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The [Friday] Papers

House Speaker and Illinois congressman Dennis Hastert (R-Yorkville) got the "I'm Deeply Sorry" headlines he wanted today - at least in the Tribune and the Sun-Times, though the story was different elsewhere, as we shall see - though anyone who saw him give his brief, prepared statement yesterday could see that he was far more sorry that his job was in jeopardy than he was about his role in the congressional page scandal.

The Tribune's coverage continues to destroy that of the largely disengaged Sun-Times, though both have been behind the national media.

Today's front pages also show that The New York Times and Washington Post weren't willing to let Hastert write his own headline. Even venturing as far as The Decatur Daily, of Alabama, a paper I picked at random, you can see that "I'm Deeply Sorry" didn't wash; their front page Hastert story is "Panel Launches Scandal Probe." Their lead story is "Battle For Baghdad Begins To Heat Up."

As a reader, it makes you think differently about the news, doesn't it?

Most interesting in the local coverage today, though, is a Tribune editorial that persuasively explains why Hastert ought to resign without meaning to.

The Looming Tower
So let me get this straight. Two consecutive publishers and - so-far one editor - of the Los Angeles Times are fired (the current editor, Dean Baquet, may still be on his way out the door), a publisher and (Pulitzer Prize winning) editor at the Baltimore Sun are fired, staffs are in rebellion not only in Los Angeles and Baltimore but Hartford, civic leaders in all three cities are begging the Tribune Company to sell them their newspapers . . . and it's everybody else's fault but Tribune management's?

It's like, have you ever had a friend to whom you had to say, look, if everyone has a problem with you you might want to consider that you are the problem, not everybody else?

Courageless in Chicago
"In 1846 when the United States was at war with Mexico Thoreau chose to go to jail rather than pay taxes that would be used to support a war he thought was unjust," the story goes. "When Emerson went to visit his friend in jail, he said, 'Henry, what are you doing in there?' Thoreau replied, 'Waldo, what are you doing out there?'"

I thought of this while wondering why it is that Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski seems to be the only one in the Tribune chain without a problem acceding to slashing her paper to bits. Not only that, but I haven't heard her speaking up for Baquet or Johnson, just as she never spoke up for previously ousted Times editor John Carroll or previously ousted editor Bill Marimow - considered two of the best in the business (with reputations certainly eclipsing hers.) And where is the Chicago newsroom in all of this? Dennis FitzSimons can't fire the whole company.

Numbers Game
There's no such thing as having too many reporters - as is apparently the problem in L.A. - only too few ideas for how to deploy them. And if you can't deploy them in ways that will increase circulation, you shouldn't be in charge.

The Greene Room
It's looking more and more like Mark Foley's behavior was an open secret. The Tribune will have to tread lightly on chastisting Hastert for ignoring this or being so out-of-touch with his members that he was unaware of it, because that's just what Lipinski and her minions argued about Bob Greene, whose behavior was widely known to everyone else.

Sneedling I
Sneed's lead item today: "Sneed hears rumbles that House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been advised to form an independent oversight committee to investigate the blossoming congressional page sex scandal engulfing former U.S. Congressman Mark Foley."

Yes. I hear those rumbles too. They come from the TV.

"The oversight committee . . . is being whispered as a possibility by Washington wags."

Yes. They are whispering about that on TV.

Talk about stealing a paycheck.

Sneedling II
So-Called Austin Mayor responds to Sneed's Thursday column:

In today's column Michael Sneed said:

Sneed hears a ghost from the political past may soon resurface.

* Translation: Sneed hears the case of former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds, a Chicago Dem who was imprisoned for child pornography and criminal sexual assault of a 16-year-old campaign worker, may resurface in the congressional page scandal.

* To wit: Whispers from Washington are that top GOPers reeling from the political uproar surrounding their handling of former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley's (R-Fla.) sexually explicit instant messages may counter with Reynolds.

* The reason: He was pardoned by President Clinton in 2001.

* The warning: Reynolds served his full five-year sentence for sexual assault. The pardon was for unrelated federal charges of bank and campaign fraud.

In fact, Mr. Reynolds was not pardoned for any of his crimes.

Rather, Reynolds served his entire sentence for his sex crime and forty-two months in prison for the bank fraud. After Reynolds served forty-two months for bank fraud, President Clinton commuted the remainder of that sentence and Reynolds was released from prison and served the remaining time in a half way house.

Had Mr. Reynolds been pardoned he would have been released and not have served time in prison and a half way house.

A columnist or editor could check such facts in mere moments on the Internet, e.g., http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/pardons6b.htm.

- Austin Mayor

Sneedling III
Headline we'd like to see: "Sneed: 'I'm Deeply Sorry.'"

Subhead we'd like to see: "Columnist to Resign: 'It's Time'"

Sneedling IV
Sneed "got the first response" from outgoing Ambassdor to Ireland James C. Kenny and his wife as they returned home to Chicago and found out they planned to eat cheeseburgers and watch the Bears. Sneed failed to ask the Kennys about, oh, say, her close friend George Ryan trying to lay the appointment of Larry Warner to the McPier board at his feet.

Breaking News!
Alderman's car -with anniversary ring inside - stolen! And then returned! With ring intact! Page 4, two photos.

Time Machine
"He also shores up support among independents shaken by two years of scandal," Fran Spielman writes about the mayor's appointment of state Sen. Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago) to the city clerk's job. Why does the clock on Daley's scandals start in 2004 instead of 1989?

Journalistic Assault
Jonah Goldberg, whose column-writing skills are apparently superior to anyone else in the entire nation that the Tribune could find to place on their Op-Ed page, accuses Bill Clinton of rape today, which the Tribune had no problem publishing.

It is funny, though, to see conservatives argue that the Foley scandal highlights the hypocrisy of Democrats, not Republicans. What's next, the quagmire in Iraq is Al Franken's fault?

Hastert's Hold
"He's not only a father but a former high school wrestling coach with a deserved reputation as an advocate for children," the Sun-Times says in its editorial today about Hastert.

What in the world is the media's fascination with Hastert's job as a wrestling coach 26 years ago? And since when are wrestling coaches known for their virtue? Hastert's previous vocation as a wrestling coach is as insignificant as George Ryan's stint as a pharmacist. Christ, my first after-school job was in a candy packaging warehouse, but I don't expect to forever be known as a chocolatier.

Movie Madness
Our very own Marilyn Ferdinand will be tracking the Chicago International Film Festival for us this weekend. Also not to be missed: The Chicago Horror Film Festival and the Music Box Massacre. Plan accordingly.

Radio Flyers
Rock crits Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot will commemmorate the 30th anniversary of Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life on Sound Opinions this week - Saturday, 7 p.m., WBEZ-FM (91.5). Or, if you're so inclined, tune in to gambling guru John Grochowski at the same time on WCKG-FM (105.9). He'll be taking calls.

In the Reporter
* The Life At Work column ends its run - with a fine farewell column.

* Barista! Tales From the Coffee Front starts in its place on Monday.

* The last installment of Wicker Park Days also runs today. Go back and read the entire essay.

* If you haven't been reading What I Watched Last Night, you're really missing out.

* Is there a more interesting collection of material anywhere in Chicago? We don't think so either. Help us move forward. We hope to have Membership Benefits soon. We also accept advertising. Contact us for more information.

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Posted on October 6, 2006


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Vizio Settles Spying Complaints.
POLITICS - WikiLeaks Reveals Staggering Breadth Of CIA Hacking.
SPORTS - Fantasy Fix Draft Guide Pt. 3: The Professor!

BOOKS - Bannon, The Best And The Brightest.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: Ray Rayner & Friends.


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