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The [Friday] Papers

U.S. troops can't even secure Baghdad, which the Tribune rightly plays across the top of its front page today. The war is a disaster, and anyone who argues otherwise is being intellectually dishonest. Even the president is now invoking the moment in Vietnam when America realized it was losing the war.

In the Sun-Times, as much a war cheerleader as any paper the world over, "U.S. Admits 'Disheartening' Results" can be found on page 36.

Green Spleen
The Tribune has discovered Rich Whitney. After the Tribune editorial board kept Whitney out of it private little gubernatorial debate despite the fact that Whitney is on the ballot, and despite the fact that Whitney is polling 9 percent with no media coverage and only a third respondents in a recent survey having heard of him, the paper tries to make good by putting him on page one today.

Of course, the paper is predictably condescending. "Credibility remains a serious issue for the Greens," Crystal Yednak writes. As opposed to who, the Republicans and Democrats?

"While Whitney has grand ideas for reforming the Illinois system, ideas that some would brush off as impossible, he speaks about them in a very practical sense, guiding audiences step-by-step through his plans in a way that makes large-scale reforms seem within reach," Yednak writes.

That might be a charitable write-up, but we never really learn just what proposals of Whitney's are so easily brushed off as impossible - the tax swap mentioned that he favors for education funding is a position held by former Gov. Jim Edgar, former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dawn Clark Netsch, and, I believe, Mayor Richard M. Daley, Gov. Rod Blagojevich (although he hasn't put any political capital behind it), and, if I'm not mistaken, the Tribune editorial page. It's the consensus solution that is not reality mostly because of a few folks in the General Assembly who have been able to block it and gubernatorial candidates are afraid to continue campaigning on it.

All we really learn about the rest of Whitney's agenda, which is certainly more substantial than that put forth by Judy Baar Topinka, is that he favors "clean energy, clean government, healthy people and health economy."

Yes, that certainly is a problem, and doesn't in any way sound similar to the rhetoric of the other candidates.

The real question isn't the Green Party's credibility, it's how reporters can continue to take the Republicans and Democrats seriously despite a daily drenching of lies, obfuscation, corruption, greed, and sheer ineffectiveness.

Maybe the media sees a bit of itself in those guys.

Unfriendly Environment
The Sun-Times has not discovered Rich Whitney. I'm pretty sure his name has appeared in the paper, but a search of the site under Whitney's name yields zero results.

[UPDATE: A Lexis/Nexis search shows Whitney's name has appeared in the Sun-Times 10 times in the last year, almost entirely in passing: Four times in news stories that gave him single, obligatory mentions; four times in Op-Ed columns that gave him approving but passing mentions; and in two letters, one about funding education through gambling revenue and the other from the chairman of the Will County Green Party. So, in other words, the Sun-Times has failed to provide voters with even the most rudimentary information about a candidate who is one of just three on the ballot in the governor's race and who is indisputably - regardless of ideology - more impressive than many current Illinois officeholders.]

"If electability were not an issue, the choice would be easy in this year's governorer's race," Henry Bayer, the executive director of the state American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council, wrote in a union newsletter, according to the Tribune's account. "Rich Whitney, the Green Party candidate, is in sync with the union on virtually every issue."

Maybe Whitney would be more "electable" if the media treated him like an adult, rather than a cute curiosity.

Beyond that, "electability" is among the most cynical (and wrongheaded) formulations in American politics. George W. Bush certainly didn't seem electable - twice - at various times of his presidential campaigns, not to mention his challenge of Gov. Ann Richards. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura weren't the most "electable" candidates for governor when their campaigns began. Hell, Barack Obama wasn't considered an "electable" candidate for U.S. Senate in a field including party nominee Dan Hynes, multi-millionaire Blair Hull, and Daley education board chairman Gery Chico - especially after Obama was crushed when he challenged Bobby Rush for his congressional seat.

And neither the Detroit Tigers nor the St. Louis Cardinals seemed "electable" to the World Series this year.

What politics, sports, and history teach us is that thinking about what's realistic is the most unrealistic thinking we could do. World history exists only because of people and events we could never imagine. Predictions rarely come true, and what's deemed "realistic" rarely turns out to be what really happens.

Credibility Gap
Speaking of credibility, Dennis Byrne doesn't have any but he still gets space in a major metropolitan newspaper.

Speaking of credibility, Victor Davis Hanson doesn't have any but he still gets space in a major metropolitan newspaper.

