Monday, March 27, 2006

The Sun-Times: Properly Democratic but Tied to Fluff

In other places on this blog I’ve praised the Sun-Times for resolving to be a truly partisan newspaper in the style that papers once were: in this case Democratic…with Lynn Sweet writing admirable liberal copy both in news stories and analysis. But the paper is maimed with so-called hip fluff such as Cathleen Falsani pretending to write a religion column but concentrating instead on the merest of trivialities and spending time on a book that is concerned partially with the spirituality of Hugh Hefner…Carol Marin who is supposed to be a political columnist but who only plays one on TV, “analyzing” as she did Sunday on how “women”—that category she reserves for feminists, pro-aborts and lefties of her ilk (Marin does not recognize conservative women)—react to Rod Blagojevich and Judy Baar Topinka. Whom am I forgetting? Not Sneed who is better at what she does than any other gossip columnist in town. But here’s the point:

The reporter who does a better job covering Chicago city government—better than any other on this or any other paper is Fran Spielman, an expert on Chicago politics and the nuances of urban policy. On certain days she may write a third of the newspaper’s local coverage but is not allowed a column whereas such the following flyweights have: Falsani, Marin, Debra Pickett and, oh yes, Jennifer Hunter (who proves to us that a paper’s trying to be hip doesn’t exclude the publisher from hiring his wife to write editorials along with an occasional column of forgettable pap). It is comforting to see that one thing hasn’t died since I was a journalist 50 years ago—marital nepotism.

Then there is Cindy Richards. Liberal hemophiliac she is like her journalistic sisters, but she brings not the slightest expertise to her advocacy other than, the other day in pushing for higher property taxes, talking to a cab-driver who believes we are due for a race riot. I would much rather hear from the cab-driver first-hand. It is all very well for a Democratic paper to feature Democrats but it would be helpful if they knew something about their subjects. Now about Spielman, she should be a liberal Democrat in order to work for the Sun-Times but very possibly she isn’t. That could be why she has no column and has never been used on “Chicago Tonight” “Chicago Week in Review” and the superb WBEZ program hosted by Steve Edwards since they have a pathology of ignoring conservative ideas. She did make a crack in one of her news stories of Rahm Emanuel owing his soul to Daley—so perhaps that did it. But the paper should forgive her this transgression and recognize that in her field she is the best. If the Tribune knew what it’s doing it would hire her pronto at quadruple her pay and give her a column.

Re: Falsani, if she were even a modestly good liberal Democratic columnist covering religion, she would get on the story of how dissident Catholic pastors are refusing to allow circulation of the proposed marriage amendment in the back of their churches, despite the fact that all Illinois bishops and Cardinal George have written letters supporting it. Falsani could write this and cheer the pastors for standing up to old church authoritarianism. All told, only about 100 parishes have agreed to obey their bishops out of more than a thousand in the state. The rest cower because they fear to appear homophobic by attesting to Christ’s dictum that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Since Falsani isn’t big on theology (except in the book she wrote where she is intrigued about the beliefs of Dusty Baker of the Cubs) she might crib these items on the history of heterosexual marriage—moral conscience as it pertains to the indissolubility of marriage in the Jewish bible; the growth in that testament from the polygamy of patriarchs and kings to Moses’ stricture of monogamy; the evolution of the prophets who tied monogamy to the model of God’s covenant with Israel down through the ages to Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana and Paul’s injunction “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her that He might sanctify her.” She might speculate that with a record like this, the fearfulness of many Catholic pastors is tantamount to spinelessness—but that would be a conservative thought for which she is ill-equipped. She could defend the dissident pastors by saying that they are more progressive than their bishops and hurrah for it.

But it would be a story about religion which, who knows, might spur at least as much interest as the tie-in she made of spaghetti and God as she did in a previous immortal column.


  1. What brought on this eruption about the many perceived failings on the part of Sun-Times columnists?

  2. David, I'm a longtime reader of the Sun Times, and frankly, the paper has fallen apart within the past five years. I was slow to pinpoint why it eventually took me 10 minutes to finish the paper. Their local news is strong, but their columnists are weak. National news is all AP writing. Features like sex therapist columnists are pandering to the perverts.

    Aside from the local reporting and the comics (which are better than the Trib's), what is there to like?