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Report: Tribune relationship with Illinois Policy Institute columnist “under review”

Friday, Sep 30, 2016

* Mike Miner at the Chicago Reader writes about the upcoming Illinois Policy Institute “documentary” featuring, among others, Tribune columnist John Kass and Tribune editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis

I’d asked the Tribune’s editor, Bruce Dold, what he thought about his page-two columnist and editorial cartoonist showing up in Madigan’s partisan arena. He sent me a prepared statement, and in it he didn’t sound happy.

“Tribune journalists should not be involved in activities of outside organizations that could give the appearance of partisanship,” Dold wrote. “John and Scott understand that they should not have agreed to be interviewed for this film, even if they were expressing views they have published in the course of their work for the Tribune.”

An interesting wrinkle is that Rickert writes occasional op-ed columns for the Tribune; she’s a smart, pugnacious writer, and Dold began publishing her years ago when he was the Tribune’s editorial editor. Like Rickert, Stantis didn’t want me to interview him, but unlike Rickert he replied and said so. I wanted him to tell me whether he’d have any problem sharing his paper’s editorial pages with the spokesperson and chief defender of the outfit he accused of deceiving him.

Then again, will he go on sharing those pages? Will the Tribune have any problem with continuing to publish Rickert? That relationship is now under review.

No word on what Dold thought of this event last year.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Reality Check - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 9:32 am:

    How about this:

  2. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 9:41 am:

    That McQueary lives the IPI too.

    I guess Dold has to pretend Kass and McQueary actually ARE professional journalists.

    That’s fun!

  3. - Honeybear - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 9:45 am:

    Wooooohooooooooo! GET SOME RICH!

    Love how you’re shining a spotlight on IPI/TRONC perfidy!

  4. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 9:48 am:

    But Kass and Stantis are both partisans. They are paid to have partisan opinions so to pretend they are some kind of objective independents covering things and hold them to the same standard as straight news reporters just seems pretty dumb and pointless. That the Tribune might now pretend that these men appearing in an anti-Madigan documentary gives a false or new perception of their partisan leanings is an insult to its readers who have seen the partisan work these men have produced in recent years.

  5. - Honeybear - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 9:48 am:

    I’d like to suggest that the Tribune learn the difference between attitudes and behaviors.

  6. - VanillaMan - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 9:48 am:

    God forbid we see biased editorial writers leaning GOP. Yeah Trib- hunt them down! Don’t these writers know they are supposed to lean left?

  7. - Sir Reel - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 9:51 am:

    “Appearance of partisanship.” Understatement.

  8. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 9:52 am:

    The IPI’s “documentary” = Chicago Tribune’s “news.”
    It’s all the same Ministry of Truth.
    The Reader’s the only real newspaper left in this town.

  9. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 9:52 am:

    ===Don’t these writers know they are supposed to lean left? ===

    Have you actually read the Tribune editorial page? lol

  10. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 9:54 am:

    How it gets resolved:
    Rauner gives Dold a seat at the table next to Tillman when they pick GOP puppets. Dold will get the Radogno/Durkin seat. Those two aren’t really needed anymore anyway.

  11. - Umm - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 9:55 am:

    Say whatever you want about the Trib but this looks like a writer searching for a punchline to end on. Miner doesn’t present evidence of anything being “under review” by Dold.

  12. - Peorgie Tirebiter - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 9:57 am:

    Are there actually people who still read the Trib or tronk or tribble or whatever they call themselves now?

  13. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 10:00 am:

    Newspapers are impartial neutrals??? Since when???

    For many long years, the Chicago Tribune had the deserved reputation of being the Republican paper in Chicago (the late great Daily News was also Republican in outlook once upon a time). The once progressive Chicago Sun-Times was Democratic as were the Hearst papers most of the time with a few exceptions.

  14. - wordslinger - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 10:02 am:

    Quite a Capt. Renault act Dold has going there: he’s shocked, shocked, to learn that the tronclodytes have willfully engaged in partisan hackery.

    Big Brain Bruce would have you believe that he, veteran Illinois journalist that he is, was clueless to the IPI grift of being a “non-partisan” think tank when he published Rickert’s columns.

    That’s not remotely credible. Rauner has dropped more than $500K on IPI over the years that’s in the open and has been reported by the Chicago Tribune. Who knows about the dark money?

    Kass knowingly participating in the IPI video and Katrina knowingly participating in an IPI fundraiser — there’s no grey area there, no “bad judgement.”

    That’s ignoring the sirens and flashing lights as you happily skip across the bright red line you were warned about, in no uncertain terms, the first week of J-101.

    Both are clear violations of the ASNE code of ethics supposedly in force in Troncistan (see link below).

    And they would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for that pesky Miller kid.

  15. - Timmy O'T - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 10:05 am:

    Bruce Dold, who you crappin’?!

    The coordinated echo chamber created by the Rauner/IPI/Tronc Troika is as plain as day. Dold’s not pulling the wool over anyone eyes with his sudden burst of journalistic integrity over the IPI “documentary.” McQueary’s luncheon date was arguably more egregious than what Kass and Stantis did.

    If the Gannett sale of the Trib occurs and pink slips are issued to the bloated edit board staff, it will be interesting to see where where the sycophants end up working.

