Monday, February 27, 2006

WTTW’s Bias: Blago, Judy, Obama, Ds and the Combine

So, there you are sports fans, Carol Marin and her fair and balanced panel of slightly left of center panelists have anointed Judy the Winner, and no need to mention Republican gubernatorial candidates Oberweis, Gidwitz or Brady. We don’t want you to worry your pretty little heads with names of Republicans.
Carol Marin: …the only debate that they agreed to was to sit down with the Tribune Editorial Board. We can’t get them together here, so how was that debate?

Bruce Dold: …I wish they were doing more joint appearances…First thing we asked [Democratic Gubernatorial Primary candidate] Ed Eisendrath was where is your campaign—why should we take this seriously if we don’t see you on TV…the Governor was really pretty good when talking about his budget, talking about pre-school education, talking about health care, but you also have this BIZARRE situation in the room where his campaign spokesman is sitting behind him, Doug Scofield, who also happens to be a prominent lobbyist and the Governor when you get him on the questions of pay to play and all that is FAR LESS CONVINCING than on health care and education… [Emphasis added]
Talking about BIZARRE situations, we have the Chicago Tonight discussion of this evening of what is hot on the local political scene.

Now, I think Bruce Dold [Editor, Chicago Tribune Editorial Page] is a reasonably fair guy, with biases like all of us, and probably leans right of center on economic issues, but not so on social issues. Paul Green, Roosevelt University Professor, is also quite fair, and probably leans left of center, notwithstanding his claim to be the “White line down the middle of the road.” Bob Crawford, former WBBM-AM Radio Political Editor, I would guess leans slightly left of center, but it is a guess and Bob is probably the fairest of them all.

Marin, on the hand, is an out and out lefty. I mean, she probably even chews on her left side, sleeps on her left side and gestures with her left hand. Nothing wrong with that, but no one should pretend she is fair and balanced. Not when, for example, she tosses into her columns occasional, random far left shots at the Bush administration. And, I don't think she took too many far right shots at the Clinton Administration. So, you have a lefty host and a slightly left of center panel. What kind of political analysis do you get? Well, yes, a left biased one. But, in light of the high quality nature of the panelists, it is surprising that you got at least some, bizarre opinions, descriptions and analyses, as discussed below.

For starters, Dold and Marin make it sound [See, above] like you can’t get a “debate,” in the Governor’s race because you have two candidates who are difficult to get together. And, of course, nothing could be further from the truth. You have only one candidate, Blago, who won’t even consider a joint appearance, let alone a debate. So, why are Dold and Marin talking that way. God only knows. And, why aren’t Green and Crawford saying something about that? God only knows. And, how can they speak of a closed, private edit Board meeting as a "gubernatorial debate." This is how Blago likes to describe it. But, WTTW?

And there is this from Marin: “You know we mourn the lack of debate, I mean I do, and here we have [a Marin cutesy laugh]-- we were talking before we went on the air that we may be among only the handful of people who even care about this [Gubernatorial] race.” Well, that is a nice condescending attitude that Marin has toward her viewers, the great unwashed. Not atypical among lefties.

Great, maybe Carol can persuade WTTW to expand its “Check, Please,” series and Carol can host those as well. What a smug group of “intellectuals,” they are at WTTW, Chicago’s “Public TV.”

And, Dold says the Governor is “pretty good,” on education, health care, etc? Perhaps we need a few more debates to sharpen up Bruce Dold on some of the questions that might at least be raised regarding the Governor’s programs in these areas. Pretty good? What was he thinking?

And, of course, Green and Crawford are pretty much silent on Governor Blagojevich being “pretty good on the issues.” Crawford takes after Eisendrath for not putting up a strong campaign, but he gives the docile media and Blago’s Democratic critics, who are afraid to say or do anything in support of challenger Edwin Eisendrath, a pass.

And Marin’s contribution is to point out how much better Blago’s expensive TV ads are than those of Eisendrath. Great, Carol. This is why WTTW brought you on? To compare ads? That and to interview sports figures?

Then, when they turn to the Republicans, everyone is careful not to mention any Republican Guv candidates, other than Judy Baar, with Green outlining how far ahead Topinka is. Dold’s contribution is to bring up the myth, as fact, that Jim Ryan lost the general election because of the tough primary and then Marin asks if the Republicans therefore shouldn’t be careful not to be too tough on Judy. Good, Carol. Let’s toe the Andy McKenna GOP establishment line of no criticism by the candidates of each other.

Crawford tells us how wonderful Judy is as a candidate, and that she is the second coming of Jim Edgar and therefore she will be a formidable candidate in November. Professor Green, to his credit, rains on the Judy parade by pointing out that Judy is dead meat if the conservatives stay home in November. Dold and Marin remain silent on the point.

