Bill Ayers, a former radical leader turned academic and school reformer, has never been hesitant to speak his mind.
Although there has been no public response from him since his ties to Barack Obama — the two neighbors served on a charity board together for three years — were brought up during last week's Democratic debate, Ayers said Wednesday that he has a good reason for his silence.
The Chicago Tribune continued today to dance around the party affiliation of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) in its ongoing coverage of the Tony Rezko trial. [See Lyndsi Thomas's March 18 blog post here]
While Blagojevich's party affiliation was not explicitly mentioned, writers Jeff Coen and Bob Secter did note that a former Democratic fundraiser has testified that the governor "linked state contracts, business and favors with the raising of campaign cash." That came 20 paragraphs deep into the 26-paragraph article:
Ali Ata, a former high-ranking Blagojevich administration official, pleaded guilty Tuesday in a separate criminal case involving Rezko. Ata admitted he bought his $127,000-a-year state job by bribing Rezko and making campaign contributions to Blagojevich.
Tuesday's plea by Ata could have significant implications for both Rezko and Blagojevich. Ata becomes the third person to testify under oath that the governor had direct knowledge of Rezko's activities. Both Stuart Levine and former national Democratic fundraiser Joe Cari testified about separate conversations with Blagojevich in which he linked state contracts, business and favors with the raising of campaign cash.
Today's Chicago Tribune carries a frontpage article titled, "Michelle Obama's mission: Show voters humble roots." Mrs. Obama's recollections of how she and her husband not so long ago were deluged with bills and calls from collection agencies have become a major component of the campaign, designed to demonstrate that Senator Barack Obama understands financial difficulties and the folks encountering them. He feels their pain.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's (D-Ill.) name has cropped up quite a few times in the ongoing trial of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) benefactor Tony Rezko. Yet in their latest coverage, both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times left out Blagojevich's party affiliation. The Sun-Times, however, did take note of the Republican party affiliation of another politico caught up in the maelstrom, William Cellini (see screencap at right, photos via AP/Sun-Times).
The caption for a photo montage accompanying the April 3 article "Levine: Blagojevich knew", reads, "Clockwise from left: Gov. Rod Blagojevich; Tony Rezko; Stuart Levine;Chicago businessman-turned-Hollywood producer Tom Rosenberg; longtime Illinois Republican Party power William Cellini."
Tribune staffers Bob Secter and Jeff Coen also covered the development in a story filed shortly after midnight Eastern time on April 3.
Chicago Tribune columnist/ blogger Eric Zorn is a liberal, but from what I'm familiar of his writing, he's not a cartoonishly goofy one. So at first I thought his post today -- Coming out of the dark on Earth Hour -- was a bit of an April Fool's joke. But reading and re-reading it, it became clear to me Zorn was being serious, even as he invoked quasi-religious language to describe his joy in observing the sanctimonious green gimmick (emphasis mine):
Earth Hour was so cool.
I was surprised.
During the buildup, it all sounded a bit earnest to me — reproachful and grim.
If you ask the average man on the street, regardless of his religion, he'd probably tell you that anyone who would disrupt an Easter Mass with a political protest -- complete with stage blood and attempted "die-in" -- is a jerk with little if any reverence for God or the sanctity of a church as a place of worship.
But according to the Chicago Tribune's Manya Brachear the so-called Catholic Schoolgirls Against the War are representative of a "frustrated faction" of Catholic faithful (emphasis mine):
Cardinal Francis George has long opposed politics at the communion rail. But Sunday’s anti-war protest at the start of his Easter homily spotlighted a frustrated faction in the Roman Catholic church who believe committed Catholics must do more than preach and pray for peace.
As the ongoing Tony Rezko trial yields more news of corruption, once again the mainstream media aren't identifying the party affiliation of the Democratic perpetrators. This time, the culprit is the Chicago Tribune in an article regarding a witness testimony that Alderman Richard Mell, father-in-law of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, hoped to receive kickbacks from an insider deal at a state pension fund. The article goes on to describe this new information along with the details of the deal for which Mell hoped.
