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*** UPDATED x1 *** Daily Herald the big loser

Monday, Sep 26, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Far-right activist Dan Proft has proved time and time again that he is very effective at calling attention to himself and getting under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s skin in the worst way.

Proft’s newspapers have, for instance, published several articles with photos of Pritzker’s daughter. Sometimes the stories were wrong, like when a false claim was made that Pritzker’s daughter was sitting outdoors at a Chicago restaurant with several friends in violation of the 10-person rule during the pandemic.

“It wasn’t her,” Pritzker told reporters back in November 2020, when COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations were rising sharply. “But the picture falsely identifying her started making the rounds on social media, helped along by the trolls who permeate these social media platforms these days. My office put out a statement making clear this wasn’t my daughter. But that didn’t stop Republican elected officials, a network of propaganda publications in the state and some radio shock jocks from telling people that the picture was of my daughter, despite knowing that this was a lie.”

“Put yourself in the shoes of a high school girl who is being weaponized against her father by his political opponents. Weaponized with lies,” Pritzker said. Even so, the photo and the story are still online.

The papers, owned by parent company Local Government Information Services (LGIS), have run articles showing the young woman partying in the Bahamas outdoors, riding on a horse outdoors and having fun with friends outdoors at Lollapalooza.

Proft also co-hosts a morning radio show with Amy Jacobson, who spoke at a public rally against the governor’s pandemic mitigations and regularly showed up to Pritzker’s press conferences to ask loaded questions, to the point where she was eventually banned from the pressers, although the ban was lifted not long after.

Proft’s exact affiliation with LGIS is not clear. The print version is being mailed unsolicited on a regular basis to large numbers of registered voters. The latest edition features a front-page claim that Pritzker and his transgender aunt (a wealthy Republican who supported Bruce Rauner) are in league to eliminate the “myth” of gender, a claim that has been circulated by far-right websites for months.

The papers have also been accused of publishing incendiary, racist stories about accused criminals who would soon be released into suburban communities. Pritzker himself addressed that edition, calling it “messaging that’s coming from a racist political consultant.” The paper also printed wildly false claims by a state’s attorney who warned that the reforms in the now-notorious SAFE-T Act would bring the “end of days.”

It’s unclear who is funding the papers, but Proft also heads the People Who Play by the Rules PAC, an independent expenditure committee backing Darren Bailey’s gubernatorial campaign and funded solely by far-right billionaire Dick Uihlein.

Last week, a Shaw Local newspaper story about the Proft papers noted in passing that LGIS was using Paddock Publications’ postage permit. According to a recent Illinois Press Association news release, Paddock’s Schaumburg printing facility is owned by the Daily Herald Media Group.

Many journalists and others were stunned by the revelation. Proft’s papers have been accused of deliberately spreading disinformation and amplifying racism and homophobia. The Illinois Press Association has tried its best to point out that LGIS is not a member and the company’s papers are not actually news. That a respected publisher was printing and mailing those papers came as a shock, particularly since the Daily Herald has taken an active role in the Illinois Press Association.

Pritzker then goosed the story into overdrive by backing out of a debate hosted in part by the Daily Herald. Hours later, Paddock Publications announced that it had dropped its printing and mailing contract with LGIS, claiming it wanted no part in the fight between Pritzker and Proft, but denying that it did anything wrong. In a bitter response, Proft claimed that he was a “longstanding client” of the Daily Herald, so you gotta wonder how long the Daily Herald has been doing this.

The big loser in all this is the Daily Herald, which lost an incalculable amount of respect for its integrity that it may never regain because of its active participation in a tsunami of viral disinformation during dangerous times. Pritzker prevailed and was able to keep the focus off other important campaign issues. And Proft got attention for himself and his radio show and a platform to say things like calling Pritzker a “bedwetting, spoiled brat.”

* Crain’s editorial

“Many critics cannot or refuse to differentiate between a commercial printing operation . . . and the Daily Herald’s editorial mission to be unbiased and fair,” the letter states, without addressing the still-unanswered question of whether LGIS mailed these materials on Paddock’s dime. “The perception for some has become that the Daily Herald favors one party over another and by printing for LGIS, it’s somehow promoting its message. That is not true.”

Actually, producing and apparently providing postage for this stuff is pretty much the definition of promoting this message. And, to be clear, the look would be just as bad if Paddock had printed and lent its postal permit to sham newspapers that amounted to unlabeled ads for Pritzker or Lightfoot.

