Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Sunday Funnies

Revised on Sunday, April 24, at 10:20 am.

Joel Weisman: Would you agree with that-- Dan Miller...that through this [University of Illinois, Chicago] symposium that all we heard were good things and some of the lesser accomplishments or non-accomplishments were kind of buried.

Dan Miller: Sure they were. We’re talking about a man who is dead and if you can’t say something good about somebody when he is dead, then don’t say anything at all. I think that was the underlying assumption for much of what the coverage was. But, Joel, I think at [W]TTW, here, your interview with Bill Daley was absolutely terrific. I think that undercovered a lot of stuff. I think that [Bob] Sirott talking to Rich Daley disclosed a different part of the Mayor, as well. So, I think the coverage was very balanced. I think it was fascinating, top to bottom.

Weisman: Mary, would you agree?

Mary Mitchell: Well, no, I don’t think it was balanced. One of the things that happens when someone is described as one of the most powerful Mayors ever is that you want to look at the things that he did—To, you know, to warrant the kind of adoration and that kind of respect. And, I think with powerful people there is a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, you revere them—you think this is great, they are powerful. On the other hand, you fear them. And, Daley reflected all of that. Some people loved him and thought he was the greatest Mayor ever. Some people, like those in the African- American community, feared him-I thought he did a poor job of bringing the races together. In fact, no job of bringing the races together.
WTTW’s Chicago Week in Review, April 22, 2005.
Dan Miller, Chicago Sun-Times Business Editor said, “if you can’t say something good about somebody when he is dead, then don’t say anything at all…. So, I think the coverage was very balanced.” That is a truly remarkable comment. After all, we are not talking about a eulogy at a funeral. We are talking about media personnel and academics analyzing and assessing the pros and cons of Richard J. Daley, almost three decades after Daley’s death and Miller says that? They are not supposed to say anything negative about FDR, JFK, Nixon or Reagan? This is history? This is media analysis? What was Miller thinking?

Miller thought the coverage was balanced at the University of Illinois symposium? The title of the symposium was “The inaugural Richard J. Daley Forum: Learning from the Legacy, 1955-2000.” From what I saw and heard of the symposium, each panel discussion, with the exception of the one made up of media personnel, seemed intended to crown Daley, posthumously, as the King of Goodness.

Apparently, the media were thrown together in one of the panels at the University of Illinois symposium to minimize and contain the impact of their criticism of Mayor Daley I, demonstrating respect for Richard J. Daley’s description of media and academics as fakers and phonies.

Dan Miller said, “[Bob] Sirott talking to Rich Daley disclosed a different part of the Mayor, as well.” What part would that be? The part suited for T-Ball type questions and analysis. Sirott has become well known for his media personality/old rock star/celebrity softball interviews on WTTW as he has changed the culture, sadly, at WTTW and Chicago Tonight.

The rumor is that if Daley, Blagojevich, et al, can’t get Sirott to do the interview on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight, they will wait until they can. Who would want to face WTTW's political interviewer Phil Ponce when they can get 50 softballs in a row from Bob Sirott?

The rest of the media coverage of the 50-year Richard J. Daley lovefest was in large part similarly tame and skewed to Richard J. There were a few exceptions, but who in the media--or their owners-- really wants to take on the current Mayor by being tough, but fair, in the analysis of the Mayor’s old man?

The coverage of former Mayor Richard J. Daley was very balanced? Balanced, my ---. Dan Miller used to be known as conservative leaning, but balanced in his own analysis and commentary. I don’t know what to make of Miller's comments, above, other than that they did not reflect reality and he gave us a Sunday Funny. And, lucky for Chicago Week in Review, it had Mary Mitchell on the panel, to provide balance, on this one.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at