Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Short Takes...Maybe Some Re-Takes.

In my opinion, no TV coverage of the Ryan conviction could touch WLS-TV Channel 7. Chuck Goudie first broke the story of licenses for bribes scandal and took understandable proprietorship of it. At a time when TV journalism appears to be faltering, Goudie, probably the best TV investigative reporter in city history, has honed his skill to a fine art. Also the guest experts they had on—I must confess I don’t have their names at hand as I write this—were outstanding and topped those of any other station. The former federal prosecutor on 7 was particularly good; the jury selection expert, a woman, was a good match for him. Brilliant job. WGN-TV didn’t come on until somewhat later which should be unforgivable although it redeemed itself partially by having Meredith Viera on with “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” Still the station wasn’t up to par on its coverage as were the others. What do you think?

The Sun-Times’ religion editor, Cathleen Falsani finally came up with a thoroughly readable and interesting Sunday story on the various translations of the Bible. No frills, no kid stuff peace talk: just good writing and reporting. Agreed?

Also, in my estimation TV anchors are not necessarily blow-dried and superficial. Mary Anne Childers is one who while a looker (I am too old to be bothered if you think me sexist: I use the word anyhow) conveys the political savvy of an educated, sophisticated news presenter who can handle any emergency because she’s been around: knows politics (I believe) and is probably as good a TV version of the brilliantly journalistic Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman, male or female, as there is. Do you agree? Would those involved in TV journalism give their opinion by using, if they wish, anonymity? Distinguish yourself from other opinions by calling yourself Insider.

Watching George Ryan commenting after the trial with his studied remark that he found the verdict “disappointing” made me think that he was sleep-walking. You get sentenced for the rest of your life to jail and you find it disappointing? I had the idea that the full weight of the verdict hadn’t hit him yet: a minimum of twenty-two years in the can for a man 72 years old. Agreed?

Of all the players in that drama, I find Lura Lynn Ryan the most pathetic. She looks frail and I wonder how she’s going to make it. I can’t fault her for going on TV earlier trying to sway the jury: she’s doing what a good wife would do. I do wonder about the vapidity of Carol Marin’s earlier column zinging the old lady for wearing `50s makeup and hair-style reminiscent of what Marin’s mother and aunt wore. Lura Lynn is an old lady. Com’on, Marin. Would you have her wear net stockings and a bouffant? What do you say?

I would like seasoned state government veterans—or ex-state employees with experience working in political offices—write this Blog to give me their interpretation of the conviction…to this extent: Did Ryan, as I maintain, break old and longstanding rules that were illegal even in the good old days: giving favoritism to pals, favoring certain bidders et al. Or are the things Ryan did represent a break from the old style of governance. Yes, I know Edgar and all the other secretary of state incumbents were never indicted: but was that because they were not as venal as George, not as obtuse, not as thumb-their-nose at ethics as he undeniably was? Or, is this an entirely new era with future secretaries of state guarded against intrusion of almost any politics in their office? See, I am somewhat of the old school: enough to have worked in Congressional offices, governor’s office, having started one federal agency and the Peace Corps. But George re-wrote the book regarding trough snuffling and piggishness. I recognize that an office which is set up to be political by the state constitution should not be run entirely with civil servants. There’s a place for patronage and preferential hiring for political purposes without the wild-eyed reformers going berserk, recognizing that in some public service jobs presided over by elected officials: when you purify the pond the lilies die.

In other words, I can understand, appreciate and believe the state and nation benefits from a well-run political office. To me, ethics and morality should not repeal the political nature of an office that the constitution has ruled should be run by an elected person. He/she has to have aides who are loyal to the post as well as its political nature. I don’t know whether or not Mike Lawrence reads this Blog but I would think an intelligent, well-reasoned analysis from him would be timely. I always respected him when he worked for Edgar both as secretary of state and governor and because he comes from a solid journalistic background and now teaches public policy. I can’t call him now because I’m late but if anybody bumps into him, would you ask him to jot down a few paragraphs and send it this way? Thanks.

Ah, you thought you’d get away without reading about the Catholic Church—but too bad. After having interviewed the SNAP people and reporting on them in general favorable terms, I still can’t understand why they don’t comprehend the nature of the archdiocese they criticize (and in many ways rightly). First, Barbara Blaine doesn’t seem to care a fig whether or not priests are archdiocesean or of a religious order: she complains that the archdiocese has not released all the names of the offenders. Com’on, Barbara: you, as a Catholic should know that so-called order priests—Benedictines, Franciscans, Jesuits, Passionists, Dominicans—are not under the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Chicago and consequently the records absolutely are not available to the chancery. Only archdiocesean priests report to the chancery. Your getting angry and accusing the chancery of cover-up isn’t kosher, to mix a metaphor. Incessant carping that the archdiocese is not forthcoming is analogous to condemning, let us say, the Quaker Oats company for not possessing statistics that belong to General Mills…

Second, in a list published yesterday by the Tribune there are names of priests long since deceased who cannot defend themselves. Third—and this is stunning—there are names of priests who have been involved, purportedly in adult consensual relationships! These offenses then are moral and spiritual but certainly not illegal—nor do they represent in any manner breakage of the law.

1 comment:

  1. Tom,
    I didn't get a chance to write sooner, but I wanted to tell you I thought you did a great job with analysis of the Ryan trial and verdict (Failing Private Ryan.)

    I sent a link to your site to several friends and encouraged them to visit your site and read the report your posted.

    Keep up the good work. And, for my two cents, write as much as you wish about the Catholic Church. It's your site.