The Tribune also noted that this finding adds to the "Mell-Blagojevich relationship that has devolved to downright dysfunctional in recent years."
Yet despite running a thirty paragraph article over two pages, the Tribune failed to recognize either Mell or Blagojevich are Democrats.
It's not as salient an issue as Obama's controversial pastor, but this couldn't be good news for the Illinois senator, that is, if the rest of the MSM follow this story.
In a post this morning at The Swamp blog, Mike Dorning of the Chicago Tribune notes earmarks that Democratic presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama inserted in legislation that would have his benefited his wife's hospital:
Among the pork-barrel spending requests Barack Obama has made since arriving in the U.S. Senate is $1 million for the hospital where his wife worked at the time and $8 million for weapons technology made by a big defense contractor with close ties to a major fundraiser.
A few days before Eliot Spitzer went down in flames, a highly-connected Barack Obama* [Update: Kilpatrick has not committed to Obama] superdelegate was mired in accusations of corruption, bid-rigging and a dead-stripper sex scandal. Usually the media love to report the downfall of party bigwigs, but not in the case of Detroit's youngest mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Much of the media downplayed the mayor's scandals and did not report his party, let alone his status as a Democratic power player who can influence the election.
Kwame, who is the son of Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), is not just any mayor. He was a Democratic rising star, who spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and is the superdelegate to the 2008 convention thanks to his position as Vice President of the Conference of Democratic Mayors.
But now “The First Hip Hop Mayor” is in serious trouble, with members of the city council calling for his resignation. Controversy has engulfed his two terms, and the latest bout involves a report that his wife assaulted a now-dead stripper whose shooting is still unsolved. At the same time, the mayor's longtime pal Bobby Ferguson won at least $45 million in city contracts while reportedly receiving inside information from Kilpatrick and his chief of staff.
Obama begins with a broad assessment of life in America in 2008, and life is not good: we're a divided country, we're a country that is "just downright mean," we are "guided by fear," we're a nation of cynics, sloths, and complacents. "We have become a nation of struggling folks who are barely making it every day," she said, as heads bobbed in the pews. "Folks are just jammed up, and it's gotten worse over my lifetime. And, doggone it, I'm young. Forty-four!"
Sheppard said that "Given how (the) media made excuses for her comments in Wisconsin (She said, "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." -- Ed.), it will be quite interesting to see just how much of (the) interview ..... will be reported in the next 24 hours."
Well, Noel, I looked at the next 72 hours, and the answer is, with one enjoyable exception, "precious little":
Former Windy City alderman Dorothy Tillman (D) was recently arrested in Birmingham, Ala., for trespassing, yet in a 27-paragraph article reporting the story, Chicago Tribune's Tara Malone failed to mention Tillman's party affiliation.
Tillman's leftist politics were briefly alluded to in a passing reference to how she was bailed out of jail by a minister who worked with Tillman on the issue of slavery reparations:
Rev. Al Dixon, 79, said he awoke to an early morning call from Tillman. The pair had worked together to seek slave reparations and share a history of involvement with the civil rights movement. When Tillman realized she might be arrested, she called Dixon, who is pastor of Anderson Chapel Ministries.
The media’s tender loving care of and hypersensitivity in protection of Barack Obama is going to put a real crimp in attempts at Obama humor. The latest survey of late-night jokes from the Center for Media and Public Affairs found 18 Obama jokes, about a fourth of Hillary’s (68) and a tenth of President Bush’s (175). Then there’s Saturday Night Live. Chicago Tribune TV critic Maureen Ryan started whining early in the week that Obama should not be impersonated by a white comedian (Fred Armisen). She huffed: "Obama's candidacy gives us solid proof of the progress that African-Americans have made in this country. I guess SNL still has further to go on that front." A reader poll alongside these complaints asked if Obama should be impersonated by an African-American: 74 percent voted for "Doesn’t matter," and a cranky six percent said "no."
