Wendy Davis Scandal: Meet the Reporter Who Shocked Texas's Media Darling
The Dallas Morning News published a January 19, 2014 article on Wendy Davis revealing that much of her personal redemption and story of overcoming was inaccurate.
The article, titled “As Wendy Davis Touts Life Story in Race for Governor, Key Facts Blurred,” touched off a firestorm with revelations that Texas’s Wendy Davis had been dishonest about her personal redemption story – specifically that she had never been a divorced teen single mother and that her living in a trailer had only been a short-term ordeal. The article raised other questions as well, including doubts about Davis’s commitment as a mother to raising her children and general questions pertaining to her character.
The journalist who broke the story for the Dallas Morning News, Wayne Slater (pictured), immediately came under fire and Wendy Davis herself insisted that the entire ordeal was a campaign tactic from her Republican opponent in the Texas gubernatorial race, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The implication in Davis’s accusation was that Slater was doing the bidding of her Republican opponent.
A look into Slater revealed that he is a frequent contributor to MSNBC, often leans left in his reporting, and is far from being a right-wing activist.
Breitbart News reached out to Slater via email and the courageous journalist had this to say:
Neither the Davis nor the Abbott campaigns approached me about this story. I never talked to the Abbott camp in advance of publishing the story and it was only after repeated requests for an interview beginning late last year that the Davis camp agreed to sit down with me a week ago.
He then explained how he came upon the shocking details of Davis’s misrepresentation of her own life and history:
One of the normal things we do in covering campaigns is a background check of the details about the candidate's life, votes, etc. I began building a timeline last November and noticed a few contradictions and several blank spots. I went to the courthouse in Fort Worth to review her divorce files and to the secretary of state's office in Austin to collect other information. At no time did anyone in the Abbott or the Davis campaign give me anything. It was just basic shoe-leather reporting, something I've been doing for 30 years as a political reporter.
I told the Davis campaign I wanted to talk to the candidate about her background. Initially, they said Davis was busy fundraising and we discussed the possibility of my submitting written questions via email. I said I preferred to sit down with the candidate. In January, they gave me a date, I drove to Fort Worth and conducted the interview.
What Slater and the Dallas Morning News did in choosing to reveal the less-than-honest discrepancies from the mouth of Davis cannot be understated – in one swoop, the paper and Slater revealed that the majority of the mainstream media in the U.S. had blindly regurgitated a historical narrative that was false, all for a Democratic political candidate. It further damaged the chances of Davis's becoming Texas governor.
Taking this step could not have been easy for a left-leaning frequent MSNBC guest. The fallout with contacts, other reporters, MSNBC producers, and in his social life must have been severe.
Breitbart News spoke with several conservatives in Texas who have interacted with Slater on a professional level. Their interviews reaffirmed that Slater operates from a place of journalistic integrity.
Texas-based Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak said, “I’ve known Wayne Slater probably eight years and have worked with him a decent amount over that time. While he appears on MSNBC regularly and has a left-of-center reputation, he is, above all, a fair and dogged reporter.” Mackowiak added, “It sounds like he earned this scoop on his own because he did the research, waited for the interview, and asked the right questions.”
Mackowiak agreed with Breitbart News’s analysis of the matter and stated, “This was a courageous story to write; I suspect his social circle in Austin didn’t much care for this story or the political impact it is clearly having.”
Devout Tea Party activist Ken Emanuelson, a Texas-based attorney and founder of the Grassroots Texans Network, told Breitbart News he has been reading Slater's work for some time and that he’s been interviewed by Wayne for a number of pieces. He stated, “While I suspect that Wayne doesn't necessarily see eye-to-eye with me politically, from what I've seen, he's always been fair to me and produced solid journalism – something all too rare these days.”
Emanuelson then told the story of a media firestorm he stepped into when media outlets began selectively editing remarks he had made at a public meeting in June of 2013. He stated, “Wayne covered the story for the Dallas Morning News. The vast majority of the writers covering the story never even attempted to get my side of the story.” He added, “Wayne Slater, being a solid, professional journalist, did. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to connect with Wayne before his piece went up online, but I got my statement to him soon thereafter. Within minutes, my statement was posted, in its entirety, at the top of the original post, allowing me to tell my side of the story.”