Wilco D.A. advocates prosecutors’ promotion of self-interested agendas (TX)

This Released Past Statements Now Haunting John Bradley post from The Wilco Watchdog (TX) detailing statements made by embattled Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley presents a known, but not-so-often voiced reality with regard to how elected officials use the media in advancing self-interested agendas which may be adverse to taxpayer interests.

Bradley is one of the key players in the Michael Morton case, a Williamson County case in which a man was falsely convicted and wrongfully incarcerated for 25 years.  For six years, Bradley fought DNA testing of a bandana – testing that eventually provided evidence prompting Morton’s prison release and subsequent exoneration.  He also fought the release of additional non-DNA evidence that further supported the defense theory of an intruder having killed Morton’s wife, Christine – evidence that had it not been ignored and/or suppressed in 1986-87 could have created sufficient reasonable doubt to prevent Michael Morton’s conviction.

Bradley is being challenged in the Republican primary by current County Attorney Jana Duty as well as defense attorney Ken Crain.

Here’s the Bradley quote that attracted our attention.  It was posted Jan. 15, 2004 on the Texas District and County Attorney’s Association blog.

Prosecutors should consider establishing their own agenda. We do not have to be reactive to events. We can decide what events are important and publicize them. Prosecutor can generate their own stories. We see all sorts of things that occur in a community that a reporter will never know about unless we tell them. If we carefully consider a story and provide good background, a reporter will often be grateful for the tip and include a prosecutor’s point of view.

This perspective reminds of why citizen journalism – journalism not so often fighting a financial bottom-line or other influences – has become powerful. Traditional media sources can become “grateful” or, in other words, co-opted by government officials as Bradley advocates. When a reporter operates under a “they wanted me to run this story” mode and knows that failure to do so may jeopardize receipt of future story opportunities, it impacts a reporter’s coverage as well as their credibility.

Citizen journalism can bring its own sets of problems, but as a movement, it has proven the ability of many individuals to present competent, non-sensationalized, fact-based coverage of newsworthy items that are not being addressed – or are being addressed in more limited capacities – by traditional media sources.

Bradley’s admission of “spin” is an important concept of which news content consumers should stay mindful.