"With Democratic operatives like City Hall's favorite crisis manager David Axelrod pulling the strings, I'm waiting for Barack to change his last name to O'Bama."

- John Kass

Missing in Action
"Where's Hizzoner?" the Sun-Times asks, as it mimics a high school newspaper in pasting photos of Richie and Maggie in front of various locations such as the Eiffel Tower. Answer: He's in the Tribune, which actually has a reporter in London dispatching a report of the mayor's visit there.

(The Sun-Times wacky photo montage is unavailable online as far as I can tell.)

Race Cards
The mayor fails to show the same fury over his failure to award city contracts to minorities as he was able to muster against proponents of the big-box ordinance whom he accused of being racist.

Where's Hizzoner?
Wait a minute. The City Council is holding budget hearings and Daley isn't even in town?

Old Media
The Sun-Times accidentally published a story today from 1991 - "Great Taste! Less Swilling! Specialty Brews Changing the Image of Beer" - on the cover of its weekend guide.

The Sun-Times that arrived on my doorstop this morning still didn't know which team had won Game 7 of the National League Championship Series last night to advance to the World Series.

The Sun-Times published a column this morning about Chicago's Olympic logo with a black-and-white graphic. Um, the colors are kind of key, guys.

The online version of the logo story doesn't even include the black-and-white graphic. So, yeah, the online version of the story is even less visual than the print version.

(Shouldn't the city make an online version of its Olympic logo that has the flaming skyline moving, as if in the wind?)

Sun-Times Media Group stock reached a 52-week low this week, as did the actual quality of the newspaper.

You couldn't read about the Sun-Times' financial problems in the Sun-Times, though you could read about it in the Tribune and Crain's Chicago Business, among other news outlets across the country. You could read in the Sun-Times today about Tribune Company's "earnings dip" though.

Electric Shock Therapy
Steve Huntley, who still has not written a correction for misstaing the findings in Hubris about Plamegate, unsurprisingly thinks Exelon's John Rowe is worth every penny of the $27 million he receives each year for making the electric utility the most profitable in the industry based on your electricity rates (column is unavailable online). Huntley, who isn't the smartest cookie in the jar, compares Rowe's salary to Shaquille O'Neal's $20 million contract; Michael Vick's $23.1 million contract; and Alex Rodriguez's $21.6 mijllion contract.

Of course, O'Neal, Vick, and Rodriquez are international superstars whose taletns are considerably rarer than those demanded of an electric utility CEO, not to mention all the other obvious reasons why such a comparison is pure folly. Huntley, not the sharpest pencil in the drawer, accuses Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn of attacking Rowe's compensation after running out of arguments against the coming elecricity rate hike, as if the profitablity and executive pay of ComEd and its head honchos is irrelevant to the issue at hand. Yet it is Huntley who finds it relevant to attack Quinn's successful petition-drive in 1978 to reduce the size of the General Assembly.

Steve Huntley is the editorial page editor of a (theoretically) major metropolitan newspaper.

Steinberg Watch
Neil Steinberg met with state supreme court Judge Anne Burke but failed to ask about the way she was shoehorned into the job in a way far more offensive than Todd Stroger's bid for Cook County board president. Maybe he just turns to mush with all public figures he wants to be friends with, as he writes about again in his latest Obama item.

Bear With It
After splashing the crucial issue of who would drive their son back and forth for visits on their front page earlier this month, the Sun-Times follows up a day late with the final arrangements in the Urlacher child custody case - they'll meet halfway! - in a paragraph on page 46.

The Sun-Times endorsed Rod Blagojevich this morning. I'll have more on this early next week.

Garbage Disposal
The Sun-Times, picking up on Barack Obama's confessed lack of kitchen skills, asked women on the street about the quality of their husbands' help in the kitchen. Of course they did. Did I mention their stock was at a 52-week low?

When Sneed says she "has learned" that Jesse Jackson Jr. is recruiting aldermanic candidates, that means she's been catching up on a year's worth of papers. (Today's column unavailable online.)

Blame Game
It's not Daley's fault. He just hires the malingerers. It's up to Burke to pay them.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Working comp all the time.


Posted on October 20, 2006

MUSIC - A Plan To Pay Musicians.
TV - Local TV News By Amazon.
POLITICS - Nursing Homes Fought Safety Regs.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Baseball Is Blowing It.

BOOKS - Black Activism In The Civil War Midwest.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Weird Shit Field Museum Workers Keep At Home.

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