Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Personal Asides: At Least One Rationale for the Amy Jacobson Dip in an Alleged Killer’s Swimming Pool…News Flash: The “Sun-Times” is “Returning to Our Liberal…Roots”!



A friend reminded me…and now that I think about it I agree with him…there’s a good explanation for the story that broke yesterday about Channel 5 NBC Chicago reporter Amy Jacobson swimming in a backyard pool of Craig Stebic, the estranged husband of a missing Plainfield woman…and not the one that the wise-guys are smirking about. I don’t know Jacobson or Stebic, of course, but it strikes me that the difficulty…which got Jacobson fired…amounts to the difference between boys and girls. I’ll bet the $15 Timex watch I’ve been wearing since 1989 that she is a hotdog journalist who has been trying to get a national news break by cozying up to the family.

The difference between boys and girls in the news industry is this. A guy journalist can fraternize all he wants with Stebic, have a beer with him and probe his inner thoughts, hoping for the guy to make a slip and allow him to break the case. Dangerous but it’s done a lot. In Minnesota there was a wife killer named T. Eugene Thompson who was walking around free while the authorities were trying to put together a case against him. In that interim a friend of mine from a wire-service…a hotdog…ingratiated himself into Thompson’ good nature and would have drinks with him, sympathizing with his predicament but all the while listening for any clues that would give my friend a national story. The difference here is that Jacobson is a woman…an attractive one from all available evidence…and was probably doing the same thing.

While fraternizing with a murder suspect is, if not common, at least not unheard of in the news business among guys, it is evidently a no-no when a female reporter seeks to become chummy with a murder suspect…for the reason that she is a female and he a male. Yes, swimming in his pool is rather extreme but essentially I will bet this was her intention. I don’t think she should have been fired because of it—a simple reprimand would do. And this hiring a Northwestern journalist professor to look at the tape and talk about ethics is over the top. The only ethics involved should be not to get paid or reimbursed in any fashion for pursuing a story.

If you tell me otherwise and I’m wrong, you can have the 28-year-old Timex.

The Return to Liberalism for the “Sun-Times.”

To a newspaper reader with no sense of history or contemporaneousness…in essence one who is like the central character in “Groundhog Day”…the announcement by the new editorial page director of the “Sun-Times” that henceforth the newspaper will be liberal and of “working class roots” will seem strikingly innovative. But to those with a sense of history beyond the day before yesterday will find Cheryl Reed’s testimony as full of holes as limburger cheese.

First of all, the idea that liberalism is a new departure for the “Sun-Times” is outrageous. Its forebear, the “Chicago Sun” was created by Marshall Field III as a liberal counterweight to the conservative “Tribune.” The Chicago “Times” was always a liberal, Democratic paper. When they were combined….after the “Sun” found it couldn’t compete with the “Tribune” alone…the collaboration became a worthy if not entirely successful competitor. It was a liberal paper for almost all its life except for a brief interregnum when Rupert Murdoch bought it…and had to sell it shortly thereafter for economic reasons. Since then the paper has been outwardly liberal. During the time it was run by the two crooks, it was less liberal but still markedly differentiated from the “Trib.”

After the two crooks, the paper took such a leftwing turn as to jar one’s neck out of its socket. And this during the Steve Huntley reign as the purported…ahem…conservative editorial page editor. There wasn’t a single issue that Huntley espoused as editorial page editor that wasn’t liberal. Not a single one. It endorsed gay marriage, pushed abortion and lefty social issues to the farthest extreme. Now Huntley tells us he has been a conservative all along with the exception of abortion…but his editorials and selection of Op Eds could have fooled us. Let us say that the food editor’s views on economics and runaway free immigration don’t mix well with even certain tenets of responsible liberalism. Father Greeley’s views about God being a woman…his dissent from the Church he publicly flouts to the edification of the paper’s liberals… are never conservative and often weird. Jesse Jackson writing that whitey has to do more to help him and his fellow victims is not only abjectly liberal but denunciatorily so…insisting that whitey has to do more to help us poor blacks!

And now the paper is going to strike off on another tack and become…gasp…liberal?

That is why this writer has continued to accurately describe it during the Cruickshank-Cooke era as the “Democratic party’s newspaper of record.” It has become the uptown edition of the “Reader”…once sans the soft porno, now with it thanks to Brother Cooke. And Ms. Reed tells us that she is now going to make it a liberal paper! Messrs. Cruickshank and that arbiter of good taste Cooke told her not to be “conservative.” Well, she won’t she’ll be liberal. But pray tell what will you do to distinguish it from the Huntley regime—endorse out and out infanticide, make homosexual appreciation mandatory in the schools…an income tax hike and an immediate pull-out from Iraq? How can she do that and reflect the blue-collars who by all odds have been the ballast of traditionalist society?

