A few years back, when a (ed: opinion coming) deservedly obscure but vaultingly ambitious Illinois State Senator named Obama decided to run for the U. S. Senate, the Chicago news media cleared the way for him, first in the Democratic primary election, disposing of the front runner, a rich lefty named Blair Hull, whose ex-wife had accused him of being violent. Then they disposed of the Republican, another rich guy this time from the right, named Jack Ryan, because his ex wife, a minor actress renowned for, mmm, her architecture, accused him of taking her to scandalous Paris clubs while they were married. The accusations were made after their divorce, in a custody proceeding. In the Hull and Ryan cases, the litigation was supposedly sealed, and somehow leaked and then released. Which simply means that in Illinois, ain’t nothin’ sealed. The Chicago news media, first the Fun Times and then the Tribunal, got ahold of the scandals and used them to bludgeon Blair Hull and Jack Ryan out of the campaigns. For all I know, both Hull and Ryan are horrible tentacled monsters from the Dungeon Dimensions. Or not. It doesn’t matter. The media used the allegations, not any substance behind them, to create a scandal and smooth their favored candidate’s way. Smoothed it all the way to the White House, they did.
Thing is, of course, that divorcing and divorced people lie about each other. The more that’s at stake, the more they lie.
Now, advocacy is part of journalism. Always has been, always will be. Good reporters and opinionators transcend their advocacy at least a little, but it’s there and should be. The Tribune was founded in part to be an abolitionist platform. It became infamous (at least if you are a progressive) for the crusades of it’s long-time publisher, Robert McCormick, a lavishly opinionated man:
McCormick carried on crusades against gangsters and racketeers, prohibition and prohibitionists, local, state, and national politicians, Wall Street, the East and Easterners, Democrats, the New Deal and the Fair Deal, liberal Republicans, the League of Nations, the World Court, the United Nations, British imperialism, socialism, and communism. Besides Roosevelt, his chief targets included Chicago Mayor William Hale Thompson and Illinois Governor Len Small. Some of McCormick’s personal crusades were seen as quixotic (such as his attempts to reform spelling of the English language) and were parodied in political cartoons in rival Frank Knox’s Chicago Daily News. Knox’s political cartoonists, including Cecil Jensen, derided McCormick as “Colonel McCosmic”, a “pompous, paunchy, didactic individual with a bristling mustache and superlative ego.”
In the current, on-line version of the Tribune, a caricature of the Colonel is used as a semi-humorous avatar of the company. He would not have approved.
So it it happens that the Brothers Koch purchase the eight newspapers of the Tribune Company, it will be an example of Dame Fortuna’s wheel rotating. The current Tribune is a rather sad, drab, and boring place. Whatever will they do with it?