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Who does this?

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Fran Spielman on yet another surreal act by Chicago’s mayor

In an apparent effort to turn things around [with the city’s news media], Johnson scheduled a meeting with the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board this week that would have been his first.

But Monday’s meeting ended abruptly — after Johnson and board members had introduced themselves — when press secretary Ronnie Reese insisted the entire session be off the record. Editorial Page editor Lorraine Forte refused to accept those unprecedented terms. Johnson allowed Reese to make the argument for him and never said a word before signing off from the Zoom session.

I just don’t get this thinking.


  1. - McGuppin - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 8:17 am:

    What in the world is going on with the Johnson Administration? Honestly, I’m flabbergasted. I need someone to explain it to me.

  2. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 8:17 am:

    This guy is incompetent and so is his staff.

  3. - Kalorama Road - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 8:23 am:

    I wonder if Kelly Cassidy regrets endorsing Johnson.

  4. - Just Me 2 - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 8:24 am:

    The Mayor and all his CTU allies were under the impression everyone thinks like them, and it was just a small group of people in control (the rich) that kept them down. Now they are blaming the media for their problems and believe if they just keep plowing through everything will be alright.

  5. - The Opinions Bureau - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 8:31 am:

    I wonder if Rep. Cassidy has to pay property taxes on the real estate she apparently owns in Kalorama Road’s head.

  6. - Stephanie Kollmann - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 8:32 am:

    Every politician should have endorsed Johnson in the runoff. Vallas is an incompetent, malicious, deceitful nightmare.

    Which is why it is so frustrating to watch this complete squandering of so many people’s good will and best efforts.

  7. - Roadrager - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 8:35 am:

    Everyone brings up Brandon Johnson rolling over for CTU, but after these last nine months, I’d put my money on him bumbling his way into a strike longer than Rahm’s or Lori’s. The guy gets handed layups and then tries to eat the ball for some reason.

    I’m genuinely concerned about the pendulum swing we’re going to see for the next mayor. Like, Mayor Willie Wilson could be a legitimate possibility next time.

  8. - H-W - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 8:37 am:

    Who does this?

    People who are newbies to positions of power and authority.

    People who have not been parties to public decision-making bodies.

    People who do not trust and are unwilling to trust the press.

    It is becoming obvious that the learning curve for this administration is far too steep to be overcome in the first year. If Mayor Johnson is smart, he will begin the difficult process of replacing his leadership team, and surrounding himself with people who know how to manage a city effectively. But he needs to do so now, not at some later point. He is losing his credibility as a potential leader.

  9. - ChicagoBars - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 8:38 am:

    His staff mucked up an edit board interview with the Sun-Times the day before Mayor introduces a $1.25B bond proposal for housing and social services to City Council? A proposal you’d think they’d be eager to tout ahead of intro?

    That seems bonkers.

  10. - Save Ferris - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 8:46 am:

    He’s scared. Every time he opens his mouth another foot crams in. His teeth look like the back wall at Chernin’s. He thinks the solution is not to talk.

  11. - vern - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 8:49 am:

    Lots of layers of incompetence to this one. Staff should’ve sorted out the conditions beforehand. There’s no reason to get everyone in the room if it’s all off the record. And once Johnson was in the room, he should’ve shown enough bravery and leadership to shut his staff up and do an on-the-record interview. And even if it all played out the way it did, Johnson should’ve been back on the call within 5 minutes apologizing for the misunderstanding. Then do the dang interview.

    It seems like Johnson completely froze when called upon to exercise one of his most basic job functions. If you’re that afraid of reporters, don’t run for Mayor of Chicago.

  12. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 8:52 am:

    Can’t wait for him to tell Flannery his shirt is ugly

  13. - pragmatist - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 9:00 am:

    Jason Lee. Stacey Davis Gates. Emma Tai. The angry patrol got Brandon Johnson through a bonkers primary and runoff. Still, all are ill-equipped to govern a major city. Knocking on doors and organizing is a skill and an art, and Brandon and the angry patrol are master classes. For the city’s sake, I wish this group could see that social workers, wraparound services, and progressive buzzwords aren’t enough. So disappointed with the political malpractice.

  14. - Formerly Beverly Bob - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 9:01 am:

    Anyone consider that perhaps this is the outcome the administration wanted?

    Occam’s Razor would suggest incompetence, but what if they just want no questions….ever.

  15. - Chicagonk - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 9:06 am:

    @Kalorama - How about Toni Preckwinkle. She is way more responsible for Johnson than Kelly Cassidy.