But the media elite seems to be in the minority. Friday’s Washington Post carried a story by Paul Farhi further ginning up the "Fauxbama" controversy. He not only carried Ryan’s demand for a black impersonator, but added the radical-left British newspaper The Guardian, which screamed minstrel show:
In the same vein as MSNBC's Chris Matthews, liberal Chicago Tribune blogger Eric Zorn paid tribute to the late Bill Buckley in a February 27 blog post by noting that he idolized the National Review founder when in junior high:
He was one of my idols when I was in junior high. I found his patrician bearing, devastating eloquence and understated, scornful wit thoroughly captivating. His quiet confidence and penetrating intellect were exactly what I aspired to, and it probably helped that very few other kids in the liberal bastion of Ann Arbor were allowed even to utter the man's name in their houses.
My romance with his political outlook was shortlived, though I always found him curious, fair, funny, occasionally surprising and about as open-minded and truly engaging as pundits get. If he was ever a shouter or a name-caller or a race baiter or a taunter, I missed it.
The dean of journalism at Northwestern University seems to have gotten himself in a bit of a sticky wicket, as it were. Apparently, John Lavine, the dean of the Medill School of Journalism, has been indulging in the use of unattributed and unnamed sources in his columns for the Medill alumni magazine and 16 NU journo instructors aren't very happy about it. Not only are they not happy about it, but according to the Chicago Tribune they are demanding that the dean prove that he didn't make his quotes up out of whole cloth.
You know the journalist's favorite source, don't you? It's the "unnamed source," the "anonymous quote" and the famed "deep throat" sources that journalists make out to be "protecting" from discovery. This sort of source has a long history in the kind of journalism of whistleblowers or muckrakers that have been increasingly popular since Watergate. But, everyone knows that you cannot base a factual story solely on the anonymous source. There must be other things, other sources, other proofs backing up these unnamed sources or the fact in question becomes an allegation instead of a proven truth. Naturally, employing unnamed sources too often damages the veracity of any story -- as well it should.
The bad news just keeps coming for the old media, this time for major newspaper publisher the Tribune Company which may see its corporate bonds relegated even lower in the "junk bond" category.
Standard & Poor's Corp. put Tribune Co.'s already junk-rated debt under review for possible downgrade Friday, saying the Chicago-based media company's newspaper publishing group is likely to face further erosion of advertising revenue.
In placing Tribune's corporate credit rating on CreditWatch with negative implications, the debt-rating concern cited "our expectation that the rate of decline in advertising revenue at Tribune's newspaper publications may not improve appreciably and may worsen over the intermediate term."
Yesterday my colleague Noel Sheppard noted that some Anglican bishops are urging their flocks to go "carbon" free during Lent. Along the same eco-insanity line, Chicago Tribune's religion blogger Manya Brachear submitted a post on Tuesday wondering if there's a "moral obligation" that Catholic priests have to urge their parishioners to go "fishless" or vegetarian on Fridays given concerns about mercury contamination:
Roman Catholic bishops once urged parishioners to observe meatless Fridays as a year-round act of penance. Since Vatican II, bishops have upheld meatless Fridays only during Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. The only exception is fish, prompting an annual run on seafood markets and a slew of fish fries in place of church potlucks.
But the dangers of eating tuna and swordfish, which scientists say is loaded with mercury, might be more flagellation than bishops had in mind. With Lent beginning Wednesday, should clergy encourage their flock to give up certain kinds of fish or go vegetarian?
For personal and professional reasons, it gives me absolutely no pleasure to say that I saw this coming, and that it came sooner than I thought it would.
Here's the news, assembled from wire reports by the Cincinnati Enquirer, in an article that should be entitled "Ford to Workers: Go Away" (bolds are mine throughout) --
Ford Motor Co. will offer buyout and early retirement packages to 54,000 U.S. hourly workers, or 93 percent of its hourly work force, in an effort to cut costs and replace those leaving with lower-paid workers. Thursday's announcement came as Ford said it narrowed its losses in 2007 but warned that the outlook for U.S. sales in 2008 remains grim.
