The [Wednesday] Papers
Thank you, Sun-Times.
The paper's big front page display today gets it right: "5 Questions Daley Won't Answer."
Columnist Mark Brown gets it right: "In [a] speech to . . . new police officers, the mayor warned them about the press always writing negative stories and stressed the importance of people in command positions taking responsibility, and then in the press conference he read a prepared statement about the Sun-Times' story on his son Patrick's involvement in a company with a city contract, but wouldn't answer questions about it."
Columnist Carol Marin gets it right: "The same mayor who can lecture new police officers about 'trust,' 'mutual respect,' 'responsibility,' and 'common sense' displayed none of the above."
And Tim Novak and the paper got it right for breaking the story in the first place.
This is the Sun-Times at its best.
We can only pray that the paper doesn't pull a Reader and fire its best people amidst the coming budget cuts. If the paper was smart, it would invest in its future by hiring the likes of John Conroy & Co. and turning them loose.
The Daley Show
Here's how I'm sure it happened: Daley met with top aides including press secretary Jacquelyn Heard to come up with a strategy to deflect questioning about his son instead of meeting with top aides to find out what happened and why - if he didn't already know.
They settled upon reading a statement and changing the subject as a strategy they hope will put the story behind them, counting on the media's short attention span.
And in any case, they've decided to stonewall instead of telling the truth - just like they teach their children to do when they get in trouble.
The five questions the Sun-Times refers to in its front page headline are questions in writing the paper gave to Heard on December 3rd. Those questions have not been answered.
Here is my one issue with the Sun-Times on this story: It isn't good newsroom policy to offer anyone questions in writing. If you do it for one person, you've got to do it for everyone. And besides, the written responses you get in return often do not answer the questions, and obviously do not allow for probing follow-ups or attempts to clarify the answers. It also gives news subjects the ability to take the questions and huddle with advisors whose specialty is crafting propaganda campaigns designed to blunt those very questions.
It's pretty standard stuff; we had just such a policy back at the college paper, for godsakes.
Better to write stories about how the mayor won't answer questions. Hell, why not produce an annual special section listing the questions the mayor wouldn't even address?
Writes Marin: "How does a mayor, who prides himself on knowing how many bolts belong in a beam of one of his many bridges, not know every single detail about his kid and nephew's investments with a city he's run with an iron hand for 18 years?"
Gee, what made Patrick Daley think this was the way the city operated?
The city's not exactly making a huge effort to find out, though.
"I don't want to lead you to believe it is some sort of dragnet search," Heard said. "It's not. I don't think that's required here."
Just enough for show.
How does she know?
Because the mayor said so!
This begs the question, though: Is Daley saying former police chief Phil Cline was guilty of blaming the troops and running for cover?
Tell that to Alison True.
Same old, same old.
"The report by Noelle Brennan, who has monitored city hiring since August 2005, alleged that several high-ranking aides to Daley skirted hiring rules to give jobs to favored candidates. In other instances, preferred job-seekers were put on the payrolls of outside contractors to get around restrictions at City Hall, Brennan said.
"Many city employees who violated hiring rules have not been punished, the report said. Brennan also alleged that city lawyers repeatedly provided false or misleading information about hiring problems, hampering her investigation."
Like father, like son.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Bad, nationwide.
Posted on December 19, 2007
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