Thursday, June 03, 2004

Updated June 3, 2004, 4:40 am, Quick Hits:

Chicago Tonight, June 2, Public TV in Chicago: Phil Ponce gets 15 minutes to update his viewers on the U.S. Senate race. The show gets Bill Pascoe and Robert Gibbs, the new Communications Directors for the Jack Ryan and Barack Obama campaigns, respectively, to appear, along with the respected public policy journalist Craig Dellimore, WBBM Radio's Political Director. The makings of a good show? One would think.

Of the 15 minutes, about 5 minutes goes to the media created and much overblown "Tracker," or as the media like to say, "Stalker," issue. Another minute wasted on the sealed child custody records or not sealed "divorce records," [as Ponce labelled that issue], with nothing new on either. Another two and one-half minutes on the Tribune and Daily Southtown polls, with nothing new or of much interest on either. Another minute given to Gibbs to do his thing- asserting Jack is running a negative campaign, which is certainly less true under the new Pascoe regime, and somewhat misleading as to the old regime. Three minutes given to discussing Gibbs and Pascoe coming to the Senate race and the meaning of that. Even here, Ponce misses an opportunity to inform his viewers that Gibbs is on a bit of a winning streak and that Pascoe had been with RNC chair Jim Nicholson a few years ago.

That leaves about two and one-half minutes or about 15% of the segment for Pascoe and Gibbs to touch on issues. Phil Ponce asks Pascoe and Gibbs if the public is ready to pay attention to issues? Good golly, Miss Molly, I think they are, Phil. Is WTTW? Barack Obama came out strongly against the War in Iraq almost two years ago and has continued to discuss it during the campaign; Jack Ryan came out for the War almost two years ago and has continued to discuss it during the campaign. The pundits agree: It's the War, stupid. But Ponce does nothing on the War. Also, jabs by the flak catchers on taxes, education and health care, but no serious discussion of those items or of the economy. How could they have a serious discussion- most of the time has been wasted on stuff of no consequence. Is there a producer for the segment? What in the world was she/he thinking?

The honchos at WTTW said they had to change the format after Callaway left because 70% of the Chicago Tonight audience, under Callaway, was over 70. Okay, but what is WTTW doing? going after the under 17 market? Geez, the production staff for my show are mostly under 17 and they have more intellectual interest in politics than the audience CT seems to be targeting.

Pascoe, to his credit, said he hoped that the media might do what the voters want-- turn to the issues. Gibbs seemed to agree. Sorry, guys, if WTTW has anything to say about it, the media will continue to cover anything but the issues. Except, of course, for yours truly, on "Public Affairs."

Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of "Public Affairs," can be reached at