Wisconsin Watch

From the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

About the show

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that reports on government accountability and quality of life issues, like education, the economy and the environment. It’s more important to us to get the story right than it is to be first and we believe in collaborating, not competing, with other news outlets. Not only can you find our stories on WisconsinWatch.org, but we give all of our reports away for free to hundreds of other news organizations.

We are excited to start sharing our reports in audio form and you can find them wherever you get your podcasts!

Wisconsin Watch on social media


  • A controversial doctor. A disputed abuse diagnosis. Two convicted Wisconsin men say they are innocent.

    May 10th, 2022  |  28 mins 24 secs
    abusive head trauma, child abuse pediatrician, dr. barbara knox, news, wisconsin

    Dakota Black and Joshua Gehde are in prison for homicide after former UW Dr. Barbara Knox accused them of inflicting abusive head trauma on children. They both insist they are innocent. In the latest installment of our series "Flawed Forensics," Wisconsin Watch reporter Brenda Wintrode investigates Knox's findings of "abusive head trauma" — a controversial diagnosis which one New Jersey judge recently described as “junk science.”

  • ‘Blurring of lines’: Private lawyer plays starring role in taxpayer-funded Wisconsin election probe

    April 26th, 2022  |  20 mins 24 secs
    election, election integrity, erick kaardal, michael gableman, news, thomas more society, wisconsin, wisconsin watch

    In this investigation by reporter Matt Mencarini, Wisconsin Watch examines the unofficial — but central — role played by the nonprofit Thomas More Society law firm and its attorney, Erick Kaardal, in the state investigation into Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential election.

  • ‘We’ve got to get gaming out of our blood’: Pandemic shock pushes Wisconsin tribes to diversify economy

    April 20th, 2022  |  28 mins 57 secs
    casino, gaming, ho-chunk nation, indian country today, news, tribal economy, wisconsin

    In this story by reporter Mario Koran, Wisconsin Watch takes a look at how Wisconsin tribes are contemplating a future beyond gaming after the pandemic showed a risk of overreliance on casinos. This story is part of a collaborative series, “At the Crossroads," from the Institute for Nonprofit News, Indian Country Today, Wisconsin Watch and eight other news partners, examining the state of the economy in Indian Country.

  • The history of Lyme disease has a Wisconsin chapter. It’s still being written.

    April 5th, 2022  |  6 mins 53 secs
    chronic lyme, lyme, lyme disease, ticks, wisconsin

    In this latest installment of our series "Living with Lyme" Wisconsin Watch reporter Zhen Wang explores Wisconsin’s key role in the discovery and ongoing research into Lyme disease.

  • Doctors debate, patients suffer: The fight over chronic Lyme disease in Wisconsin

    March 28th, 2022  |  24 mins 32 secs
    chronic lyme disease, lyme, lyme disease, news, tick, wisconsin

    In this story, Wisconsin Watch reporter Zhen Wang profiles Maria Freitas, a woman who for years has suffered from joint pain, brain fog, fever and other maladies. Freitas attributes the symptoms to Lyme disease. But mainstream physicians insist she has rheumatoid arthritis — a diagnosis that she said does not explain many of her symptoms. It's part of Wisconsin Watch's series: "Living with Lyme."

  • ‘I don’t know what will happen’: After months at Ft. McCoy Afghan family resettled in separate states

    March 16th, 2022  |  22 mins 23 secs
    afghan, afghanistan, evacuee, ft. mccoy, news, resettle, rockville, wisconsin

    In this story, Wisconsin Watch reporter Zhen Wang profiles an Afghan evacuee family who was resettled in separate states after a months-long stay at Wisconsin’s Fort McCoy — illustrating major challenges within resettlement agencies to help evacuees start their new lives. The story follows the Nabizada family as they seek housing, jobs and food — while applying for permanent residency.

  • Embattled former UW child abuse pediatrician resigns Alaska position

    February 1st, 2022  |  7 mins 26 secs
    alaska, anchorage daily news, child abuse pediatrician, dr. barbara knox, false accusation, news, wisconsin

    Wisconsin Watch brings you the latest news about former University of Wisconsin pediatrician, Dr. Barbara Knox. On Jan. 27th, Knox resigned from her position leading Alaska’s forensic child abuse clinic — days after Wisconsin Watch and the Anchorage Daily News reported on a couple who lost custody of their two young children after Knox wrongly diagnosed their 3-week-old baby as being abused.

