Monday, April 20, 2009

Personal Aside: The One-Party Kept Press in Illinois.


The Kept Press.

It’s clear that the media want desperately to defeat Todd Stroger with Forrest Claypool in order to prevent what they regard as a great tragedy—the likelihood that new Republican Paul Vallas will knock him off in the general. These are the same media types who fail…with one notable exception… to pin culpability for inventing the monster Blago where it belongs—on the twin Doctors Frankenstein…Richard M. Daley and Mike Madigan working with their wacko assistant, Lurch aka Dick Mell. Madigan admitted that the worst Democrat is to be preferred to the best Republican. Media do not find that view necessarily wrong. Like him, media…with one notable exception… do not want Republicans to win or ti govern anything. Governance should be owned by the Democrats.

Democrat Blago was the worst governor of modern times …but the two Doctors Frankenstein continued to support their monster even in the tough times…better him bankrupting the state and violating the law than have him defeated by a (gasp!) Republican. Media…save for one important exception…hold the Twins blameless because media believe government belongs in Democratic hands. Thus there is no onus attributed by media to (a) Pat Quinn having run as a partner and beneficiary to Blago and now raising his eyes to heaven as the sainted successor…(b) Daley and Madigan having supported Blago for reelection…and (c) Lisa Madigan having signed on to reelect Blago in 2006. Media—with one notable exception-- regard all this as natural and not blameworthy because there not to do so would help Republicans.

Media with one notable exception believe Democratic corruption is preferable to Republican governance. For proof: look around at the coverage. Do media blame Democratic leaders Daley and Madigan for Blago? Nope. (In 2006, my position was that any Republican would be preferable to Blago…except Topinka who would swiftly destroy the party and make it impossible to support a view counter to liberalism so long as she held sway…a view I still hold, by the way). Refusing even to consider liberal governance run by a Republican, media held their nose and preferred Blago. See: they are not at all different than Daley and Madigan in their support of one party politics! Thus they did not raise a finger to help Topinka because they are as committed to the Democrats as are Daley and Madigan.

On the county board presidency run last time, media supported the Toddler for election because they could not abide thinking that the county board presidency be controlled by a Republican, Tony Peraica. In this they agreed with their favorites Claypool and Mike Quigley: they favored The Toddler. Now with the Cook county board presidency, media are eager to see Forrest Claypool defeat the Toddler because were Toddler to be nominated, chances are improving that he would be defeated by Republican Vallas. That possibility media cannot abide. With the U. S. Senate, media are eager to see Roland Burris knocked off in the primary…by Alexi Giannoulis or anyone…so that a Republican doesn’t win.

There is one major exception to this generality on the media, of course…one columnist—the best of them all-- who sees the stakes clearly…but he is not held highly in favor by the general run-of-the-mill down-the-line-Democratic-no-matter-what media.

This is a sea change with the media since the time I have been around…roughly sixty of my eighty years in or very close to journalism….in two states. Things have changed in both states, I find. In my time working media have always been liberal (largely) but willing to support liberal Republicans on occasion to achieve liberal ends. Who? The governor whose campaign I ran in Minnesota—more progressive than his opponent. Rockefeller in New York, Lindsay in New York. Percy in Illinois. Ogilvie in Illinois because he had big statist intentions. Bernie Carey for states’ attorney repeatedly. Jack O’Malley pretty consistently.

You don’t find cases like that today at all here ever. Nada. I don’t mean editorial endorsements which these days carry very little weight. I mean among the working press. Give you a couple of examples. Old line political columnists, John Dreiske of the Sun-Times and Charlie Cleveland of the Daily News had their liberal Republican favorites. Tagge of the Tribune had his friendship with Old Man Daley. Trohan of the Tribune’s Washington bureau knew Jim Farley.

Those days are over. Nowadays the door to media approval is shut to any Republican hopeful, no matter how liberal, no matter how reformist. Media prefer their reform Democratic and wink understandably when reformers bow to the inevitable, the most corrupt party in the nation. That’s because media today are one party. Why? It began about 15 years ago and was sealed with the Obama victory last year. But even beyond that, because of the massive growth of liberalism in the journalistic profession, the view is just like the one Mike Madigan darkly hinted: the worst, most corrupt, rottenest Democrat is to be preferred to the best Republican.

Increasingly, the result is that…with one powerful exception…political journalists here are not convincing anyone. Who can possibly think Carol Marin is the equal—or even a third of the worth—of the late Steve Neal? Who cares what she thinks anyhow? Or Mary Schmich? Or Eric Zorn? Who can remember any Republican Marin supported? I can think of quite a few Neal supported. Who can think that anyone at the Tribune…with one powerful exception…is equal to the weight of a Neil Mehler or a Dick Ciccone? Not to even mention a George Tagge. Who can think that anyone on the boob tube today has the authenticity of a Len O’Connor? Who can think that anyone of the cardboard persona at WTTW-TV…what’s his name: Ponte, Ponce,Ponce? are as influential as John Callaway? Who can imagine that Lynn Sweet as knowledgeable as she is about Democratic politics gives a good damn rap about Republicans? Probably the only one extant of any bipartisan analytical flavor is Steve Huntley…but he’s a relic of the old journalistic past.

The older political journalists were all liberals but at least could be seen to favor a few Republicans. Not this group…with one powerful exception. They are bleating sheep following the Democratic ram horn…and constitute the least effective era for journalism in modern U.S. history.

The tea parties are a case in question. Not only did the two papers here shove it aside, I now find something that in my lamentable 80 year old innocence I did not perceive. Take one major cable network. Its top anchor is noted for insisting his personal life be private. No intrusion into his personal habits. All well and good. But he doesn’t leave things that way. In blasting the anti-tax tea-parties the other day, he couldn’t resist sending a message by code to the gay community that only it understood. Thus he wants it two ways: one to be regarded as a private person…two to be regarded by his supposed fellows as an advocate: the Silver Fox. So what we have here is a war not just for one party and strident liberalism—but a war to change the 2000-year-old culture: obvious by the language he used which after I had it interpreted I see him as an active combatant.

He’ll lose, though. His network is not just out of the running: it’s fourth, running behind even an auxiliary it had created. Conservatives and Republicans have learned how to win without his ilk or other so-called “major” journalist big-footed ones.

And I don’t mean to leave this fight until we win. So I’m taking out a good many multi-year magazine renewals. So sorry laddies.


  1. I agree with much of your assessment. As to Steve Neal, what I most remember about him was his strident support of Blagojevich from the start, cheering his "strong campaign". I also remember his constant berrating of Sen. Peter Fitzgerald for being "obstructionist" and not going along. I do not in any way miss his views.

  2. Thomas:
    your reporting on the media is accurate and they are a shameful lot.
    They cathart over Obama and despised Peter Fitzgerald and PF was the one real reformer. Even the big wigs in the GOP didn't like him. The press, with the exception of John Kass, has done us no favors.

  3. "In 2006, my position was that any Republican would be preferable to Blago…except Topinka who would swiftly destroy the party and make it impossible to support a view counter to liberalism so long as she held sway…a view I still hold, by the way."