  16. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 9:26 am:

    This is why, even though I can’t stand him, I held my nose and voted for Valas.

  17. - Montrose - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 9:31 am:

    I really wish they would stop with the self inflicted wounds. If the Mayor was just taking hits on the policy, sure. That makes sense. But these weird, petty things around engaging with the media is only undermining everything else they want to accomplish.

  18. - Jocko - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 9:31 am:

    ==the entire session be off the record.==

    or, I’m just spitballing here, stay quiet and hear what they have to say? Measure your words when speaking? Sheesh (exclamation point)

  19. - Regular democrat - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 9:33 am:

    This is becoming Todd Stroger part 2. Im sure the boss of the cook county machine TP cant be happy but life goes on. In retrospect in 2019 a lot of people should have held their nose and voted for her. We wouldnt be having these conversations today.

  20. - BigLou - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 9:39 am:

    “Who does this?”-Immature politicians that don’t actually know what to do or wan to do it.

  21. - Nick - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 9:47 am:

    Scheduling an interview with reporters

    Only to demand they not report on it


  22. - Just Another Anon - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 9:49 am:

    Funny how the progressive golden children that were Lightfoot and Johnson proved totally incapable of governing. Makes you miss the days when the Rahm and the other adults were in charge.

  23. - TJ - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 9:51 am:

    This is barely a step less inane than specifically calling a press conference and then insisting that it all be off the record, too.

  24. - Stephanie Kollmann - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 9:53 am:

    ==progressive golden children that were Lightfoot==


    =miss the days when the Rahm=


  25. - OH - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 9:55 am:

    == I just don’t get this thinking ==

    It’s a product of Johnson’s world view. He is the oppressed, and in this particular scenario, the Sun-Times editorial board is the oppressor. He will not engage on the oppressor’s terms. It’s standard critical theory stuff.

    It is this philosophy that makes him and his ideological sisters and brothers almost incapable of governing. Just ask Jeanette Taylor.

  26. - Macon Bakin - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 9:59 am:

    Could’ve had Chuy y’all. Could’ve had Chuy.

  27. - Homebody - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:06 am:

    I wanted Buckner, and only voted Johnson because I didn’t want a right winger, sorry, a “Life-long Democrat who keeps getting endorsed by extreme right wingers, guest hosts a right wing radio show, and keeps accidentally getting invited to headline right wing fundraisers” as mayor.

    I figured Johnson would be incompetent in certain areas, but incompetence would be better than willful destruction.

  28. - Forever Winter - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:07 am:

    It’s an open secret at this point that the Fifth Floor team walks around complaining about how the media is out to get them instead of developing any coherent press strategy.

    Even if that were true… what are you going to do about it?

  29. - Sonny - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:07 am:

    Interesting the progressives strung together some wins had this nice window and managed to shut it on themselves so quickly.

  30. - vern - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:08 am:

    === Rahm and the other adults ===

    I’m very critical of Johnson, I even criticized him in this post. But he’s only like 4 years younger than Rahm was when he was sworn in. He’s the same age Richard M Daley was when he was first sworn in. Calling him “not an adult” compared to them is clearly not a chronological fact. It smacks of some ugly history. There are plenty of ways to criticize him without misstating his age.

  31. - Henry Francis - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:12 am:

    I read below on the roundup that Johnson had the City file a lawsuit against Big Oil over their lies about climate change. So he’s taking on Big Oil and getting resolutions on Israel/Hamas, but can’t talk to the press or run the city.

    He doesn’t know what his job is.

  32. - Charles Edward Cheese - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:18 am:

    I’m starting to think Brandon Johnson thought that being Mayor of Chicago was more a figurehead role like being Queen of England.

  33. - Sad - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:31 am:

    ==I wanted Buckner, and only voted Johnson because I didn’t want a right winger, sorry, a “Life-long Democrat who keeps getting endorsed by extreme right wingers, guest hosts a right wing radio show, and keeps accidentally getting invited to headline right wing fundraisers” as mayor.==

    Maybe those endorsers were on to something…

  34. - Unionman - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:32 am:

    Can we get Richard the First or Second back please? Two mayors in a row who have no idea how to govern.

  35. - Homebody - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:41 am:

    == Maybe those endorsers were on to something… ==

    Exactly. Which is why I voted against him. Same as if you get an FOP endorsement. I take them at their word, and vote for someone else.

  36. - Jocko - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:44 am:

    With respect to vern, how about grownup?

    MBJ should just come out and say “I am not in charge. I’m trying to get to be in charge.” /S

  37. - Chicago Voter - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:45 am:

    Perhaps, it was Mayor Johnson who wanted the interview off the record and Ronnie was just doing his bidding.

