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The [Wednesday] Papers

"Mayor Daley hates questions about why, when he was the state's attorney and his first assistant was Dick Devine - who would become the state's attorney - they didn't investigate allegations of torture by Burge and his boys," Carol Marin wrote two Sundays ago. "That was 28 years ago, when photographs show police killer Andrew Wilson's face looked normal going into an interrogation room, but looked pounded and puffy just hours later.

"If that was a tragically missed opportunity to stop the torture of black men by white cops on the city's South and West sides, there were many other opportunities that we in media and others in power took a pass on."

The media on the whole still appears uninterested.

Today's Tribune account of the latest testimony, for example, is buried on the bottom of page 9 - beneath a relatively lengthy front-page exposition on "Blagojevich's Spirited Lawyers."

The Sun-Times's account today is on page 12 - behind such vital page 11 news as "10-Minute Workout Does A Body Good," "Moon Rock Found At Ex-Gov's House," and Richard Roeper's latest (and typically) dopey column about an overstated Matt Drudge headline, a quickie (what else?) comparison of the Blackhawks to the 2005 White Sox, and the lead item, "Gore Split-Up Not One Many Saw Coming."

It's not as if Tuesday's testimony - or last week's, which got the same skimpy coverage - was ho-hum.

For example, the Trib reports that "Just days after Andrew Wilson's 1982 arrest for the murders of two police officers, he appeared in court with cuts, burns and tiny marks on his ears and nose where Area 2 detectives allegedly attached wires to shock him with an electrical device, Wilson's then-lawyer said at the federal trial of former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge.

"'I whispered, Where did you get these injuries?' testified Dale Coventry, a Cook County assistant public defender at the time. 'He said, Police.'"

And:

"Earlier Tuesday, attorney Cassandra Watson said Burge once admitted to her that shocking suspects left little evidence of abuse.

"Watson - who represented a number of Gangster Disciples in the 1980s, including Melvin Jones, who alleged that he was tortured by Burge - said she used to ask Burge sarcastically about the "black box" on her visits to the Area 2 station.

"'He'd say, Oh, we're not bringing out the box today. What are you talking about, Watson? We don't have a black box,' Watson said. 'Once he said to me, The box leaves no marks.'

"But she said Jones' allegations that Burge shocked his genitals, struck him with a stapler and pointed a loaded gun at his head led Watson to change the way she sometimes handled clients who were arrested by Area 2 detectives.

"'On occasion, at least once or twice, I went to Area 2 and spent the night - with a sleeping bag and everything - until my clients were released,' Watson said."

The Sun-Times's report identifies Watson as an administrative judge (she's also a former prosecutor), and includes Coventry's recollection of Wilson telling him he was "electro-shocked until he started 'foaming' at the mouth and was laid across a steaming radiator."

To some of us, these allegations aren't new. But they're new to many Chicagoans, no doubt, and now they're being told in a federal criminal courtroom - with Burge present at the defense table. How is this not front-page news?

Now, I can hear some readers asking why I'm focusing on print editions, being the evangelist for Internet journalism that I am. Well, the print editions do reflect the editorial judgements of the newsroom; online editions often reflect the editorial judgements of SEO specialists. But let's take a look at the papers' websites.

At this particular moment, the top story at suntimes.com is "Bold Proposal: Two More Hours Of School A Day." By all appearances, a trial balloon leaked to the paper, but in any case an interesting story about a . . . proposal.

And the Burge trial? Nowhere. Not to be found on the home page.

Over at chicagotribune.com, the top story is "Dead Dogs, Cats Found In Home."

And the Burge trial? Nowhere. Not to be found on the home page.

Is yesterday's testimony old news? Compared to what - "3 Wounded In Shootings" or "Cubs Sue Shuttered Rooftop"?

Jon Burge is finally on trial. Ho-hum.

-

Meanwhile, back at the trial . . . the latest from reporter extraordinaire John Conroy.

* "A drama, playing behind closed doors in Judge Joan Lefkow's courtroom, has the colleagues of former police commander Jon Burge caught between pavement and steamroller, with Burge at the wheel," John Conroy reports for Vocalo in "Burge Pals Face Perjury Trap."

* "Watson responded [on cross-examination] indirectly by saying she had tried to raise the issue of torture at Area 2 elsewhere, that she'd told the FBI, the Police Department's Office of Professional Standards, and Judge Thomas Fitzgerald, now Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court," Conroy reports in "The Black Box Leaves No Marks."

* "Check out the questions and Burge's answers on page three and five of his indictment. They are long questions, but they seem pretty clear, and it's not like this was last minute stuff. These are written documents that he was free to read over as many times as he liked, plus he had legal counsel to help him figure it out, right?" Conroy reports in "Burge Questions Confusing? What Do You Think?"

I think the media is either bored or unprepared. Again.

Elsewhere In the Beachwood
* Pre-Gaming The Hawks. Getting you into the proper frame of mind.

* How To Have A Safe Summer Cookout. Hint: Don't skimp on the ice.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: No skimping.



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Posted on June 2, 2010


MUSIC - Blues Fest 2017.
TV - 'The Worst FCC I've Ever Seen.'
POLITICS - Minimum Wage Hikes Work.
SPORTS - On Joe Louis, Race And Sports Heroes.

BOOKS - The Blood Of Emmett Till.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Artist As Alchemist.


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