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Tribune responds to Kirk campaign

Saturday, Sep 26, 2015

[Comments are now open.]

* Lynn Sweet has the Tribune’s full response to Friday’s post here about the Mark Kirk campaign’s preemptive strike against one of the paper’s reporters

Tribune Editor Gerould Kern said in a statement Friday, Kirk’s “campaign and the conduct of his office are subjects of legitimate inquiry, and the Chicago Tribune stands fully behind our reporter, Todd Lighty.”

“We will not comment on unpublished reporting, but we can say that the Kirk campaign has wholly mischaracterized Lighty’s diligence and thoroughness.

“Lighty has been direct, open and honest at all times with the Kirk staff in his reporting. He is a meticulous and professional journalist. Good reporters ask tough questions.

“We will not allow the Kirk campaign to attack unchallenged the professionalism and integrity of Lighty and the Tribune.”

It’s routine for campaigns to dispute negative stories. It’s rare to do it before anything has been published.

* Also, at least one commenter claimed yesterday that Kirk’s campaign sent out a fundraising e-mail about the story. From Kevin Artl…

I noticed some commenters said we pushed out an email on this issue. That’s not true. We did no email or social on it.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 9:08 am:

    Did I miss the Trib article Artl wanted to be in front of with his maneuver?

    Wouldn’t declare victory just yet… I’d probably double check the hatches.

  2. - Tournaround Agenda - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 9:09 am:

    So I noticed the story wasn’t in the Sunday Trib (unless I missed it somehow).

  3. - walker - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 9:15 am:

    We’ll see if the Trib finally backs up its reporter, and the reporting, better than the Sun Times did theirs.

    Openly attacking the press can help in a Republican campaign, Artl also made a slick Rovian move — partially moving the target to his own chest.

  4. - Wensicia - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 9:22 am:

    Maybe this preview by Artl should be titled “Coming Attractions”, like in the movies. Nothing like teasing your audience before release date.

  5. - A guy - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 9:26 am:

    In any case, this story has been altered at the very least. Some version of it is forthcoming I’d guess. Way to early to pick winners and losers. Except that intentionally preempting the splashy version for Sunday with the non-leak, leak to CF had a pretty dramatic effect. Kudos to this blog.

  6. - too obvious - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 9:42 am:

    A new level of corruption.

    A reasonable suspicion is also raised that Kirk operatives could be suborning perjury with the manufacture of phony affidavits.

    And Rich, I have tremendous respect for you. But frankly I think you should be offended that Kirk’s crew thought you would be the place to go to put out this junk.

  7. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 9:43 am:

    I believe that the days of tough journalists finding and reporting stories have evolved into reporters creating and sensationalizing things for a public less interested in facts than in momentary and fleeting representations of what might be a fact. Not true of all, but true of too many.

    From what we’ve seen through this blog, the story was a hit piece not supported by facts.

    Hopefully those involved learn from it, and do a more professional and better job going forward.

    Kudos to the campaign for taking nonconventional action.

  8. - DuPage - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 9:49 am:

    Somewhere along the way, the Tribune’s motto of “World’s Greatest Newspaper” has become obsolete.

  9. - Brook Jacoby - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 10:03 am:

    First, I will stipulate that I am a yellow-dog Democrat and no fan of Senator Kirk’s. That said, Lighty’s (and his colleague Stacy St. Clair’s) reporting on the alleged sexual assault by a Notre Dame football player several years ago was so wildly sensationalized and inaccurate that I am on Kirk’s and his campaign’s side on this one. In the Notre Dame case, Lighty’s “reporting” consisted of trumpeting his obvious theory no matter what the facts of the case actually connected of. It sounds like he’s up to similar tricks with Kirk and his campaign.

  10. - Brook Jacoby - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 10:04 am:

    *”consisted of” spell-check got me again.

  11. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 10:04 am:

    ===From what we’ve seen through this blog, the story was a hit piece not supported by facts.===

    … says another ” - Anonymous - “.

    I’m not worried, in about 5 minutes, another ” - Anonymous - ” will explain how bad it is that the Trib didn’t run the piece and when it does run, boy will Kirk be in trouble.

    Give me a break, k?

  12. - Jordan - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 10:11 am:

    Am I wrong to think that when the Kirk folks got wind of the potential story, they might have persuaded, induced or even threatened their former employees to retract their statements?

    It does seem weird that a person would say one thing to the reporter and the complete opposite in an affidavit.

  13. - Just Observing - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 10:26 am:

    === A reasonable suspicion is also raised that Kirk operatives could be suborning perjury with the manufacture of phony affidavits. ===

    Even if this was the case, I don’t think it rises to the level of perjury. I believe, although I could be wrong, that perjury can only be committed in relation to legal proceedings. Even though someone wrote “affidavit” at the top of piece of paper and had a notary stamp it, there’s no law against lying to the press.

  14. - Robert the Bruce - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 12:02 pm:

    ==It does seem weird that a person would say one thing to the reporter and the complete opposite in an affidavit. ==

    “Guy’s a jerk, I’m frustrated, reporter caught me in an open to talk mood.”

    followed by

    “I want a future working for republicans”

  15. - Suburbanon - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 12:28 pm:

    Why should the Trib even publish a story now?

    The backstory and pre-emptive attack from the Kirk camp seems to have more legs and more attention among the inside political baseball crew than a Trib story could ever get now. Anything they publish now will be second guessed and parsed ad nauseam.

    But then again, maybe the Trib wants to stir the pot even further. I just hope they get their next story published before the Kirk campaign has time to react.

  16. - Tournaround Agenda - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 1:06 pm:

    The Trib should publish the story if they believe they have all of their facts in order. So far, we’ve only heard the Kirk campaign’s version of events.

    The story’s still newsworthy if everything checks out. I’m sure its undergoing another round of closer scrutiny right now, unless a higher-up squished it. It’s typically not good journalistic practice to let a campaign kill your story like that. It sets a bad precedent.

    Of course, there’s always the possibility that Lighty didn’t have his house in order, as well. In which case, they’ll probably let it die.

  17. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 28, 15 @ 1:51 pm:

    Um, OW, you are anonamous, actually, right?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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