The [Friday] Papers
When I first saw the Sun-Times headline "Federal Prosecutor Refuses To Say Whether Obama Pal Whitaker Is A Target" (since changed - but not everywhere) on Thursday afternoon, I thought "Ha! I told you so!"
But I was also puzzled that such a refusal would make for a headline in a Chicago newspaper.
As the Tribune reports, "That's a standard response from a U.S. attorney."
U.S. attorneys generally don't like disclosing who is or isn't a target of their investigations - at least until or unless it becomes strategically beneficial to leak such information. It's not a headline, that's for sure.
That's why it was such a big deal when former U.S. Attorney Scott Lassar publicly announced that George Ryan, then running for governor, was not a target in the licenses-for-bribes probe in which he eventually went to prison. Oops!
Investigations can take twists and turns; witnesses can come forth or potential targets can become witnesses. It's not a good idea to prematurely clear someone - and that goes for the media too.
I understand that reporters - and more likely, their fearful editors (or those up the food chain who attend cocktail parties with a veritable slew of folks who may one day be targets of federal investigations) - want to be "fair," except in cases like, say, posting mug shots of poor slobs yet to be convicted of anything, but the fairest thing you can do for your readers, whom you owe far more allegiance to than the subjects of your news reports, is to simply state what you know and not go beyond that.
None of us have any idea if Eric Whitaker is or will become a target of federal investigators. I'm sure he can cope with that fact. If he feels he's being tainted by association, then maybe he should be more careful about who he associates with.
He's also free to speak to reporters instead of issuing mealy-mouthed "statements."
The Sun-Times notes, by the way, that in 2008 "Whitaker described [the indicted Quinshaunta] Golden as 'an exceptional manager and leader who I credit for much of our success at IDPH.' He also praised her 'skills and dedication.'"
"The Chicago Sun-Times got an exclusive look Thursday at the final routes in the 'Safe Passage' program."
Please. The Tribune wrote a critical story about the program on Wednesday and the Sun-Times gets an "exclusive" purporting all is well on Thursday. Great work, Sun-Times!
A better story would have been to report how the Emanuel administration shopped an exclusive to shore up their PR around a controversial program in which kids' lives are at stake.
Also, for the millionth time, it's not an exclusive nor a scoop to report something minutes, hours or even days before it will become known to everyone else just the same - unless you consider being used better than the next guy a great journalistic skill.
Weiss is free to her opinion, particularly as a critic, but she's not free to soften the definition of profiling into something that occurs to everyone - thus rendering the very concept moot.
Being Bill Daley
Irony doesn't begin to cover it. Chutzpah?
"But in a nightmare for Daley's image-makers, a garbage truck backed into the alley behind Daley to pick up a load when he said it."
For the uninitiated, from Dan Mihalopoulos at the Sun-Times:
If it was a city Streets and Sanitation Department truck, chances are high it was driven by someone hired as reward for loyal service to Richard M. Daley's political organization.
Bill Daley's campaign is based largely on being the strong leader that Pat Quinn isn't. But he was too afraid to tell his brother to knock it off? Iron Guts Daley!
Of course, I don't believe it for a second. Privately, Bill was anguished about the way Richie practiced politics? And to think that all that time Bill was given credit in the press for being the brains in the family and his brother's closest adviser.
Court testimony in one of the federal corruption cases that effectively dismantled Richard M. Daley's political machine indicated that Bill Daley did not merely know what was being done for his brother's sake. In the 2009 trial of the top Streets and San man Al Sanchez, the feds put a witness on the stand who said he saw Bill Daley take a hands-on role in helping his brother rebuild their father's machine.
Bill Daley, though, doesn't want to talk about the past. Never mind that he just posted a photo of him in the Situation Room when American troops were completing their mission to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden. That kind of past we can talk about. But not the past like, say, his brother's notorious parking meter deal.
"[T]he first Mayor Daley hired a firm to inspect parking meters for the city, which quickly decided to buy its insurance from a brokerage newly formed by Bill and John Daley," the Tribune notes.
Apparently Bill has evolved since then.
"You can go back over the last 10, 20 years or 30 years, we're talking about a governor who's been alleging he's a reformer," Daley said. "A man who stood with Blagojevich twice for election."
As did your old boss, Bill, the president. In fact, Barack Obama was far more enthusiastic about Blago than Quinn ever was.
Everyone wants to be a reformer these days. Even Joe Berrios ran as a reformer. It's an acknowledgement by the Machine hacks that the public is thirsting for reform - and that talking about change is the way to get elected. But conveniently picking up the mantle of reform just in time for a campaign doesn't make one a reformer; it just makes one a phony. In the Democratic primary for governor, we've now got two of those.
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Posted on August 9, 2013
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