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Tribune editorial board focuses on “celebrity scandal” during candidates forum

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2020

* Tribune

The four Democrats vying for Cook County state’s attorney butted heads Monday over the best way to use the office to ensure public safety and tackle crime while also pushing systemic reforms to help vulnerable populations during a meeting before the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board.

But in a wide-ranging interview that touched on how the candidates would use the office to weed out government corruption, stem improper political influence and improve morale in the prosecutors office, the talk kept coming back to Jussie Smollett. More than half of the hourlong meeting — which also touched on transparency and campaign finance, among other topics — centered on current State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s handling of the Smollett case and why the 16 charges initially brought against him were dropped.

Notice the passive voice: “the talk kept coming back to Jussie Smollett.”


Vying to lead the prosecutor’s office of a county with more than 500 murders last year, the four Democrats on the March ballot for Cook County state’s attorney faced off Monday in a forum that focused largely on how incumbent Kim Foxx handled charges nearly a year ago in a celebrity scandal.

During the one-hour forum, held by the Chicago Tribune editorial board, the journalists focused the first 30 minutes on Jussie Smollett, the Empire actor charged with faking a hate crime, and a decision by Foxx’s office last March to drop 16 grand jury counts against him.

Emphasis added.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Montrose - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 10:20 am:

    Do they really think the Smollett case warrants that level of conversation? I would prefer for them to do it simply because it helps them get attention/clicks. I am much more concerned if the Trib thinks this one case is the most important issue in State’s Attorney’s race.

  2. - Lefty Lefty - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 10:23 am:

    I subscribed to the Sun-Times last week and worked out the login/access problems with a very responsive tech support.

    Maybe some day the Tribune will earn my subscription too. I’m not holding my breath.

  3. - low level - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 10:23 am:

    The way Foxx handled JS was bad, but what concerns me even more is the increase in shoplifting and other relatively “minor” crimes she’s not prosecuting. It was a good idea to start but its adding up, with stores in Chicago not even bothering to catch shoplifters since they know there wont be charges.

  4. - Lucky Pierre - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 10:24 am:

    Listen the the entire hour it is interesting to hear the deflection from the questioning that was from both the left and the right.

    You really don’t think these people are journalists and reflect ideological diversity?

    For once Eric Zorn and Kristin Mc Queary clearly agree on something.

  5. - Juvenal - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 10:27 am:

    Clickbait journalism begets clickbait elections which beget clckbait democracy.

    Not sure this is what de Touqueville had in mind.

  6. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 10:31 am:

    Thanks so much for this post, Rich. The article in the Tribune made it seem like the other candidates were focused on this when the focus came from the Tribune. And it loses the point of the other things that are wrong in the office, especially the response to the violence in the central business district. My particular favorite point came late in the video when Foxx and More were attacking Conway on his trial experience after attacking him on his father. Watch him turn on them and say that he has done more felony trials than either of them in the last 25 years, and that if they want to attack his father, go ahead. it’s a real indication of his spirit. very interesting. just had a chance to meet him in person and he seems like a very nice guy but boy did he get tough with that debate turn and it was amazing.

  7. - Glenn - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 10:32 am:

    It wasn’t the journalist’s fault.

    The Devil made them do it.

  8. - All This - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 10:48 am:

    “The way Foxx handled JS was bad, but what concerns me even more is the increase in shoplifting and other relatively “minor” crimes she’s not prosecuting.”
    Shoplifting was increasing long before Fox was elected due to more places like EBay and Amazon to fence stolen goods.
    What has gone down under Fox’s tenure is murders.

  9. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 10:48 am:

    Zorn admitted in his column that it’s basically the only thing the editorial board wanted to ask about:

    “We tried. Lord knows, we tried.

    For fully half of Monday’s hourlong candidate forum in the Cook County state’s attorney’s Democratic primary race, members of the Tribune Editorial Board and I peppered incumbent Kim Foxx with multiple variations of a simple question that’s on the minds of many voters”

  10. - City Zen - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 11:01 am:

    ==What has gone down under Fox’s tenure is murders.==

    Foxx’s stats benefit greatly from a huge spike in 2016, a year with a high homicide rate comparable to the early 1990’s. Even still, homicides are at levels higher than they were 10 years ago.

  11. - Ogden - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 11:12 am:

    Kim is going to win and it wont’ be close.

  12. - PP - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 12:00 pm:

    Trib Editorial Board is a joke - 30 minutes on Smollett is pathetic should have been 5-10 minutes max. SO many other important topics

  13. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 12:02 pm:

    @Ogden - Unfortunately you are probably right. It’s not her progressive nature that bothers me but the fact that she just hasn’t done a very good job.

  14. - Conway All Day - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 12:02 pm:

    Of course it’s important. Kim Foxx is under investigation.

    Kim Foxx is burning taxpayer money on her own legal defense. She’s going to lose on March 17th.

  15. - midway gardens - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 12:37 pm:

    == Zorn admitted in his column that it’s basically the only thing the editorial board wanted to ask about:

    Wow, such as lie. In fact in the rest of the sentence you conveniently omit is ‘. There were other issues to get to, so we finally moved on.’

    They spent so much time on it because Foxx wouldn’t answer ‘what happened?’.

  16. - Ed Equity - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 12:53 pm:

    While there are other issues to discuss, the public cares most about the Jussie Smollet case, so it seems their job to ask the questions. When Hollywood elite buy off elected officials, it should matter and the issue should stick. The contrast between Foxx and Conway makes him look like Elliot Ness. Chicago needs a buy the book person helping to clean up this town.

  17. - @misterjayem - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 1:00 pm:

    “the public cares most about the Jussie Smollet case”

    One would hope that the public is a bit smarter than that.

    – MrJM

  18. - West Side the Best Side - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 1:19 pm:

    MrJM - As attributed to H.L. Mencken: “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” Look no further than ” Reality” TV shows’ popularity and the results of that popularity.?

  19. - All This - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 3:46 pm:

    “ Even still, homicides are at levels higher than they were 10 years ago.”
    Some people are never happy. Violent crime was going up and now it’s down significantly three years in a row.

  20. - crazybleedingheart - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 6:51 pm:

    The comparison is silly

    but also

    Elliott Ness went to Fenger and Conway went to The Latin School

  21. - Dee4Three - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 10:55 pm:

    Also, spending 30 minutes of a 60-minute debate talking about Jessie Smollet in a county that has 500 murders, poor community/police relations and a billion-dollar budget between all the criminal justice actors is basically journalistic malpractice.

  22. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Jan 29, 20 @ 8:30 am:

    Foxx did about 3500 other pretrial diversions as well as the Smollett case.
    If the electorate wants all low level nonviolent felonies to go to trial they certainly can vote for someone to do that. And faint when they get their property tax bill.

  23. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Jan 29, 20 @ 8:33 am:

    Sorry, it was 5700 alternative prosecutions, not 3500.

  24. - Lipinski Fan - Wednesday, Jan 29, 20 @ 1:05 pm:

    Violent crime is up, but not reported much.

  25. - All This - Friday, Jan 31, 20 @ 9:32 am:

    Lipinski fan: citation?

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