  16. - oldman - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 10:05 am:

    Kass has turned into a complete disgrace and should at least be suspended. My overall view is that he has sacrificed his credibility in what I perceive to be an audition for a seat on Fox News.

  17. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 10:05 am:

    ===Newspapers are impartial neutrals?===

    Who said that?

    Stay on topic, please.

  18. - wordslinger - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 10:06 am:

    VMan, it’s not a matter of their opinions, which are quite self-evident.

    It’s willfully joining forces with politically partisan forces that they’re supposed to be keeping honest as their readers’ watchdog.

    You can be a partisan rag or you can be an independent watchdog. You just can’t be both.

  19. - Retired SURS Employee - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 10:10 am:

    If there was any doubt about the Tribune’s irrelevancy, it was erased by today’s endorsement of Gary Johnson for President.

  20. - FTR - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 10:50 am:


    When newspapers coordinate talking points with advocacy groups and top government officials, things can get messy.
    Like when Dick Cheney, the Iraqi National Congress, and the New York Times set the false narrative on weapons of mass destruction during the run-up to the Iraq War.

    The echo chamber kicks in. Reporters quote biased “experts”, who are fed lines by government bosses, which are regurgitate in editorials and columns.

    Obviously, we’re dealing with a much less dangerous situation today, but there are parallels. John Tillman and his Illinois Policy Institute are no more “independent” than Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress. Both were treated by the media as neutral experts when they had real axes to grind.

    Like I said, it gets messy. The New York Times’ reputation took a real hit. The Trib is risking the same.

  21. - Team Sleep - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 10:52 am:

    SURS - why?! In my eyes - and I am a partisan Republican, by the way - Gary Johnson is the only legit choice.

  22. - Sayve - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 10:54 am:

    Both Mark Brown and Neil Steinberg have in the recent past been featured speakers at the 10th District Democrats.
    A while back Steinberg also made a public appearance supporting some program of Lisa Madigan and shortly after that Steinberg’s wife was hired by Lisa Madigan’s office as an Assistant AG.
    These relationships “under review” could become a thing.

  23. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 10:54 am:

    When will Paul Lisnek’s relationship with the IPI be investigated?

  24. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 10:57 am:

    Team Sleep -”What’s Aleppo?”

  25. - Winnin' - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 11:25 am:

    Kass has been an unabashed partisan in his column and on radio.
    The Tribune is splitting hairs.
    To paragraph an old saying, “You can put lipstick on a pig…”

  26. - Winnin' - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 11:27 am:

    Paraphrase not paragraph. Geez.

  27. - Matt Belcher - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 11:31 am:

    ==The Reader’s the only real newspaper left in this town.==

    Houston, We’ve Had a Problem:

  28. - @MisterJayEm - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 11:58 am:

    With the horses long gone, Dold considers closing tronc’s barn door.

    – MrJM

  29. - Bill F. - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 11:58 am:

    Boy, Miner heaps the praise on Rickert.

    She writes the same column every month. Rauner good. Unions bad. Cullerton worse. Madigan the worstestestest.

  30. - Anon - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 12:08 pm:

    The Sun-Times should ask Mark Brown not to speak at Democratic Party events

  31. - Retired SURS Employee - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 12:10 pm:

    Team Sleep - I’ll defer to the discussion currently going on in Rich’s later post concerning the Tribune endorsement; but suffice to say, “What’s Aleppo” and Johnson’s failure to name a single foreign leader that he admires, coupled with the fact that he has less than a 1% chance of being elected President proves my irrelevancy point.

  32. - Team Sleep - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 12:22 pm:

    10:57 and SURS - oh no! God forbid any candidate would make a mistake. Next time I hope the Libertarian Party puts forth Robot Gary Johnson as its nominee.

    Who cares if he has “no chance”? Their endorsement made more sense than a lot of other endorsements papers have made over the years.

  33. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 12:26 pm:

    The Trib has so much opinion, can’t even fit it onto two pages anymore.
    They require four pages to squeeze in all their propaganda.

  34. - walker - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 1:08 pm:

    ===VMan, it’s not a matter of their opinions, which are quite self-evident.

    It’s willfully joining forces with politically partisan forces that they’re supposed to be keeping honest as their readers’ watchdog.===

    Agree with Word.

    If only those traditional roles of the Press and its actors were better understood and appreciated today. Not sure we haven’t lost the role of the Press as acknowledged and protected by our founders.

  35. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 1:29 pm:

    Isn’t this what was at the center of the Sun Times controversy in 2014 that led to a reporter leaving that paper? That there was too close a relationship between the reporter and the consultants to a candidate for Gov who would benefit from some bad press on his opponent.
    IIRC, this site and the Chicago media in general was united in its defense of the reporter.
    I am sure there will be no shortage of people here telling me how wrong I am, but that’s how I remember it.

  36. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 1:34 pm:

    ===there was too close a relationship between the reporter and the consultants to a candidate for Gov===

    Very clever spin.

    The guy married a woman who was a consultant, but she didn’t work on the Quinn campaign.

    So, you’re equating a man who falls deeply in love with people agreeing to be in an Illinois Policy Institute movie.

    Too clever by half.

  37. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 30, 16 @ 1:36 pm:

    Also, the reporter in question wrote dozens of stories that infuriated Quinn during the fall campaign. I think he filed 50+ stories on the anti-crime money alone.

    Not seeing the same thing out of the others.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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