We’re not talking about slick pamphlets, brochures or posters here—the kind of material that voters are accustomed to finding in their mailboxes, stuck into their doorjambs or pressed into their hands as they run for the train during campaign season. We’re talking about deceptively designed mailers that are clearly meant to simulate newspapers—printed and evidently distributed by a company that, however inconveniently in this case, happens to be in the news business.

* Related…

* Pritzker, Bailey gubernatorial forum on after controversy

* ‘Deceptive’ Chicago City Wire Hitting Mailboxes Looks Like A Newspaper. But It’s Really A Conservative Campaign Mailer: While media law experts said that the publications were protected by the free speech provision of the First Amendment, they agreed that they were essentially political mailers, intentionally disguised as newspapers. “I don’t call them newspapers for a very good reason,” said Don Craven, president of the Springfield-based Illinois Press Association. “They’re not.”

*** UPDATE *** Money will always find a way around impediments, but that doesn’t mean the Daily Herald had to sully itself…


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39 Comments
  1. - Kathy - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 9:23 am:

    What time is Friday’s Gubernatorial Forum? Will it be televised?


  2. - vern - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 9:23 am:

    There’s an interesting dynamic playing out with Pritzker that I don’t entirely understand. He’s pretty openly positioning himself to run for President and trying to build a national platform. But he also seems to be increasingly preoccupied by minor Illinois-based rivalries. It’s normal for politicians to be relatively petty grudge holders, but I’d think those grudges would transition with his focus.

    It should be Gavin Newsom, Ron DeSantis, DNC/White House staff, etc who are getting under his skin. He should be going days at a time forgetting Proft exists. I’m not saying he was wrong to bring the hammer down on Paddock, but the context of it was clearly a personal hatred of Proft more than a principled support for real journalism.

    Proft is a hatable figure, so I get it. But at the end of the day, He’s the guy Pritzker should want running Uihlein’s money. Most other operatives wouldn’t be pocketing or wasting nearly as much.


  3. - Michelle Flaherty - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 9:26 am:

    I still can’t believe that the Daily Herald/Paddock had gone on all in on community forums fighting fake news only to be actively promoting/profiting off it through its printing business.
    This is not a big company. It’s a small set of people overseeing everything. Shocked that they were doing this and still disappointed at their explanations.
    The Daily Herald/Paddock motto has long been: Tell the truth, fear God and make money.
    Perhaps a good question of the day would be to come up with a new Daily Herald/Paddock company motto.


  4. - Back to the Future - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 9:28 am:

    Good article in the Times on Sunday. It offered an excellent comparison piece between what we have learned to expect and trust from the Times and the slanted political campaign information we have seen from “newspapers” that have been arriving in mailbox’s across the state.
    Two thoughts came to mind as I read the article yesterday.
    The first was that Senator Bailey should be clear that he does not support attacking family members of his election opponent and that he will fire anyone on his campaign staff that participated in that kind of nonsense.
    Second thought was that if we don’t support our newspapers by subscribing or purchasing them we are going to end up with seeing only the candidate information that will come from commercials or campaign literature like these “newspapers”.


  5. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 9:29 am:

    Of course we aren’t we talking about the printers who print and mail the slick misleading mailers by Democrats. Aren’t they also promoting misleading messages and deserve the full wrath of government?


  6. - Friendly Bob Adams - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 9:32 am:

    The Herald can’t wriggle out of this one. They supported Proft’s efforts and were found out. Glad to see them called out for what they are.


  7. - Rich Miller - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 9:34 am:

    ===slick misleading mailers by Democrats===

    The difference is, you know who is sending those and know who is funding them. Also, can you point to a Dem mailer that’s masquerading as a legit newspaper?


  8. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 9:35 am:

    -printers who print and mail the slick misleading mailers by Democrats.-

    The ones that don’t own newspapers and print materials designed to deceive people into thinking they are newsspapers?


  9. - Larry Bowa Jr. - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 9:35 am:

    “Second thought was that if we don’t support our newspapers by subscribing or purchasing them we are going to end up with seeing only the candidate information that will come from commercials or campaign literature like these “newspapers”.”

    I don’t subscribe to the Tribune because its editors insist on using their editorial pages to insult me with the dumbest bull**** in print on a regular basis.
    I don’t subscribe the the Herald because if I’m paying for it I want to read an actual newspaper that takes me longer than 5 minutes to get through. Same with the Sun-Times.
    Guilting readers into wasting money on a trash product wasn’t the solution to what ails newspapers 15 years ago and it’s definitely not going to fix anything now.


  10. - Just Saying - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 9:41 am:

    ==I don’t subscribe the the Herald because if I’m paying for it I want to read an actual newspaper that takes me longer than 5 minutes to get through. Same with the Sun-Times.==

    Same with the SJ-R too, although it’s probably takes only 3 minutes to get through. Shorter if you ignore the ads and fluff stories.


