Oh the Humanity!
Did you catch the little girl groupie teen-ager act put on by Mary Ann Ahern on NBC as she awaited the arrival of a gosh-gee-whiz celebrity at the University Club Wednesday night? My God she put her 25 or so years as a political reporter aside to project an unabashed pants-wetting ecstatic frenzy waiting for….no, not the Pope, not Donny Osmond, not George Clooney nor Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks but….ohmygod!...Michelle Obama for a Giannoulias fund-raiser. Can anyone tell me what the pop idol excitement for a president’s wife was for? Did NBC Marketing order her to put on that stagey effect?
I’m not through with NBC.
Digression: By the way, I now watch NBC at 6 p.m. and not CBS as used to because CBS used to have a very professional newscast featuring anchor Rob Johnson and reporters like Anne State. Ann State was demoted allegedly because she didn’t know enough about Chicago so she was replaced by an out-of-town woman who knows this city far less. Then Johnson was put on the 10 pm and replaced by two old codgers from the `70s and I mean literally….Walter Jacobson, 73 who’s had a face lift which makes his visage blanched, no smile lines, no creases identical with the face of Hurd Hatfield in The Portrait of Dorian Grey whose expressionless face remained the same while the painting of him aged. Jacobson’s face has all the character of a Cabbage Patch doll’s with seemingly his flabby facial skin pulled up and stapled behind his ears. Then there’s Bill Kurtis, 70 with no evident face-lift but who has all the news reportorial authenticity of the maître `d at the old Pump Room (ah yessir your table’s waiting!).
Digression Continued: Royko used to say toward the end of his life that when he got up every morning he’d look at himself in his bathroom mirror and see ugly-ugly-ugly which is why he enjoyed watching TV news readers—male and female—who were either handsome or pretty and half his age. That goes for me, too. When I look at myself in the bathroom mirror I note only see ugly-ugly-ugly but old age-old age-old-age. Who the hell wants to see two elderly gents of 70 and older reading the news? End of Digession.
NBC is certainly the most politically correct station at the expense of holding back the news to the consumers. Last night at 6 it had the story of Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney’s surname misspelled on the voting screens (not other ballots) put out by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
So believe it or not his ballot listing reads: RICH WHITEY. How was Whitney’s name misspelled? NBC said it was minus one letter but didn’t say which one. The missing letter was “n” which means that in the black community which notices such things more than others it’s a clear no-no as his name appears as “Whitey.” This is a draconian body-blow to Whitney. He has only 2% in the polls but let me tell you he’ll not even get this courtesy of the Board. Question: Was this a real error or one of those “coincidences” that has happened often in Chicago. The labeling of liberal Whitney as “Whitey” is bound to help Old Watery Eyes Quinn.
Our newspapers reported the “whitey” blunder but NBC decided you don’t need to know this.
And in the same newscast, NBC decided there’s another thing you don’t need to know. When Michelle Obama went to cast her absentee ballot she shook hands with a good number of voters and told them she hoped they would help her husband support his program. That was electioneering in a polling place. Michelle, a Harvard lawyer, should have known this. Her electioneering, clearly against the law, was reported in many other venues but shucks NBC decided you shouldn’t bother your pretty little head with details like that.
Bloggers both conservative and liberal were misled the other day showing video illustrating how Rahm Emanuel and his so-called “thug handlers” were impolite to a radio reporter who persisted in asking Emanuel questions like how he was going to handle his residency requirement. The “reporter” was not a journalist at all but our old friend and perpetual Republican candidate Bill Kelly who buys time on WIND for his program and who carried out the ruse of a “reporter.” WIND has pointed out he is not a member of its news staff.
In the past I called Elizabeth Brackett “ Nurse Ratched” because of the uneven way she has handled panels when, as per WTTW’s age-old policy, three members support liberal views and one token is a hapless conservative. A few months ago on the subject of education reform with four members pummeling for more money and one lonely soul supporting vouchers, she took the vouchers guy first. When he started in on his presentation she interrupted and said “ah, er, we’ll get to vouchers later. What other ideas do you have for reform?” He had no significant ones none since vouchers is a landmark reform in itself and could veritably upturn the academic landscape….so she turned to the others who pitched more money and tax hikes to pay for them.
Then with about 30 seconds left she returned to the guy and said—stunningly—“aside from vouchers which you mentioned earlier, what ideas do you have?” God it was the worst case of elitist bias I have seen—even on public television which famously is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Left.
But since then Brackett….whom I remember from her pre-TV days when she ran for Democratic committeeman in the 43rd ward and lost and whose brochure photo of her as a gorgeous blonde added superbly to her political credentials….has verified the expectations of her admirers as a journalist—especially with me, no matter what I had written. First her book on Blagojevich is at once scholarly on politics and Illinois history while being intensely readable. Second, her daily coverage of the Blago trial was the most well-prepared and insight-filled of any. The third reason I have tentatively changed my mind happened earlier this week.
SNAP (Survivors’ Network of Those Abused by Priests) turned out a report that alleged a stunning charge—that 250 Chicago Catholic parishes have had priests accused of pedophilia. That’s almost 60% of the parishes in the area. Now having interviewed earlier the two leaders of SNAP I have had my doubts about their statistics as well as great doubts….make that great big doubts….about their closeness to a Minnesota personal injury lawyer who has made a financial killing on cases which SNAP publicizes. At the time of my interview I asked its two leaders, Barbara Blaine and David Clohessy if the personal injury bar and this guy in particular was a major funder. There was much clearing of throats, evasions and changes of subjects but no answer.
At the same time I have seen first-hand the evasion and systematic parsing that the Chicago archdiocese does with the issue. The most outrageous example of course was then Fr. Dan McCormack who is now doing time in jail and of whom some authorities have blocked his release because in their estimation he is a danger to children. McCormack’s records at Mundelein were either lost or misplaced and before he went to jail he took a vacation with some high diocesan people. Outrageous. Moreover a Sun-Times religion reporter asked the then Rector of Mundelein if he had to do it over would he ordain McCormack again. His answer: Yes. His only concern was that in the seminary McCormack drank too much.
Despite a record and a blunt statement like that, the Rector was promoted to auxiliary bishop. And later he was promoted again to full bishop in a large diocese out west. Finally as bishop he was elected vice president of the NCCB and in the regular order of things will become the president when the current president, the cardinal-archbishop of Chicago who boosted him up the ladder, retires as president.
Back to Brackett. When “Chicago Tonight” scheduled the issue for discussion (as it had every reason journalistically to do) Brackett called around dutifully to get representatives of the archdiocese to appear. Of course the archdiocese declined not wishing to face the music. It turned out a news release saying the statistics SNAP used were wrong—but given the archdiocese’s duplicity in the past, what credence would that hold? Any forthright leadership would have sent a well-informed spokesman to debate SNAP, admit some cases and challenge others. But that would have been courageous which is not in its lexicon on this stuff. Certainly no Catholic organization of laity could responsibly do it without having the ammunition.
In this void, Brackett did a good job of posing questions to SNAP that pinned them down.;…and amazingly as a viewer I felt Blaine was queasy with the facts. In essence Brackett performed a yeoman’s role and for that I salute her.