Media rings in New Year bashing Rahm Emanuel
- Times, New Yorker pile on
New Year's Eve: Ryan Seacrest cavorts in Times Square hosting ABC's big shebang and A-list media explode all around Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who failed to defuse tensions there. An op-ed in The New York Times ("What Should Chicago Celebrate?") and a New Yorker online opus ("The Sudden But Well-Deserved Fall of Rahm Emanuel") constituted a doubleheader national drubbing that mixed ideology, snark and suspect fact-checking by eminent outlets. The op-ed bemoaned a racist, corrupt city but was filled with errors and the very debatable, including the flat assertion of Chicago as the most segregated city. There are very differing claims on this score, with some listing Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee or many other cities worse than Chicago, while number-crunching Times alum Nate Silver underscores Chicago's segregation and diversity. The op-ed also asserted that the dismissal of the police chief and announcement of a new South Side trauma center are direct results of recent protests over the notorious killing of a teenager by a cop. The dismissal was a far more complicated and pre-existing political matter, while the center had been a bone of contention for literally decades and had been announced previously.
Meanwhile, author Rick Perlstein offered an un-New Yorker-like screed, portraying Emanuel as a right-wing sleaze in a testament to the animus some feel toward the mayor. One overblown contention about a supposed transit fare card scandal turned on his notion that the transit chief was picked by Emanuel's predecessor. In fact, the chief was picked by Emanuel. It also argued that obvious political success for Emanuel was actually failure by claiming his key role in winning back the U.S. House for the Democrats in 2006 was a disaster due to his recruiting conservative Democrats while boss of the party's campaign committee. Perlstein also suggested that closing 54 schools remains a hazy, even mysterious act, not what it was: An act taken in the wake of depopulation of poor black and Latino neighborhoods that left many schools at a fraction of capacity and underperforming. Well, the correct total was 49 elementary schools and one program within a high school that were closed, with most of the kids arguably transferred to better performing schools in a system that shows upticks of improvement.
I've profiled and derided Emanuel in multiple pieces, including in POLITICO before and after his re-election last year and recent amid his crisis for U.S. News & World Report. What one got in The Times and New Yorker was over the top; evidence of how even the finest media outlets can fall prey to the growing imperatives of being fast and provocative. In the process, they skewed the basic diagnosis. Those actually interested in the whole matter should check a passionate but fair-minded piece by Jamie Kalven, a veteran freelance journalist and legendary law professor's son who embarrassed mainstream media by disclosing key elements of the teen's killing by the cop and the autopsy. (The Chicago Tribune). For sure, Emanuel's heavy-handed ways and ego leave him with precious few public defenders. There's also a collective blame to be shared in Chicago that's missed by hyperbolic, cartoonish analyses that fit a facile national media caricature.
- Peyton Manning doping questions
Al Jazeera America has taken heat for a sports-drug expose in which it implicated the star quarterback. And while it seemed that one key on-air source recanted his claim of performance-enhancing drugs being sent to Manning's wife, the reporter told CNN Sunday it had an "impeccably placed" second source for the claims but just couldn't put that person on air. (Denver Post) Meanwhile, the Broncos are sure happy that Manning was well enough Sunday to save their butts during a surprise second-half appearance against the Chargers.
- Politwoops redux
It's huge, as Donald Trump would say. Twitter had killed Politwoops, a service of the Sunlight Foundation and Open State Foundation that saved deleted tweets of politicians. Now it says it's returning. Ok, not huge but a modestly welcome reprise. (Re/code)
- Fox News dominance
It was a very good year for Fox. "Fox News Channel is home to the Top 14 cable news shows among total viewers and the Top 8 among the key A25-54 demo for 2015. Bill O'Reilly had the most-watched program in both total viewers and the key A25-54 demo." (Adweek) Ah, yes that "key A25-54 demo" that keeps our economy afloat.
- 69 journalists killed in 2015
The most died in Syria but second place goes to France, largely due to the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. (Committee to Protect Journalists)
- Spotlight on Boston Globe delivery
A distribution snafu prompted Boston Globe reporters, editors and others to physically deliver the Sunday paper to some home delivery subscribers. Now that's a personal touch! Of course, the Catholic Archdiocese only wishes such a distribution problem had surfaced about 14 years ago as the paper covered sexual abuse by priests. Whatever, let's hope that reporters and editors nationwide won't one day have to knock on doors and beg Americans to take a look at their handiwork, be it in print or online (The Boston Globe)
- Long look at new media comes to a close
The New York Review of Books took so long to run part three of Michael Massing's fine series originally announced as a three-parter, you wondered if Yahoo, if not Facebook and Twitter, would still be around. Well, part three has finally arrived, but as itself a two-parter (go figure). The very final part is in the Jan. 14 issue, with Massing focusing on the need for better coverage of the 1 percent, as well as philanthropies and other nonprofits, such as art museums. His primary notion is that while reporting on the rich and wealthy institutions is getting a bit better, "news organizations have barely begun to penetrate the structure of economic power and influence." He's right. But he's also correct in wondering if there's funding to support the staffing he envisions for a new and independent website on this world. (The New York Review of Books)
- And time really does fly
Colleen Nelson of The Wall Street Journal had pool duty on Air Force One as the Obamas returned Sunday from their Hawaii vacation. Malia and Sasha were off first, wearing winter coats, followed by their parents (dad was still in jeans). A minute later they boarded Marine One. "At 12:01 p.m., Marine One lifted, bound for the White House. With that, vacation concludes, and the eighth and final year is about to begin." Yup, eighth and final year.
- Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
Jonathan Oosting is joining The Detroit News. He is a state capitol reporter for MLive.com. (@jonathanoosting) | Daniel Roberts is joining Yahoo Finance as a writer covering technology. He is a writer at Fortune. (POLITICO New York) | Steve Patterson is now a correspondent for NBC News. Previously, he was a reporter for CBS3 in Philadelphia. (Email) | Job of the day: WJLA is looking for an assignment editor. Get your resumes in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: firstname.lastname@example.org.