Get in the game, please
Monday, Sep 27, 2010
* Carol Marin is a friend and colleague, so I’m not trying to pick on her today, but I wanted to use something in her column to make a point.
Her Sunday column is about how Rahm Emanuel may have trouble with black voters in a mayoral bid and how multiple black and Latino candidates could divide the field. Then there’s this…
A good part of the reason that the February mayoral primary has sucked all the oxygen from the Chicago-area political scene is the Chicago media’s continued obsession with the topic. Yes, there’s no doubt this is an extraordinarily unique occurrence and a big election with huge consequences.
But the general election is just 36 days away. Every story, every column, every editorial about the micro-turns and twists of Rahm Emanuel, et al is space and time that cannot be used to inform voters of the very real and very critical choices they face on November 2nd.
Illinois is ensnared in one of the worst crises in its history. We have two major party gubernatorial candidates who differ starkly on how to approach our future. We also have a wealthy candidate with a violent and murky past. The nation is mired in its worst economic period since the Great Depression and we have two US Senate candidates and several congressional candidates who need to be more closely examined. The General Assembly is broken and there are several candidates who claim they know how to fix it.
* Meanwhile, we get stories about how Emanuel is really drawn to the idea of running for Chicago mayor, or how Dick Durbin isn’t endorsing Rahm yet, or how Terry Peterson really isn’t Rahm’s campaign chair, or how David Hoffman isn’t running, or how Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s former girlfriend isn’t talking to reporters, or columns about Ald. Sandi Jackson’s side of the story.
* In the past, a frontrunning gubernatorial candidate who received the endorsement of the NRA would be big news in the city. This year? Almost total silence. But just about every angle on Sandi and Jesse’s marital turmoil is in full view.
* Illinois Issues reports that the state is facing a $250 million interest payment on loans to keep its unemployment insurance fund afloat. You won’t see much about that in Chicago, but there were at least ten different stories about Hoffman not running for mayor.
* When they do publish or broadcast stories about state issues, they’re too often fluff pieces. Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s striking magazine cover commands precious ink. The fact that if Bill Brady is elected he will rescind the capital punishment moratorium is all but ignored.
* Yes, they’ll jump on juicy stories like the AFSCME negotiation allegations, but apart from that, we don’t see much else. In its place, we get endless thumb-sucking pieces about Rahmbo and Jesse and Meeks and what it all “means.” The Chicago News Cooperative believes there’s enough interest in those tiny twists and turns to start its own paid newsletter. I wish them nothing but success, but I hope they use some of that newfound cash to help fund some stories about stuff that’s actually important right now.
There is plenty of time to write about Rahm Emanuel’s every burp. But time is fast running out to write about the campaign in front of our very noses…
They haven’t listened yet, and I doubt they ever will. But you can bet a hundred dollars that after this campaign is over they will publish stories and columns about how they regret not covering this race better. Wouldn’t it be preferable if they just started doing their jobs now instead of constantly playing with their shiny new toy?