Ms. Reed has an impossible assignment. If she wants to make it a working class newspaper instead of the version of the “National Enquirer” which thanks to Cooke it is today, she’ll run into trouble if she makes it more liberal. Working class is not liberal. Rhapsodizing over who has mammary enlargements is not working class. If she will make it working class, she should hire a full-time columnist like the paper once had—Dennis Byrne—whom they let go for unspecified reasons in their so-called “conservative” mode. She would have the paper endorse working class, union-oriented issues, but also traditional social ones, probably take a conservative tack on immigration, lead a fight to lower property taxes for the working class in Chicago, oppose Daley’s abuse of TIFs and give a searching look to the Olympics boondoggle by taking a look first at what it did to…and for…Atlanta…and a greater emphasis on tougher crime control. That’s working class stuff, Ms. Reed. The stuff you’ve inherited is white wine and brie.

Your prescription…suitable for “Groundhog Day”…can’t work. You’ll be back to peddling paperback steamy romances before the leaves start falling. If you’re lucky.


  1. I believe it was the nature of the visit itself more than the gender that shocked people. It would kind of be odd either way with regard to the Stebic story, but a female swimming in the guy's pool, at an apparent pool party, with her children, at first glance, does look way different than a male reporter standing at a bar or eating at a restaurant with a controversial figure for some reason. But would it not also look strange if a male reporter brought his children to the pool or a female reporter was at the bar? She probably was trying to break the story in her own way. I'd like to hear what Dan Curry has to say about this area of ethics.

    I do have a sense of history and contemporaneousness on many things (like most everybody here, thankfully) and think last night's performance on Chicago Tonight was downright bizarre, to say the least. The paper is and has always been liberal; although, as I have stated before, they should get some credit for running columnists such as Mark Steyn, George Will and John O'Sullivan. (And formerly, Tom Roeser.) The Tribune is another story for another day.

  2. Two guys at the Tribune keep me coming back - Sports Editor Dan McGrath the absolute best prose crafter in journalism and Media Critic Pil Rosenthal. Phil gets it right.


    Don Tomas! Once again you hit the nail squarely on the flat noggin of the Chicago Sun Times' Leadership and its prolonged deadman's float in the salty brine of hackery. Cheryl Reed has a tough row to hoe indeed and should brush up on some of Joel Klotkin's brilliant essays - his study of urban planning, demographics and Progressive tin-foil-hat social engineering would be a great start for her. Klotkin points out that Progressives live in essentially childless communities and sneer at the working class as fatter, stupider, and more tasteless than themselves. They do not need to watch the kids from the front porch and can get in the run along the Lakefront, read Granta, and buy through Patagonia.

  3. Tom got it right on the Tribune several months ago, too. There was a series of posts...go back to the archives--I forgot which month but they were an excellent analysis of the situation over there.

  4. TR,
    What if the esteemed Lord Black is acquitted and returns to take back his rightful ownership of the SunTimes?

    Would you be interested in ghost writing editorials for Baron Black demanding an end to abusive prosecution and courts?


  5. Refering to yesterday's query about meatless Fridays, the following is from The St. Anthony Messenger:

    Why Meatless Fridays?

    Q: Where did the law about not eating meat on Fridays originate? When was this changed to Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent?

    A: Already in the fourth century, there was a Church law about abstinence (not eating meat on certain days). Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays were once days of abstinence in the Western Church. By the 12th century, this was required only on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays—to remind Christians that Jesus died on this day. (Later, abstinence was added in connection with a few feasts.)

    The U.S. bishops decided in 1966 to require fasting and abstinence only on Ash Wednesday, the Fridays of Lent and on Good Friday. Earlier that year, Pope Paul VI allowed conferences of bishops to select days of fast and abstinence.

    Why abstain from meat? People like it and notice its absence. Christian fasting regulations once included milk and eggs. Fasting and abstaining show respect for God’s creation by using it more sparingly at times.

  6. ....Frank for checking. I'll let my former "sources of information" know that the New England "influence" is a non sequitur. This is one of the few websites where you can get the facts. Hopefully I will be able to return the favor on something. Oh, that's right...I knew about Eden Ahbez for some reason!

  7. In the 60s and 70s I was among activists who that constantly wanted to get their agenda ... and face ... in the media, whether they had anything newsworthy or not.

    When they had nothing newsworthy, it was not uncommon to arrange for a reporter (or producer, etc) to sleep with someone for the coverage.

    On rare occasions when the activists had a scoop, the favors went the other direction. Drinking with them was nothing.

    Is a well choreographed protest event any different than a crime story when it comes to journalism ehtics ... what an oxymoron.

  8. Beyond journalistic ethics let's ask about personal ethics.

    Craig Stebic quite possibly killed his wife. Would you let your kids swim in his pool?

  9. How revealing: (1) Jacobson gets dumped for going to the house of the estranged husband of a missing woman for a swim without hiding her identity as a reporter; (2) she is filmed -- without her knowledge or consent -- and the images of her in a swim suit are subsequently distributed by competing news organizations; and (3) had she not been widely known as reporter for a local TV news station and pretended to be something else for the purpose of gathering information for an investigation or an investigative report, she would have been compensated without controversy and maybe even recognized for outstanding work.

    Now that's news.