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The [Tuesday] Papers

"A new assessment by American intelligence agencies released Monday concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen, contradicting a judgment two years ago that Tehran was working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb," the New York Times reports this morning in a front-page story with a bold, four-column, two-deck headline.

"Rarely, if ever, has a single intelligence report so completely, so suddenly, and so surprisingly altered a foreign policy debate here," the Times wrote in an accompanying front-page analysis from Washington.

The Tribune also put the story atop its front page this morning, stating that "U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that international pressure has succeeded in compelling the Islamic Republic to back away from its pursuit of the bomb."

The Tribune account notes that "As recently as October, President Bush was warning that a nuclear armed Iran couldlead to 'World War III,' and Vice President Dick Cheney threatened Iran with 'serious consequences' if it did not abandon its nuclear program."

The Tribune also produced an editorial under the headline "A Bombshell On Iran."

The Sun-Times also covered the news. With two paragraphs on page 22 under "Teddy Teacher Jets Home After Getting Pardon," beside an ad from Pro American Windows, and above a Salvation Army ad asking for donated cars, boats, trucks, campers and RVs.


I know the Sun-Times is (theoretically) a locally focused newspaper, but does it really do its readers a service by increasing their ignorance? Do the paper's editors assume its readers get their real news somewhere else? Or are they just not very bright?

Besides, all news is local. Chicagoans fight in wars, pay for wars with their taxes, and rehabilitate wounded veterans who return from those wars. Chicagoans also vote, and Iran is one of the top issues in the current presidential campaign. And some Chicagoans are even Iranian. Or anti-Iranian.

There's no excuse.


Even if the paper insists upon being tabloidish, several options existed for playing the Iran story with headlines blazing.

- "Iran Shooting Blanks!"
- "World War III Called Off!"
- "Impeach Bush!"


Instead, the Sun-Times gave its front page to a curious home foreclosure story: "Middle Class And Out Of A Home."

"The home mortgage meltdown isn't just gutting the poorer parts of town," the paper declares. "It's beginning to slam Chicago's wealthy and middle-class neighborhoods."

So now that it's not just about poor people, we care.

Web Cred
The Iran story, however, is (as of 8 a.m.) nowhere to be found on the Tribune's home page. I guess that's understandable. After all, there is that big snow alert that's just been issued.

Earth to Neil
"You can't see the problem there, Mr. Steinberg?" Mary Mitchell writes to her Sun-Times columning colleague. "Really?"

Earth to Mary
On the other hand, I have to ding Mitchell for her column on Sunday, "Why Aren't the Cops Hassling Peterson?"

"Why isn't Drew Peterson in jail?" Mitchell asks.

Well, because the police don't have enough evidence to charge him. Unless you consider the Sun-Times smear campaign evidence.

"Obviously, Peterson is innocent until proven guilty," she continues.

And yet, she wants him in jail.

"But he has been called a suspect by top officials with the State Police. It seems strange that he is still out and about."

Maybe in North Korea, but this is America. Is Mitchell advocating that we now toss all suspects in the clink?

See, a lot of people are suspects. You and I could be suspects. That's what police do when they investigate crimes. They compile a list of suspects. And then they try to solve the crime. When they think they have, they charge a suspect. And if the case goes to trial, the suspect gets to try to prove the cops wrong.

It used to be that journalists understood this, and thus didn't publish the names of suspects until they were charged.

Now journalists want to convict them first and have police jail them. The charges can come later.


I'm not unaware of the larger point Mitchell was (I think, anyway) trying to make: That the cops weren't hassling the white Drew Peterson the same way they are allegedly hassling the black Reginald Potts Jr., who has been "linked" to the missing Nailah Franklin.

Mitchell senses racial inequity. Even if true, the answer wouldn't be to lock them both up. The answer would be to afford suspects every right bestowed upon them by the Constitution even while trying to make a case.

Besides, Peterson has been hassled plenty - by Mitchell's own newspaper.

Lakeshore Living
"Northwestern University has found a buyer for the former Lakeshore Athletic Club, 850 N. Lake Shore Drive, that will save the building and turn it into housing for senior citizens," the Sun-Times reports.

It wouldn't have happened if not for the preservation activists. This is a win for Chicago against the forces of evil.

In Today's Beachwood
* Our very own Jim Coffman has another installment of Hawk TV!.

* Part 2 of our week-long series by J.J. Tindall about a guy and a girl and maybe another girl and some alcohol and art and artists and all sorts of things like that. It's called A Hole To China, and it's excerpted from what J.J. hopes will soon be a published novel.

Beachwood Tip Line: Break the news.


Posted on December 4, 2007

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike An Old Story.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Kanye, Chili, Jimmy, Tarik.

BOOKS - Conway Barbour & The Black Middle Class.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Recall! Malone's Pork Head Cheese.

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