Then the group turns to Stroger-Claypool, which they do recognize as an important and perhaps very close race for the Democratic nomination for president of the Cook County Board. Dold certainly gets the importance of Claypool and the importance of bringing democracy to Cook County. Unfortunately, he can’t get himself to bring the name of a Republican, Peraica, to his lips, in terms of asking if Tony could give Stroger a run, if Claypool loses but softens Stroger up for the general election. All the others are silent on the issue as well.

Green, enamored, as always with the love of his life, Democrats, says, “I think the race that really is- where you [Dold] just endorsed today-- the 6th Cong. Dist. with Tammy Duckworth, Cegelis and Scott.”

Marin, decides she will risk being stricken by lightning and says the name of two Republicans, and she interrupts Green’s discussion of the 6th CD by saying, “For Henry Hyde’s seat, where Pete Roskam is going to be the..” [as an aside, the only public personalities I have heard call Senator Roskam “Pete,” would be Major Tammy Duckworth and now Carol Marin—must be a Democratic thing, intended to marginalize Senator Peter Roskam, which BTW is what some people are known to call him]
Paul Green:…look at the fact that the two hotly contested races for Congress in Illinois are the 6th and the 8th

Bruce Dold: we had all three of those candidates [must be a reference to 6th , since there are technically 6 candidates in 8th CD] in, too and they were all very good candidates.

Paul Green: Were they cordial or did they go after each other?

Bruce Dold: No, they were very cordial, extremely cordial. [Odd thing is that at the WBEZ Chicago Public Radio debate of those three, Cegelis almost bit the heads off of Duckworth and Scott. And, at Craig Dellimore’s WBBM Radio’s At Issue, they didn’t seem so cordial, either. Must be the calming effect of the Tribune editorial board].
So, I guess the 8th CD Republican Primary doesn’t warrant a discussion or God Forbid, a mention by the panel or the host of the names of the three major Republican candidates, even though Dold’s editorial page endorsed Republican David McSweeney today, over the two other major candidates, Kathy Salvi and Rep. Churchill.
So, there you are sports fans, Carol Marin and her fair and balanced panel of slightly left of center panelists have anointed Judy the Winner, and no need to mention Republican gubernatorial candidates Oberweis, Gidwitz or Brady. We don’t want you to worry your pretty little heads with names of Republicans. But, kudos to Paul Green for sneaking by the WTTW censors that conservative Republicans could matter if they pout in November and don’t support Judy Christ, I mean Baar Topinka.

And, as to Congressional races, the 6th and 8th are perhaps of interest, but WTTW won’t discuss the 8th CD contested primary because those candidates are Republicans and when is the last time anybody on WTTW thought Republicans were of interest? 1956?

And, of course, no mention on Chicago Tonight of the challengers to Democrat freshman Cong. Dan Lipinski, who as Senator Rauschenberger is fond of saying, was swapped into his seat by his Dad, Cong. Bill Lipinski, who was Mr. Transporation and thus a favorite of the pro- Big Time Transportation spending Chicago Tribune. And, no mention that the Tribune just endorsed Swappee Dan this morning with no mention of Congressman Dan Lipinski’s peculiar habit of being registered to vote in Illinois for 15 years, or so, when he had held a full time job out of state much of that time and lived outside of Illinois for all of those years.

Further, Swappee Dan either didn’t vote in 2002 or he can’t remember if he voted, depending on who asks the question and when they do so. Oddly, one of the journalists asking the questions of Swappee Dan Lipinski a few weeks ago was Carol Marin. But, tonight she forgot all about it. After all, why should she confront, or horrors, challenge her guest, Bruce Dold, with that mess.

But, Carol did mention Hyde, as the outgoing Congressman in the 6th CD, so she gets one point for that. And, “Pete,” Roskam will be glad to hear he got a half mention from Carol? Right, Pete?

Of course, it would be in poor taste to mention the heavy handed way in which DCCC Chairman Emanuel and Senators Obama and Durbin have intervened and flexed their political muscles in the 6th CD. And, of course, we wouldn’t want to highlight any substantive differences of the candidates in the Democratic Primary, e.g., parental notice and the War, because our viewers, who are barely interested in politics, would have no interest in public policy.

And, finally, they all give Senator Obama a pass for not picking between Machine Stroger and reformer Claypool, even though Obama is supposed to be Mr. Clean and Mr. Reformer.

Now, why would Sen. Obama stay neutral between Stroger and Claypool, and yet go to the extreme of doing ads for Tammy Duckworth in the 6th CD and Alexi Giannoulias in the Contested Democratic Primary for Treasurer. Oops, there I go again. This could explain why I am not on WTTW. I have absolutely no social graces and tact when it comes to asking such questions.

Well, sports fans, that should be enough politics and public policy for Chicago Tonight for at least another six months. Tomorrow night, more sports. A look at the fascinating sports of curling, cuddling and women's mud wrestling. And, now, back to you, Phil.
Chicago Tonight airs every weekday evening from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm on WTTW, one of the two Chicago Public TV stations in the Chicago Metro area, and it repeats at Midnight [usually] and at 1:30 am and 4:30 am.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at