconsin remains a pro-life publication and we will always be a pro-life publication as long as I draw breath. The pro-life ad space you see on our website is donated by RightWisconsin to those organizations. One of the reasons RightWisconsin remains “for profit” (although we make very little money) is so we have the absolute freedom to defend the pro-life cause and pro-life candidates.

I do not know why Bradley’s campaign would completely misrepresent our email exchange. I can only speculate. But I won’t here. My only comment is that, if this is the way Bradley’s campaign is going to conduct itself, Bradley has no business holding public office.

The Bradley campaign has my phone number and personal email address. I await their full explanation and apology.

(We’ll address the Belling issue in a second op-ed.)