In a post to his Change of Subject blog, Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn practically pressed Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to go further than just stopping short of calling former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) liars:
Why stop short? The Clintons are lying about Obama's remarks on Reagan
(Barack) Obama stopped just short of calling (Hillary) Clinton and her husband liars... from the Swamp's live blog of last night's Democratic debate.
Hmm. I see no reason to stop short. Bill and Hillary Clinton have lied brazenly about Obama's recent statement about Ronald Reagan.
Zorn then turned to comments from both Clintons and an extended transcript of Obama's remarks to give readers a full and fair context for those remarks. Zorn got to the heart of the matter by concluding that the Clintons are hoping to tap residual left-wing hatred of Reagan even though they should and likely do know that the Gipper's political prowess offers lessons for Democrats, even if they lay asunder his policy goals (emphasis mine):
Since the media have promised the anti-war left really do support the troops, wouldn't it be news that an anti-war, self-described "radical leftist" was in court on Friday for angrily keying the car of an Iraq vet because he didn't like the military plates and USMC stickers?
Jay Grodner keyed a $2400 side-to-side gash into Sgt. Mike McNulty's car. When confronted, Grodner berated McNulty, who was getting ready to redeploy to Iraq, with anti-military epithets, even telling the Marine he was too “small” to be a “soldier" (sic).
Milblogger Blackfive wrote about the lack of media coverage (bold mine throughout):
Chicago Tribune Washington bureau Economics Correspondent and The Swamp blogger Frank James took inspiration from some recent comments from Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), although liberals are likely to not be fond of the result.
James posted a photo (pictured at right) of President Ronald Reagan signing a 1983 law designating the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday:
Given the New Hampshire comments by Sen. Hillary Clinton about it taking a president to make dreams a legislative reality, for which she was excoriated by some of Sen. Barack Obama's supporters, and Obama's Nevada comments about Reagan being a transformational president, for which he was castigated by Sen. Clinton, her husband former President Bill Clinton and others, this seemed like an appropriate photo to run today.
Reagan Presidential Library photo via Chicago Tribune.
Chicago Tribune Public Editor Timothy J. McNulty addressed reader discontent over his paper's decision to include in its January 6 paper that week's syndicated Parade magazine insert featuring an outdated cover story and interview with the late Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. The story was written and the magazine published days before Bhutto's murder.
McNulty shared some reader e-mails as well as feedback from Tribune editors, making a point to emphasize that the Trib has no control over Parade's editing nor publication schedule and that the Trib did include an editor's note in the paper about the outdated nature of the Parade insert.
But while McNulty did a good job dealing with this particular controversy, he failed to look at a larger issue that the Parade incident fleshes out: the logistical and editorial weaknesses of traditional print media in a 24/7 news cycle, and how that could push more news consumers away from print and towards online media.
Forget the label "old media," the Parade distribution model in this case seems jurassic, woefully outdated given the nature of the modern news cycle, and particularly so if the Sunday magazine wishes to report on anything of global political import rather than say Hollywood fluff.
Because the Trib's handling of the matter seems ham-handed, it also calls into question the relevance and reliability of newspaper print editions in an unforgiving, 24/7 media universe that's becoming more and more dominated by Internet-based media.
The oldest trick in the book in the "news" biz is to take a photo of a politician that makes him look worried, sad, or downcast to offset a story of how things aren't working so well for that pol's policies or plans. Well, the Chicago Sun-Times has used that ages old trick to lambast president Bush's "No Child Left Behind" program by giving us the stories of several Illinois students that supposedly slipped through the cracks of the Federal program and using a picture of Bush with furrowed brow with inset pictures of the several students. Of course, their stories are expectedly filled with nonsense, but it is the photo that the Sun-Times really expects to tell the tale. This photo says "failure and he knows it" all over the thing and sets the tone of bias from the start.