  • ‘We were robbed’: Alaska couple loses custody of kids after erroneous abuse diagnosis from former UW doctor

    February 1st, 2022  |  19 mins 57 secs
    anchorage daily news, child abuse pediatrics, dr. barbara knox, false accusations, flawed forensics, news, wisconsin

    In our latest installment from our series "Flawed Forensics," we feature a Fairbanks, Alaska, couple accused of abusing their 3-week-old daughter, prompting authorities to remove baby Izabel and her 18-month-old brother Ezekiel from their parents. Experts hired by Emilly and Justin Acker found former University of Wisconsin child abuse pediatrician Dr. Barbara Knox’s diagnosis of abusive head trauma was wrong and ignored Izabel’s serious birth injuries. A forensic psychologist found Emily Acker no danger to her children — and a judge agreed.

  • Wisconsin debates cash bail changes in wake of Waukesha parade tragedy — as some states ditch system entirely

    January 26th, 2022  |  18 mins 9 secs
    bail, bond, cash bail, criminal justice, darrell e. brooks, news, pretrial detention, waukesha, wisconsin

    Wisconsin Watch brings you a story about a revived debate surrounding cash bail after Darrell E. Brooks was released from jail while facing charges related to domestic violence — just days before he allegedly drove through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing six people and injuring dozens.

  • MATC broadens access for Milwaukee students amid historical inequities, dropping enrollment

    January 11th, 2022  |  24 mins 15 secs
    broken ladder, community college, education, milwaukee, milwaukee area technical college, news, wisconsin

    Wisconsin Watch reporter Mario Koran explores how Milwaukee Area Technical College offers free tuition, debt forgiveness and early credit to make college more affordable and more available to a diverse student population.

  • ‘This is a charade’: GOP senator, voting experts urge Wisconsin Republicans to halt election attacks

    January 7th, 2022  |  10 mins 42 secs
    democracy, democrats, election, gop, news, republicans, wisconsin

    Wisconsin Watch reports on how Senator Kathleen Bernier, the majority caucus vice chair, urged members of her own party to halt their attempts to discredit the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission they created, while also calling on former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to finish his partisan review of the election soon.

  • Wisconsin state parks battered as Lake Michigan shrinks beaches, smashes boardwalks

    January 3rd, 2022  |  14 mins 55 secs
    climate change, door county, door county pulse, environment, imperiled shores, lake levels, lake michigan, new news lab, news, wisconsin

    In the third installment from Wisconsin Watch's series "Imperiled Shores," reporter Mario Koran explores a fundamental question facing the state Department of Natural Resources: Preserve parkland affected by rising lake levels or let nature take its course?

  • Wisconsin caregiver spent eight years, $250,000 in legal bills to exonerate herself from abuse charges

    January 3rd, 2022  |  14 mins 23 secs
    criminal justice, dr. barbara knox, false accusations, flawed forensics, health, justice, news, stacy hartje, welfare, wisconsin

    In this report, Wisconsin Watch presents a story about a Mauston, Wisconsin child care provider who was subjected to a lengthy and expensive ordeal to clear her name after she was wrongfully accused of child abuse by Dr. Barbara Knox. The story is the latest installment of our investigation into the former University of Wisconsin pediatrician whose controversial diagnoses of child abuse continue to reverberate for innocent caregivers and parents in southern Wisconsin.

  • Child abuse cases sparked by Dr. Barbara Knox rejected by Wisconsin judge, jury and prosecutor

    December 15th, 2021  |  13 mins 49 secs
    dr. barbara knox, false accusations, news, wisconsin

    In this episode of our "Flawed Forensics" series, Wisconsin Watch explores how the criminal justice system has repeatedly rebuffed the medical opinions of the former University of Wisconsin child abuse pediatrician Dr. Barbara Knox, and tells the stories of families who were affected by her misdiagnosis of child abuse.

  • Parents recount terror of wrongful child abuse diagnoses from former University of Wisconsin doctor

    December 10th, 2021  |  22 mins 29 secs
    dr. barbara knox, false accusations, news, wisconsin

    In the latest installment of our "Flawed Forensics" series, Wisconsin Watch tells the story of seven Wisconsin families that faced child abuse investigations triggered by University of Wisconsin child abuse pediatrician Dr. Barbara Knox — suspicions later rejected by other doctors, police and child welfare officials.

  • Mass exodus at Alaska child abuse clinic as former Wisconsin doctor accused of bullying, misdiagnoses

    November 30th, 2021  |  17 mins 31 secs
    alaska cares, barbara knox, false accusations, news, wisconsin

    In this addition to our series "Flawed Forensics," Wisconsin Watch tells more of the story of Dr. Barbara Knox. Two years after leaving the University of Wisconsin amid allegations of workplace bullying, the former top child abuse pediatrician is drawing similar scrutiny at her new job in Alaska.