Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Who’s Good at the Tribune?

The Q and A yesterday about the need for a conservative Republican newspaper ala the two they have in New York city, spurred questions on how good the Tribune is anyhow. Answer: Not bad. When I said Denny Byrne was the only social conservative writing for it, I meant doing regular Op Ed’s. Regular columnist John Kass is superb: witty, astute and probably the best analyst of Chicago politics (Fran Spielman of the Sun-Times may well tie him but they don’t give her a column, a hint that she may not be a Democrat in that Democratic newspaper of record…or is it newspaper of Democratic record?)

I find Eric Zorn good, although for different reasons. No conservative, he is nevertheless thoughtful, balanced and a good writer—willing to shatter conventions—particularly on his blog. I think Mary Schmich is a very good writer who has a fine way with words. I’ve become inured to the fact that Clarence Page’s beat is race with a Democratic flavor—but if so, where’s his comment on Rep. Cynthia McKinney? Or doesn’t this crazy lady who claimed George W. Bush knew about 9/11 and shut up about it in order to enrich his Texas buddies rate a negative from one who is usually quick to point out conservative mistakes? (Or did I miss it?)

The film reviewer, Michael Wilmington, is head and shoulders over Roger Ebert who still is dazzled after all these years by Hollywood and can’t escape praising the movies that are cheered by his lefty buddies. Basically, their stable of columnists doesn’t give me fits as do so many of the Sun-Times hipsters. Feminist Carol Marin, who if she knows anything understands the ad absurdum underbelly of television news, took 700 words yesterday to tell us that early back-and-forth mean little in this gubernatorial campaign, sort of publicly responding to a TV producer friend of hers who doesn’t know whom to call to line up an interview with Topinka. Next we’ll have Debra Pickett lunching ala ethnic with Topinka and recycling (perhaps because it will be likely brand new to her) “this hen will produce” line and religion editor Cathleen Falsani exploring the spiritual depths of the state treasurer’s deep trance meditations in Yoga while murmuring “ommmmm”—all before the paper reverts to its pre-ordained stance and endorses Rod Blagojevich. So on balance, the Trib is the paper for grown-ups…but the Sun-Times is still the paper I pick up first.

Why? Maybe it’s because I like the work ethic and am edified by the indefatigable (and my favorite Democratic journalist) Lynn Sweet striving to save the day for Tammy Duckworth in the 6th as she strove yesterday—declaring in an analytic gem that no matter that DeLay’s gone, he still means a whole lot to voters of the 6th district, quoting Sweet’s great and good friend Rep. Rahm Emanuel, that arbiter of clean politics who benefited from city patronage workers in his first run. Also smiling upon Duckworth’s spokesman whom Sweet refers to fondly as Billy Weinberg (or is that his real first-name as is the case with Cardinal George’s Jimmy Lago?) Give Sweet credit that she thinks the Duckworth attack on Roskam’s alleged closeness to DeLay is a little over-the-top—but she says the real test will be what she calls “House ethics rules” to judge both Roskam and Duckworth by. By which she sets us up for a Democratic provision restricting advocacy and free speech which Roskam can’t possibly...and shouldn’t…support. Just so you don’t think Sweet has gone soft, which will happen about a month after Hell freezes over. If Duckworth’s research staff isn’t on top of that vote, they shouldn’t worry—just spend 50 cents for Lynn to tell them.


*: Next-to-the-last observation Msgr. Ignatius McDermott made to me before he died last year at 95. Each of his friends have their particular take on what he meant (I’ll tell you mine sometime).

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