* We talked about this last Friday. Here’s Greg Hinz…
Chicagoans in search of reliable political coverage in today’s fractured media environment have a new source this campaign season. But whether that source is news or recycled propaganda from a prominent political activist is most debatable. As are the actions of the big donor who’s apparently picking up the tab.
At issue is the recent appearance in mailboxes all around town of Chicago City Wire, a broadsheet publication that bills itself just below its nameplate as “Real data. Real News.”
In fact, articles in recent editions of the newspaper mostly are negative pieces about Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot, mixed with a little positive coverage of GOP gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey. […]
Particularly striking in one issue are two pages of mug shots of people accused of violent crimes who may be released without bail under terms of a criminal justice reform bill Pritzker signed into law. At least 25 of the 36 men pictured are Black.
* Mary Ann Ahern…
In DuPage County, one of the papers, entitled the “DuPage Policy Journal,” showed two full pages of photos of men – mostly Black and Latino – whom the publication says will be released from prison because of the new legislation. […]
Pritzker says that the mailers are not marked properly as campaign material, and says that the reduction of local media outlets throughout the state has allowed the paper to gain circulation.
“When you get one of these in the mail, you should know that this is not a real newspaper,” he said. “It isn’t even marked properly as campaign material. It’s put out by this right-wing network of newspapers that we all know exists in Illinois, and they’re trying to take over where local, real journalism unfortunately has receded.”
Proft dismissed Pritzker’s concerns about the publications in an email to NBC 5 Political Reporter Mary Ann Ahern.
“Newspapers spreading misinformation and representing only one point of view? Pritzker must be talking about the Chicago Tribune and the NPR/AFL-CIO (Chicago) Sun-Times.”
* Gov. Pritzker was asked about the papers again today…
Well, first of all, this is a messaging that’s coming from a racist political consultant, who used to associate himself with Illinois, now lives in Florida. And he’s sending messages that are, you know, if you look at what he’s printed, it’s clearly all about the idea that, again, what he’s printing, that Black people are threatening your way of life. That’s essentially what he’s putting in these publications.
It’s a scare tactic. It’s meant to have people you know, concern for their safety. And the truth of the matter is that what he’s purveying here is complete hogwash. I’m probably being polite when I say that. It’s disgusting. It’s a terrible thing to do. We’re seeing it more and more in American politics, and unfortunately, we hadn’t seen it as much in Illinois, until this guy, Dan Proft, I think it’s missing an ‘i’ because it’s really all about profit for him. But that’s what he does.
And frankly, he’s doing it on behalf of Darren Bailey. And that says as much as you need to know about Darren Bailey
*** UPDATE 1 *** We have some react. Rep. Deb Conroy…
The DuPage Policy Journal and the “papers” Dan Proft puts out are trying to scare people with lies. They printed and doubled down on the hateful líes that caused months of threats to my life and prevented me from not only doing my job but going out and gathering petitions to run for DuPage County Board Chair. This is not journalism, this is paid for lies for political gain.
* Senate Black Caucus Chair Robert Peters…
The following is a statement from State Senator Robert Peters, Chair of the Illinois Senate Black Caucus, responding to the growing number of racist attack ads paid for by far right conservatives. These include “The Summer of Joy” ad, the People Who Play By The Rules PAC’s ad, and the mailer in the form of a fake newspaper, “Chicago City Wire” with the lead story titled, “It’s going to be the end of days,” referring to the end of money bond:
“The drumbeat of racist attack ads intended to decieve and scare suburban voters into supporting anti-abortion, pro-assault weapon right wing radicals must be called out for what they are: Willie Horton-level propaganda harkening back to Birth of a Nation that has nothing to do with working towards real public safety.
“The SAFE-T Act is based on evidence, data, and solving root causes of violence. It dares to imagine a world–that actually existed up through the 1970s–where people who never posed a threat to others weren’t rounded up and thrown into jail. And, it’s the only criminal justice reform legislation that has the full support of domestic violence, sexual assault, and victims rights organizations because it protects victims over perpetrators.
