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The [Tuesday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

Todd Stroger just keeps digging the hole deeper and deeper.

Last night, in a combative interview with Carol Marin on Chicago Tonight about the Tony Cole-Donna Dunnings fiasco, Stroger said "I'm sure employees get arrested all the time."

That prompted Stroger's office to issue a statement this morning essentially blaming the planet's pesky human population for misinterpreting what Stroger meant - which still isn't entirely clear.

I don't want to repeat myself so you can read more over at in a post titled "Stroger: Worst. Hack. Ever." The subhead is: "Cook County Board President's incompetence is unrivaled."

But wait - there's more. This morning on Good Day Chicago - and I saw this after I wrote the post - Stroger dug even deeper into his own doo-doo.

First, he said that firing Dunnings had nothing to do with Tony Cole. Instead, he said that Dunnings had long been planning to find another job anyway and this was just "a good time."

Of course, Stroger has already said that he fired Dunnings because he didn't think she'd be effective in her job given the media's insistence on asking about Tony Cole. I guess he never thought to apply the same standard to himself.

Stroger also blamed the Illinois State Police for not completing a background check on Cole. I don't know if Stroger has a valid point here - I doubt it - but he said that the ISP does background checks for the county, but the county's requests often fall to the bottom of the line behind requests from other governmental units.

Then Stroger complained that his plan to roll back the county sales by a quarter for every $100 spent wasn't getting sufficient media coverage.

And then that he and the county took way more flak over their sales tax increase than state legislators over transportation tax hikes, and that "something is askew in media and politics in this city."

I think that's code for "Paging Bobby Rush!"

COMMENT 12:38 P.M.: From Michael O'Connor:

Stroger made an even more idiotic presentation on WGN radio's morning show. He made deliberate reference to the North Side, as in the four commissioners who continually oppose his lunacy. The connotation being the the commissioners from the South Side and South Suburbs (who, open secret, are black) don't oppose him.

He dodged the question about most of his hiring choices, saying he just had three relatives on the county payroll and most had been there 15 to 20 years. But he did not address the hiring of friends, acquaintances, or tenuous political connections to others.

He repeatedly refused to answer the basic question of why Dunnings was fired, and gave the most nonsensical defense of how he could place a restaurant waiter in a 5-figure salaried position and not expect people to question that.

The only effective statement he made was that the tax increase helped keep open the public health system in the County, and he said that mostly as an aside.

It's clear that he lives and operates in his own world, ever the victim, and with what a trained clinician would state is, "an over-emphasized sense of his own self."

BREAKING BLAGO: Judge denies Blago "reality" trip.

See also "Is Blago A Flight Risk?"

Alton Logan
The story of former Death Row inmate Alton Logan getting an official certificate of innocence didn't get a lot of play, but the man spent 26 years in jail for a murder he didn't commit.

This is the case that landed on 60 Minutes when two attorneys admitted they knew the conviction was wrong but didn't speak up in order to protect attorney-client privilege.

Pulitzer Pablum
The fact that the Pulitzer Prize people rejected our nomination of the Mystery Debate Theater series in the online-only commentary category (among other nominations) because our site was deemed to be lacking in sufficient original reporting to qualify - yes, to qualify for commentary categories and despite winning national investigative reporting awards more than once - is compounded by the fact that Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post won for best commentary in the print category. (Why there should be a distinction, especially when Robinson's work also appears online, and surely has a larger audience there, is yet another tired example of the failure of newspaper people to grasp the concept of what they do.)

Robinson is the genius who wrote this:

"Is Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich about to be impeached on grounds of loopiness, obnoxiousness and a bad haircut? Apparently so. In defense of the Illinois state senators who seem to have already decided the governor's fate, however, the haircut really does border on the criminal.

"But it is unclear to me what else Blagojevich has done that a duly constituted jury would find illegal. Even in the matter of his menacing mop, at worst he's a co-conspirator in a dastardly act committed by his barber."

Even if you want to give everyone a mulligan - and that's an awfully big one - Robinson deserves no such pass. For years Robinson has been one of the worst offenders of peddling half-truths, outright falsehoods and mythical narratives with no relation to reality from both is perch at the Post and as one of the gang on MSNBC, and his award-winning 2008 was no exception.

The Pulitzer committee ended up not awarding any prizes in its online-only category. I guess there wasn't an online operation in all the land that produced anything as unknowingly telling as Robinson's work.


Really, I just wanted Andrew Kingsford and Tim Willette to be able to tell their parents they were nominated for a Pulitzer.

But we really did have the best debate coverage and commentary on the planet.


Mainstream media folks who praise the Beachwood often use the word "authentic" when talking to me. I find this curious. Isn't "authentic" kind of the point of journalism - as opposed to the inauthentic we are supposed to expose?

Sometimes I think about the way alt-country was described in its early days as "too country for country." Sometimes I think the Beachwood - and other new forms out there - is too journalism for journalism.

We can't really call ourselves alt-journalism because that's taken and has a different connotation. But maybe we can call ourselves anti-journalism because we're so, um, authentic.


Or as I told the folks at the annual convention of the International Newspaper Marketing Association, you say you want authenticity, but you can't handle authenticity.

Lost In Translation
Blago is Serbian for page views.

Blackhawk Blooper


The Beachwood Tip Line: In flames.


Posted on April 21, 2009

MUSIC - Madonna vs. Moderna.
TV - Sundays With The Military-Industrial Complex.
POLITICS - Private Equity In The ER.
SPORTS - Suspicious Betting Trends In Soccer.

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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