Thursday, April 14, 2005

Getting it wrong, yet again, on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight

It is a small thing, but it doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to list eight Republican candidates who have said, at least informally, they are giving serious consideration to running for the Gubernatorial nomination in the Republican Primary in March, 2006:

On the moderate or liberal side, we have (1) State Treasurer and former State GOP Chair Judy Baar Topinka and (2) Former Helene Curtis CEO, heir to much of the Helene Curtis fortune and former State Board of Education Chairman Ron Gidwitz.

From the downstate area, we have (1) conservative State Senator Bill Brady [Bloomington] and hard to classify (2) Cong. Ray LaHood [Peoria].

On the conservative side, we have (1) DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett, (2) State Senator Steve Rauschenberger, (3) Dairyman and Money Management Entrepreneur Jim Oberweis and (4) last, but certainly not least, former State Senator and 2004 Republican Primary candidate Pat O’Malley.

There, I have done it. So, how hard can it be? And, of course, I have also listed all eight of those names on my own television show, “Public Affairs,” several times in the last month, as well as on this blog.
Bob Sirott just did [about an hour ago on Chicago Tonight] one of those scripted, orchestrated, pretend spontaneous conversations with Rich Samuels which many television program producers seem to like so much. In the conversation, Samuels reported on Oberweis’ Press Conference earlier today in Chicago [which was repeated elsewhere around the state], in which Oberweis became the first Republican to formally announce his 2006 primary candidacy for Governor.

Sirott asked, after Samuels discussed the Oberweis announcement, “What about other GOP contenders?” Samuels responded: “Half a dozen individuals are considering running at this time and let me just go down the list.” Samuels then listed all of the above names except for former State Senator Pat O’Malley, who came in 2nd to Jim Ryan’s 44% of the vote in the 2002 Gubernatorial Primary with 29% of the vote and slightly ahead of Corinne Wood’s 27% of the vote.

True, I predicted last December Pat O'Malley would defer to Senator Rauschenberger, and I still think there is a reasonable chance he may. Nevertheless, Pat has said quite publicly [on a TV show that airs throughout Chicago and in 34 suburbs] and I believe elsewhere, and on a blog that has even broader geographic availability that he is giving another run for GUV very serious consideration:
Berkowitz: What about [State Senator and possible gubernatorial candidate] Steve Rauschenberger? You’d support …Steve, possibly?

O’Malley: No, the reality is the likelihood of me running is more important than that.
Rich Samuels is quite good, in general, at his political reporting. So, what’s the problem here? It is hard to say, other than WTTW seems to have the equivalent of a mental block when it comes to covering Republicans, especially those of the conservative stripe. These kinds of screw-ups occur regularly on those infrequent occasions when conservative Republicans are discussed on either Chicago Tonight or Chicago Week in Review.

My guess is that WTTW doesn’t have many folks involved in their news and public policy production who have been conservative Republicans, are conservative Republicans, know conservative Republicans, speak to conservative Republicans, have lunch with conservative Republicans, think about conservative Republicans, etc. So, in short, when it comes to Politics, WTTW doesn’t do conservative Republican, and when it does- it doesn’t do it very well.
WTTW’s Chicago Tonight airs every weekday from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Ch. 11 in the Chicago metropolitan area and the program is repeated at midnight, 1:30 am and 4:30 am.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at