Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Updated August 10, 2004 at 8:40 pm

More “Not so fair and balanced,” television from your Chicago Public TV station, WTTW.

Your pledge dollars at work for the Democratic Party, as WTTW brings you what could be called, “Democrats Tonight.”

WTTW’s Chicago Tonight gives a free ride to Illinois’ Senior Senator Dick Durbin tonight, allowing Senator Durbin, who lately has been the designated attack dog for Team Obama [kind of functioning in the same role as Bush’s VP Cheney or Kerry’s VP candidate Edwards], to attack Republican U. S. Senate Candidate Alan Keyes, unchallenged, with segment host Elizabeth Brackett pitching batting practice for Durbin, i.e., softballs galore for Durbin, with a few hardballs thrown by Brackett, herself, at Republican Senate Candidate Alan Keyes, who, of course, is not there to respond. Then, Senator Durbin is allowed to (1) tell us how to handle the FAA and O’Hare and (2) attack President Bush’s nomination of Cong. Porter Goss to the Directorship of the CIA, again without challenge from a competing point of view or a challenging host.

How can WTTW defend this bizarre journalistic act? They don’t have to. They are WTTW. Who is going to criticize WTTW? Certainly neither other journalists nor media critics in town.

Less offensive, but still peculiar in timing, is Chicago Tonight’s decision to follow up the Democratic Durbin promo for Democratic U. S. Senate Candidate Barack Obama and Senator Durbin with a promo for long time Democratic officeholder and currently Democratic Secretary of State Jesse White and the Jesse White tumblers.

Not to worry, I am sure Chicago Tonight will follow up tomorrow tonight with a solo appearance by a “pragmatic moderate conservative.” That is, of course, assuming the Chicago Tribune’s Editorial Page Editor, Bruce Dold, a frequent guest on WTTW and perhaps the originator of that term in last Friday’s Chicago Tribune’s scathing editorial attack on Keyes, can tell WTTW exactly what that phrase means and who, among current Republican officeholders and candidates, might fit that description.

No, WTTW won’t have a supporter of Republican U. S. Senate Candidate Alan Keyes on the show to field softballs from Elizabeth Brackett, as WTTW did tonight for Democratic U. S. Senate Candidate Obama. But, Chicago Tonight did have Alan Keyes on last night to field a few hardballs from Brackett and they have had Obama and his supporters on in the past to field softballs from WTTW, so that’s, what, 5 to 1 in preferences extended by WTTW to the Democrats? Seems pretty balanced, when looked at from the WTTW Democratic perspective, don’t you think.

The above described Chicago Tonight’s “Democrats Tonight,” program will air again early Wednesday morning at 1:00 am and 5:00 am on Ch. 11 in Chicago and the Metropolitan Chicago viewing area [But, you might have to check on that schedule. This is pledge week for WTTW, and who knows, maybe for the Democratic Party as well. Wasn’t an issue raised not too long ago regarding the claim that PBS and the Democratic Party have exchanged donor lists?]

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at JBCG@aol.com.