Reality Check: Democratic Party selectively edits parts of News 3 newscast
MADISON, Wis. — A political ad running on television this weekend may have looked an awful lot like News 3 at Six. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is running the ad in an assembly race featuring a News 3 investigative report and edits the newscast to give the viewer a false impression.
The ad, which started last week, uses footage from a News 3 Investigates report that first aired Oct. 20 about Dodgeville mayor and Republican candidate for Assembly Todd Novak.
“Police say Todd Novak was staggering that night last month on the way to his car,” the ad plays News 3 anchor Eric Franke saying.
“An officer said he watched as Novak staggered and nearly fell as he approached his car,” reporter Adam Schrager said in the ad.
News 3 finds this is true. The investigative story is based on a police report from Sept. 20, where a Dodgeville officer saw Novak in a parking lot and wouldn’t allow him to drive home. Novak called his neighbor and friend, police Sgt. David Bauer, for a ride.
“News 3 investigative reporter Adam Schrager found it’s not Novak’s first encounter with police as it relates to alcohol, and he bragged publicly about getting preferential treatment from his city’s police department,” anchor Michelle Li says in the ad.
News 3 finds the way this is used in the ad needs clarification. The News 3 report did confirm an operating while intoxicated arrest in May 1990, and three sources say Novak has bragged in public settings of having a “mayoral pass” to get him out of trouble. Novak refutes those allegations, but his comments were not included in this ad.
“Earlier this summer an officer spotted Mayor Todd Novak allegedly urinating on a downtown building near bar time,” Schrager says in the ad.
News 3 finds this is where the ad is misleading.
What Schrager says and what the video shows in the ad doesn’t match the video used in the News 3 report. Police say Novak was found urinating on a building this summer, but the document shown on the screen in the ad is from September. In the ad, the Democratic Party shows the incident report from the Sept. 20 incident to give a false impression and a false account of News 3’s reporting.
Dodgeville’s police chief told News 3 the public urination case was never documented, and he’s not sure why. Novak was also never cited for the Sept. 20 incident.