    The team on the 5th floor is incredibly insular, consistently viewing themselves as under attack instead of holding and wielding power. If the principle is the problem, replacing the team won’t have critical impact.

    Political money shifting out of Brandon Johnson coffers to other places might be more magical.

    Agree, that the city will accept a more right-leaning candidate if only it seems the person is a more competent manager, this is on the progressives who did not and are not doing their homework to run a city government apparatus.

  38. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:49 am:

    ===Perhaps, it was Mayor Johnson who wanted the interview off the record and Ronnie===

    That seems the most plausible.

    In my experience over the years, things like this aren’t necessarily staff’s fault beyond their enabling of the principal’s behavior.

  39. - Rudy’s teeth - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 10:58 am:

    As a former Social Studies teacher, Brandon Johnson should have no problem addressing topics and current events. Or did he rely on silent reading and students answering questions at the end of the chapter?

    It is obvious that Brandon Johnson was never a member of the speech and debate team while he was a student. If he were, he would be more adept at speaking and answering questions.

    Mayor Brandon Johnson’s inability to function at a press conference, answer questions, and engage in dialogue with reporters indicates he is in over his head. This does not bode well for the citizens of Chicago.

  40. - Shytown - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:00 am:

    The administration is probably thanking the heavens above that city council doesn’t have a recall mechanism on the books.

  41. - Stephanie Kollmann - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:01 am:

    Nine months into running one of the biggest cities in America, you have exactly the staff you deserve

    So even clear bad/missing staff issues reflect on the principal.

  42. - Flapdoodle - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:22 am:

    =Scheduling an interview with reporters
    Only to demand they not report on it

    I don’t know why, but this is spot on and just cracked me up. I imagine “amazing” being said in exasperated, disbelieving, deflated tones. And that just about describes this mayoral administration to a tee. At what point do we cross the line into willful incompetence?

  43. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:26 am:

    I think MBJ is a lot like RMD, except in a few aspects. That’s basically the problem.

  44. - LastModDemStanding - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 11:40 am:

    Personnel is policy…and the people the Mayor keeps closest to him should give constituents enough evidence to know where his policy priorities are/aren’t as well as executive management competency.

  45. - James of Little Italy - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 12:14 pm:

    This makes me really sad, but I will never, never long for RMD or Rahm.

  46. - ZC - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 12:26 pm:

    This is me, throwing away my shot
    This is me, throwing away my shot
    Liberals finally got the power, this supposed to be
    our hour
    And this is me, throwing away their shot

  47. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 12:46 pm:

    =There are plenty of ways to criticize him without misstating his age.=

    With respect, he just isn’t demonstrating a level of professional maturity that we had hoped for. That isn’t about anything other than his poor decision making and poorly thought out actions.

    Johnson is blowing a golden opportunity to follow up a very unpopular mayor and one that was largely incompetent at governance. He only had to be competent, not spectacular. He has time to recover but that looks less likely every day, especially after this little disaster.

    I thought Rahm was a good mayor, many if not most did not it seems. He was definitely better than his successor and quickly looks the same with Johnson.

  48. - Formerly Unemployed - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 12:48 pm:

    ==I wanted Buckner==

    A lot of politico types thought Kam Buckner and Sophia King weren’t ready for the big time, so neither got the support they deserved. They understood what the job was.

  49. - Frida's boss - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 12:58 pm:

    Brandon’s background in the political game is short. He was a backbencher on the Cook County Board. He was an organizer for CTU.
    None of that prior experience can prepare you for being “the guy”.
    He and his staff are not only in the room where it happens they get to dictate what occurs there. It’s a shame they don’t know what is supposed to happen or how to get that done.

  50. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 1:08 pm:

    ==I wanted Buckner==

    The election is over. Re-litigating it is dorm room material.

  51. - Paddyrollingstone - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 1:44 pm:

    - TJ - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 9:51 am:

    This is barely a step less inane than specifically calling a press conference and then insisting that it all be off the record, too.

    Good point. Always reminds me of the MASH episode regarding the incubator and Hawkeye and Trapper’s attempt to get one. A general is giving a press conference and is angered by all the questions about incubators. The money quote:

    This is a press conference! The last thing i want to do is answer a bunch of questions!

    Good stuff.

  52. - OneMan - Wednesday, Feb 21, 24 @ 3:39 pm:

    Who does this?
    People who don’t seem to know what they are doing…

    Hope our local institutions of higher learning are using his administration as an example of how not to do press relations

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