  11. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 9:43 am:

    ===by Democrats===

    Again.

    If you are “whatabouting” you are openly conceding it was wrong.

    That’s how it works.

    - Lucky Pierre -, this is a newspaper, allegedly, are you saying it’s not a newspaper at all but merely a partisan mailing?

    Huh.

    So you readily admit Proft’s papers are phony.

    Interesting.


  12. - duck duck goose - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 9:48 am:

    Newspapers get tax breaks on their ink and paper. I wonder how that factored into the printing of LGIS material. Are taxpayers subsidizing electioneering materials?


  13. - Arsenal - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 9:55 am:

    ==Of course we aren’t we talking about the printers who print and mail the slick misleading mailers by Democrats.==

    Nor should we be, because those printers do not purport to do anything more than print up the lit that someone else created and paid for. Proft, otoh, was pretending to be an independent and legitimate news organization. Rational people will treat different things differently.

    You’ll keep on doing something else, I suppose.

    == the full wrath of government?==

    Lighten up, Francis. JB decided not to attend an event, that was all.


  14. - Perry Noya - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 9:57 am:

    “Media law experts” said the First Amendment applies.
    You have to be a “media law expert” to understand the First Amendment?


  15. - Bolingbrook party of 7 - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 9:59 am:

    Who is the new printer? Gonna cancel them too?


  16. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 10:02 am:

    -Gonna cancel them too?-

    Private companies making a business decision = cancellation in your world? They could have said no.


  17. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 10:04 am:

    ==Gonna cancel them too?==

    What does “cancelled” even mean at this point?


  18. - Kathy - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 10:04 am:

    ==Are taxpayers subsidizing electioneering materials?==

    Did the Proft fake newspapers get a cheaper per piece mailing rate?


  19. - Steve - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 10:07 am:

    I hear the phrase “far -right” used a lot. What is the “far left” (I don’t see that phrase anywhere).


  20. - Arsenal - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 10:10 am:

    == if we don’t support our newspapers by subscribing or purchasing them we are going to end up with seeing only the candidate information that will come from commercials or campaign literature like these “newspapers”.==

    There’s something to that, but I also sympathize with the folks, both left and right, who think that a lot of newspapers have broken our trust and are currently putting out a really crummy product.


  21. - Telly - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 10:14 am:

    == He should be going days at a time forgetting Proft exists. ==

    Two things here. First, Proft is pretty aggressively and completely inappropriately going after JB’s daughter. I can see how he’d take that personally.

    Second, as deceitful as Proft’s attacks have been on the SAFE-T Act, they’ve also been something else: effective. That demands a response, both when JB is in front of the microphones and with paid advertising, which his campaign belatedly got to earlier this week.


  22. - Thomas Paine - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 10:19 am:

    I think its worth pointing out that SEIU did in fact finance its own progressive news site for awhile.

    The difference is that SEIU was completely transparent about their funding.

    I don’t know what kind of dark money shell game Proft, Timpone and Uhlein are playing. But this is the kind of high-level shenanigans that attracts the attention of US Attorneys. They hear “US Post Office” and know that they immediately have jurisdiction.

    Timpone has avoided this with the Madison County Record, funded by the asbestos industry I expect, by not mailing his papers but instead distributing for free at newsstands and other retailers.

    Proft might have stepped in it with his bulk mail program.


  23. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 10:21 am:

    –You have to be a “media law expert” to understand the First Amendment?–

    It certainly helps, as it applies to the law.

    There are situations where a private person could be sued for (first) saying the same thing that a newspaper prints.

    There are things you can legally say at a public meeting that would be actionable in any other setting.

    There are things you can legally say about a person in public office, that would be actionable if said about a private citizen.

    So yes, it helps to know about all these things in how the law intersects with the First Amendment..


  24. - Demoralized - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 10:25 am:

    ==What is the “far left” (I don’t see that phrase used anywhere).==

    That’s because those people are called Socialists or Communists by those that might use that term.


  25. - DePaul Alum - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 10:35 am:

    There’s an interesting dynamic playing out with Pritzker that I don’t entirely understand.

    Vern - what don’t you understand? Pritzker has an election in about a month. I’m glad Pritzker and his campaign are focused on the minutiae of running and winning in Illinois. In the last week they were able to get two Proft ads pulled off the air and shut (or at least slow) down Proft’s disinformation platform. As Oswego Willy likes to say - that’s the blocking and tackling stuff that any campaign worth their salt needs to be focused on. And btw does a huge service for everyone else on the ticket. And let’s not forget that Proft splashed photos of Pritzker’s teenage daughter all over one of those papers.