The Sun-Times starts out to lower our expectations of Bush's policies:
It looks like a wayward hippie from Haight-Ashbury circa 1967 found himself a time machine and came forward to 2008 and barricaded himself in the editorial room of the Chicago Sun-Times today. To celebrate this magical feat, the Sun-Times has gathered together all their best thinkers and, guided by their time leaping hippie, they've decided to advocate a little tonic for the New Year: Have more sex in 2008. But, man, let's not bring us all down with talk of marriage, commitment, and morality, shall we? No, cast off that morality talk. Have sex because it "makes you younger."
A close adviser and chief fundraiser to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was indicted on fraud charges. Yet if you read about the story in the Chicago Tribune, you won't read which party the governor belongs to. That's right. Blagojevich is a Democrat, yet the Trib didn't bother to include this fact in their piece.
Meanwhile, Bryan over at Hot Air showed how the Kansas City Star reported the resignation of Kansas's attorney general following a sex scandal. The original article completely omitted Paul Morrison's Democrat affiliation. Only after a phone call to the writer of the article did the Star amend the article by adding the word "Democrat" to the fourth paragraph.
I'll be live-blogging the press conference (mostly just the questions from the journalists as we're focused on the bias) and if a video update is warranted, we'll post one shortly after the conference concludes:
10:44 closes press conference, leaves podium.
10:41: Mark Silva, Chicago Tribune, says reading Bush's body language he can tell he's "somewhat dispirited." Then he says "the facts have failed you" on things he's telling the American people. Quotes Harry Reid. "Are you feeling troubled... credibility gap?"
10:37: unid'd reporter "Wolf" asks about if Bush's personal relationship with the Democrats in Congress is affecting getting legislation through.
10:35: another unid'd reporter named "Wolf" asks Bush to react to 2008 U.S. presidential race
10:35: reporter asks if he discussed Russian elections with Putin
10:33: unidentified reporter asks Bush if in his conversation with Putin if he asked him to not sell uranium to Iran.
10:30: Baier, Fox News: "What does the vote in Venezuela mean for the U.S.? .... What's your reaction to Chavez opponents winning?"
Perhaps seeking to paint a sympathetic portrait of a woman charged with illegally voting in a federal election before naturalizing as a U.S. citizen, the Chicago Tribune's Antonio Olivo buried the lede in his story, "Citizenship in sight, but then she voted."
In the midst of lamenting the plight of one Beth Keathley, Olivo uncovered concerns about so-called motor-voter registration and how it can lead to non-citizens successfully registering to vote, although doing so is against the law. Of course, this information didn't start to come to light until the 10th paragraph in Olivo's story, well after he mentioned how a deportation could tear Keathley from her 9-month-old daughter (emphasis mine):
You know the drill. An elected Democrat gets in trouble with the law, and the party label might as well be in the witness protection program when it comes to some reporters at the AP. Now, in this particular case the infraction is minor --a traffic violation bearing a $75 fine -- but all the same writer Carla K. Johnson left out a Chicago congressman's party label in her November 23 story:
CHICAGO (AP) — An Illinois congressman said he was a victim of racial profiling when police gave him a traffic ticket alleging he swerved over the center line.
U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, who is black, said he will go to traffic court to challenge the $75 ticket given to him early Monday by two white officers.
"I'm not one of these people who cry racism," Davis told The Associated Press on Friday. "I'm a person who believes in hard work and follows the rules."
It is understandable, but not forgivable, that business reporters at Old Media newspapers might think that the economy is in bad shape. They first have to get past how poorly most of their employers are doing. The industry as a whole has not been doing well, and it's been that way for quite some time.
This table illustrates that point (September 30, 2007 figures are at this post, which originally came from this Editor & Publisher article, which will soon disappear behind its firewall; March 31, 2005 figures were estimated in reverse using annual percentage changes reported as of March 31, 2006, because older data I thought would remain available no longer is):