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The [Monday] Papers

Someone resigned in disgrace over the weekend, and his story made the front page of the Sun-Times. The fact that it wasn't Andy MacPhail is just the latest indictment of the return of Michael Cooke to the editorship of the paper.

While the Sun-Times gave over its cover to the "Sex Scandal In Congress" in which Rep. Mark Foley - of Florida - resigned on Friday, it had nary a mention - none, zippo - of the surprise resignation/firing of Cubs president Andy MacPhail.

The Foley story is important - especially in that it may implicate Republican congressional leadership including hometown Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert in a cover-up just weeks before the midterm elections - but it's a story with legs. We'll be hearing a lot about it as it unfolds. The big stories in Chicago today are the Bears win - if only because it was so convincing - and MacPhail's departure.

Cooke apparently doesn't know the difference between a sex story and a sexy story.

The Cubs are sexy. Congress is not.

The Tribune front page, by contrast, managed to place MacPhail's resignation above its nameplate, along with the Dusty Baker quote "I'm gone." Below the nameplate: "Bears Make Statement In Rout." Aside that story, in bolder type signifying the most serious story of the day: "FBI Says Foley Inquiry Started."

Usually I prefer not to get too micro in this column, unless I'm trying to make a larger point. The larger point here is that the return of Cooke to the Sun-Times editorship has already produced a week of almost bizarre covers at the paper; Cooke's return is a return to a misguided and silly attempt at running the tabloid-sized paper as a Tabloid, including a particularly untittilating emphasis on sex, usually of the gawking and misogynistic kind.

On Sunday - Sunday! - the Sun-Times's front page was totally absent of news. The big story: "TV Tonight: Who Will You Be Watching?" The choices: Rex Grossman and the Bears or Eva Longoria and the Desperate Housewives.

Desperation is certainly in the air with a lame cover like that.

Also promoted on Sunday's front page: An "exclusive" with Mike Tyson that turned out to be a blurb of an item that was just about the most inconsequential thing in the entire sports section. But "Fool the Reader" is back at the Sun-Times.

You might think, for example, that staff writer Jim Ritter reported the paper's Hastert story and that the Associated Press merely contributed. This is an old Fool the Reader Cooke gambit - giving a staff byline to what is essentially a wire story. This is how the paper used to cover the war in Iraq - when the paper was the largest of at least the top 20 in the nation to not embed a reporter with U.S. troops because, as now-publisher John Cruickshank explained at the time, the war was better covered from Washington, D.C.

The Sun-Times got a lot stupider with Cooke's return last week; it will give me plenty of material to feast on, true, but I'm not happy about it. It just makes me tired, and I'd rather be writing about a paper transforming itself into a sharp, smart jewel of local reporting and commentary. But you need sharp people at the top for that to happen, not third-rate would-be celebrity tabloid editors.

* According to news reports, it was decided in July that MacPhail would be sent packing. Why wasn't the actual move made then?

* The only mention of Steve Stone I found in the coverage was an aside at the bottom of this Phil Rogers piece. No mentions, though, of the recent sighting of Steve Stone dining with new interim Cubs president John McDonough last week.

* "We have a terrfiic general manager in Jim Hendry," McDonough said. I think he meant, "MacPhail already signed him to an extension so we feel like we're saddled with him because we don't want to replace him and pay two salaries." Because how can the president and the manager of a baseball team be held responsible but not the general manager? You could argue, in fact, that the general manager is most responsible of all, especially one who used to be in charge of player development and scouting.

* "There was a guy walking around in the stands - and I'll say idiot - with a sign saying Bye-Bye Dusty," Cubs relief pitcher Scott Eyre whined. "He didn't mean it in a nice way. I'm sorry, but that's horsecrap."

Earth to Eyre: That guy pays your multi-million dollar salary, and Dusty's too. Let him hold a sign.

* Hendry and Baker were both disturbed by a Sun-Times graphic on Saturday superimposing Baker's face on a piece of toast, according to a nugget buried in a Tribune report. They're right to be upset. Something was missing.

* We'll close out The Dusty & Ozzie Show today.

Your Bears Bandwagon Starter Kit
As seen in Quick Hits.

Wicker Park Days - In Five Parts
Today we start a five-part series about the New Bohemia of Wicker Park, as described by author Richard Lloyd and further distilled by our very own Joel C. Boehm. Appropriately enough, Boehm's series starts at Beach and Paulina. "Some nights we'd explore the exceptional jukebox down the street at the Beachwood Inn - my treat of course, which was no big deal because beer there was cheap for Chicago and Dave was happy drinking whatever was on special," Boehm writes. We hope you enjoy Wicker Park Days. [Part I]: Beach & Paulina.

From the Neil Steinberg School of Deep Thinking
Black people should stop whining.

From the Desk of Mary Mitchell
Neil Steinberg should stop whining.

From the Mary Laney School of Deep Thinking
Moderate Muslims should stop appearing on TV, radio, and in the press disavowing the radicals who have hijacked their religion and write her a letter to prove they exist.

From the Desk of the Beachwood Reporter
Mary Laney should stop writing.

Doth Protest Foie Too Much
"And yet, the Chicago City Council has been pre-occupied with an effort to ban foie gras from the city's restaurants," the Tribune editorial page complains today.

The ban passed with 48 to 1. The pre-occupation only started when the ban went into effect and opponents of the ban became crazed with losing the right to serve or eat a rich man's delicacy made from torturing geese until their internal organs explode. If this is such a waste of time, why don't the aldermen seeking repeal just drop it.

The mayor also escapes blame in the Trib editorial for misplaced priorities; the same mayor who found time to appoint a fashion czar but not a city clerk.

The editorial also blasts Joe Moore for conditions in his ward. I'm neutral on Moore - I haven't studied his record or his ward. But I know offhand there are a lot worse of both in the council. Moore has won re-election three times, but the Tribune bases its editorial in part on walking around the ward and finding dissatisifed residents.

And what if, on its walk around the ward, residents told the Tribune how thrilled they were with their alderman? Talk about sophistry.

Not only that, but I was under the impression that Daley had made the entire city so pretty you wanted to just put it under glass and gaze upon it lovingly forever. If Moore's ward has problems, perhaps the mayor should free up some city services - it's not like those are ever impacted by occasionally challenging the mayor.

Finally, when it comes to priorities, how does the edit page's stance of what a joke the council is - which is certainly true on the whole - square with the paper's weekly aldermanic blowjobs in its Sunday magazine by Rick Kogan, including this one of Joe Moore? Perhaps the newspaper would have more credibility if it got its priorities in order before questioning the priorities of every other institution in town.

The mayor met Vivica Fox, Oprah Winfrey, and Beyoncé Knowles in spearate appareances last week. The Sun-Times thought this was newsworthy, particlarly the hilarious mayoral quote, "Maggie was watching me." Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Stop it, please!

This was also kind of funny: The very last paragraph of the story reports that the mayor was in Washington, D.C. seeking funding for a new CTA line.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Side-splitting.


Posted on October 2, 2006

MUSIC - December In Chicago Drill.
TV - Don't Weaken Media Ownership Limits.
POLITICS - Another SRO Crisis.
SPORTS - TrackNotes: Mom.

BOOKS - How Stereo Was Sold To A Skeptical Public.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicago Footwork King's Bail Battle.

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