    I am glad Pritzker decided to rejoin the forum. Glad Mike Ollen sent that letter and glad it ended as it did.


  26. - vern - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 10:35 am:

    === What is the “far left”===

    It’s an interesting dynamic that I’ve commented on before. Democrats largely try to understand the inner workings of the Republican Party, and therefor acknowledge internal disagreements. But Republicans seemingly struggle to admit that some Democrats aren’t actually socialists. The far left exists, it’s discussed regularly in the media, and their disagreements with the rest of the party are easy to find for the curious. It just requires admitting that JB Pritzker and Dick Durbin aren’t socialists in lockstep agreement with, say, Carlos Rosa. Once you get past that mental obstacle, there’s all sorts of interesting variety in the Democratic Party.


  27. - Annonin' - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 10:37 am:

    I don’t call them newspapers for a very good reason,” said Don Craven, president of the Springfield-based Illinois Press Association. “They’re not.”
    AND Prexy Don whaz ya gonna do. Using a federal permit improperly would seem to warrant a probe, some babble from Sen. Durbin about “reforms” of the permit requirements, maybe an industry probe into who else uses Daily Herald/Paddock presses and a little fuller disclosure from DH “senior management”on what they make here.
    BTW it is ironic that Shaw broke this after hosting many screenings of the IPI/Proft fake Madigan movie a few years back


  28. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 11:08 am:

    Republicans and the right have been scaring their base for decades, calling Democrats socialists/far left. A better question would be, when don’t they do it?


  29. - cermak_rd - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 11:37 am:

    I’m not sure I could be pushed even by guilt to consume Chicago papers. The Trib has a loathsome editorial board, the Suntimes hasn’t been worth it. I subscribe to the NYT and to the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ). Both of them have good investigative reporting, editorial pages that can be ignored since they make up such a small part of the whole package. I also occasionally buy and read Trouw (Dutch newspaper). Getting news from outside the US gives me a much better view of the world and confidence that it has not gone through the bizarre red/blue filter American news has.


  30. - DougChicago - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 11:52 am:

    The tragedy here is this all just gives Prof(i)t the publicity he so craves. The material is preposterous, but best to ignore it. It clearly will not impact the election and the only way to get rid of Prof(i)t is to deprive him of the notoriety, and with it the money, he is desperate to obtain.


  31. - Arsenal - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 12:25 pm:

    “Cancelled”, huh?


  32. - Barrington - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 12:32 pm:

    Glad to see Pritzker’s team was right on target, with their actions. Kids should never be part of political mudslinging.


  33. - thisjustinagain - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 1:05 pm:

    The use of the mailing permit is be perfectly legal; bulk mailers use a single permit for multiple clients, so Paddock and the pols aren’t likely ‘misusing’ the permit’. See the USPS Domestic Mail Manual, Ch. 600, Sec. 5.0 “Permit Imprint-Indicia”.
    Of course, this doesn’t address the fake news content, and why Paddock/DHMG ever took the job in the first place, but apparently there’s no editorial review of Paddock’s potential printing work.


  34. - Frumpy White Guy - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 1:38 pm:

    Even though JB is a trust fund billionaire, he has endured a great deal of hardship. Having an alcoholic mother who inflicted great emotional hardship on him was so traumatic and the topic of campaign ads. Also, having to deal with a femur that had developed a hairline fracture. JB is human and he and his family should not be used as political punching bag.


  35. - MisterJayEm - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 1:55 pm:

    “Paddock Publications has been replaced as the printer by a bigger operation and the distro of newspapers will imcrease.”

    “And those grapes were sour anyway,” said the fox.

    – MrJM


  36. - Excitable Boy - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 1:57 pm:

    - aren’t likely ‘misusing’ the permit -

    No one said they were. The question is why a supposed news organization help Proft distribute a fake newspaper, thereby damaging their own credibility. This isn’t rocket science.


  37. - Nuke The Whales - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 1:59 pm:

    ==I hear the phrase “far -right” used a lot. What is the “far left” (I don’t see that phrase anywhere).==
    A small group of people with little to no influence in American politics often brought up in self-serving, nut-picking arguments by the Republican Party.


  38. - ste_with a v_en - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 2:07 pm:

    Proft had Dennis Byrne on for that “book” he wrote. Yikes.


  39. - low level - Monday, Sep 26, 22 @ 4:15 pm:

    Of course vern doesnt understand. Basic logic escapes him quite often.


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