The [Thursday] Papers
Our esteemed local newspapers still can't quite get it right when it comes to Jon Burge.
"It took many years and untold effort before Burge himself was brought to justice, but in the end the legal system did what was needed to achieve justice," the Sun-Times editorial page said on Monday.
Convicting Burge for perjuring himself about torture with which he was never charged is hardly achieving justice. Unfortunately, justice will never be achieved when it comes to Jon Burge, and the Sun-Times ought to marshal its forces to explain why - including its own failure to take the torture allegations seriously when John Conroy was masterfully laying out the indisputable facts for years in the Reader. He waited and waited and waited for his reporting colleagues to jump aboard and when they finally did, nearly 20 years after his first expose, it was too little, too late.
It would be awfully instructive to hear reporters and editors talk about the discussions that went on in newsrooms - likely very brief discussions - that led to a virtual media blackout about Burge back then. What was it that led our tough Chicago press corps to doubt the evidence that torture took place - or to dismiss it as unimportant?
Such a discussion would not just be for posterity; the problem still exists. Just consider the relative lack of interest shown by the local media in Burge's trial last year. It's bizarre.
"Now, we have an opportunity to do the same for those who may have suffered at the hands of Burge or his detectives, just as - as we wrote last week - we have a chance to settle the lawsuits filed against Burge, his accomplices and the city," the Sun-Times continued.
"As Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday, 'How old is this now - 30 years old? . . . It is time we end it.'
"It's time we put the disgraceful and long-running Burge saga behind us. Anything less would be the very definition of harmful error."
Agreed. But don't you see what's going on here, Sun-Times? Rahm Emanuel, who heretofore has had nothing to say about Burge over the course of his entire political career - not a single thing before this year, according to the archives - thinks it's time to settle and the end the saga just weeks before Richard M. Daley is (suddenly) scheduled to be deposed. Get it?
Settle, yes. But question Daley under oath first. We deserve answers, not another whitewash. Saving Daley from a deposition would just be the final piece of the cover-up.
Cover-up? Hey, don't take it from me. Here's what the Tribune editorial page said this week:
"Taxpayers are stuck with all of this not only because Burge and his crew obtained confessions from suspects by beating them, shocking their genitals and putting plastic bags over their heads, but because city and law enforcement officials turned a blind eye to the abuse."
Turning a blind eye is a willful action.
But the Tribune fails to name names. Which city officials? The former mayor you endorsed six times over two decades? At what point did you realize he was culpable - if he's one of the city officials you're referring to? Because you never mentioned Burge in your appraisal last April.
And again, what about the blind eye the media turned for so long?
"If a settlement is reached, Daley may not have to testify about allegations that he directed a city-wide cover-up of torture allegations," Fox Chicago News noted this week in a place safe enough to escape notice.
Isn't that kind of a big deal?
Nothing Ridiculous To See Here
"Stunning allegations of rampant NCAA violations at the school and millions of dollars in impermissible gifts from one rogue booster being lavished on student-athletes came out in a highly detailed Yahoo Sports report that names Devin Hester as one of more than 70 athletes involved.
"Hester, who is pictured with Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro in multiple photos in the Yahoo report, declined to discuss the situation Wednesday, a day after he said he didn't know the man who is serving 20 years in federal prison after being convicted of running a $930 million Ponzi scheme."
Never heard of him. Um . . .
"As for Hester's claim that he doesn't know Shapiro, the Yahoo article includes a photo of Hester sitting in Shapiro's VIP section of Opium Garden nightclub in 2003 and another photo of Hester with Shapiro at an October 2003 dinner the booster allegedly paid for at Japanese-themed steakhouse Benihana."
Well, a guy gets his photo taken with a lot of people. Doesn't mean he knows them.
"According to the Yahoo article, Hester allegedly received rims for his SUV, $3,000 for an engagement ring, cash bounties for game performances and NBA playoff tickets through Shapiro."
Did Shapiro personally deliver the rims? I mean, maybe he knew a guy who knew a guy and, hey, who knows how those rims got on my car.
"The Yahoo article says a source corroborated Shapiro's account of Hester receiving food, entertainment and lodging in the booster's home, saying Hester was having roommate problems and stayed with Shapiro for a sustained period."
"Devin Hester is now available for celebrity appearances, corporate appearances, personal appearances, casino appearances, tradeshow appearances, convention appearances, celebrity golf tournaments, coaching clinics, corporate sales meetings, autograph signings, endorsement deals, website endorsements, television commercials, radio commercials, store grand openings, VIP Meet & Greets, new product launch campaigns, spokesperson campaigns and speaking engagements. Hire Devin Hester to meet and mingle with your best corporate clients, friends and business associates."
"As far as the Bears and the NFL are concerned, the story is mostly a non-issue," Biggs writes.
"It doesn't affect Hester's standing with the team, just as the Reggie Bush USC probe didn't involve the Saints directly. In this instance, there's no national championship team Hester was on, and he didn't win a Heisman Trophy."
So let's get this straight: As long as wrongdoing isn't exposed while a football player is still in college he can get a free pass; bonus for not being named the player of the year or winning a championship.
"That's the University of Miami's issue," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. "It's unfortunate that it does go on in college. That's why they have the NCAA, and the NCAA always does its due diligence. Whatever wrongs there are, they'll find out."
A lesson for the kids: Sports build character. Er, I mean, just don't get caught too soon.
"Hopefully, it's just a bad rumor," Angelo said.
Apparently Angelo isn't aware that Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been repealed.
Amazingly, Rick Telander spews a world of vitriol about the situation without mentioning Hester's name.
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Posted on August 18, 2011
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