“These right wing groups have no intention of keeping us safe–they only want a rope around our necks. The SAFE-T Act will not be part of a Willie Horton-style lynch mob carried out by January 6th Oathkeeper zealots.”
* His papers seem to have quite the fixation on the governor’s daughter…
*** UPDATE 2 *** Proft responds…
Governor JB Pritzker continues to attack private citizen, radio host and People Who Play By The Rules PAC President Dan Proft during press conferences around the state, first in Chicago yesterday, and then again today in Harvey while talking about the extremely controversial SAFE-T Act. On January 1st, thousands of violent alleged perpetrators will be let out of jail when HB 3653 applies statewide. 100 of 102 Illinois State’s Attorneys of both parties oppose the law. According to NBC Chicago’s Mary Ann Ahern, Pritzker said the following yesterday in Chicago regarding Proft’s association with local newspapers that have printed photos of some of the violent alleged perpetrators who will be released: “It’s pretty awful. These are lies and they’re putting them out in various forms, attacking people based on their background.”
All of the photos in the stories are accurate and publicly available, and all of the information printed is 100% objectively factual.
Pritzker comments in Harvey today: “Well, first of all, this is a messaging that’s coming from a racist political consultant, who used to associate himself with Illinois, now lives in Florida. And he’s sending messages that are, you know, if you look at what he’s printed, it’s clearly all about the idea that, again, what he’s printing, that Black people are threatening your way of life. That’s essentially what he’s putting in these publications.”
Dan Proft’s response:
“Pritzker infuses race into every, single policy debate. He never deals on the merits, particularly on public safety. He signed the state’s death warrant with his no cash bail law. Challenge to JB: name one specific item in the newspaper you excoriate that is untrue or inaccurate.”
*** UPDATE 3 *** Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice takes up Proft’s challenge…
We have detailed four of the most egregious lies featured in the mailer here as a resource for journalists:
1. The mailer’s centerfold includes pictures of people—the vast majority of whom are Black—who it suggests are currently incarcerated in Cook County Jail. It then claims that under the Pretrial Fairness Act, they will be “released to Cook County’s Neighborhoods.” This is a lie. After January 1, 2023, judges will still have the ability to detain every person pictured.
Right now, any of the people pictured could be released from jail at any time by paying their money bail. In the current system, the amount of money someone has determines whether they can be released—not whether they pose a threat to someone else or are likely to flee prosecution.
The Pretrial Fairness Act ensures that the facts of a person’s case will be the main factor determining who is jailed and who is released pretrial, instead of the size of their bank account. When the Pretrial Fairness Act takes effect, a robust, individualized hearing will determine who is able to safely return to the community while awaiting trial.
2. “The Summer of Joy” section of the mailer claims that the Pretrial Fairness Act “mandates” that people charged with murder are released while awaiting trial. This is a lie. Any person charged with murder may be denied pretrial release under the Pretrial Fairness Act if they are found to be a danger to others or a flight risk.
3. The mailer features a list of charges that they claim are “non-detainable” under the Pretrial Fairness Act. This claim is factually incorrect; most of the charges listed are detainable if the person poses a flight risk. And anyone who is arrested for one of these charges while already on pretrial release for another crime can be denied release until trial.
4. Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow tries to sow fear by suggesting that Drew Peterson—a person convicted of both the murder of his wife and of attempting to hire someone to kill State’s Attorney Glasgow himself—would not have been able to be detained under the Pretrial Fairness Act. This is completely false.
Anyone charged with murder who poses a specific, real and present threat to another person can and would be denied release under the Pretrial Fairness Act. In fact, State’s Attorney Glasgow lays out in the article the exact facts that he would be able to present to a judge to have Mr. Peterson jailed without money bond under the Pretrial Fairness Act.