‘What qualifies you to be press secretary for the mayor of the third-largest city?’

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
That’s what 55-year-old Chuck Goudie — “one of Chicago’s toughest investigative reporters” — asks 25-year-old Tarrah Cooper, who is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s press secretary. The 2008 Missouri Journalism School graduate and former MTV intern “is beginning the job of a lifetime, even though she doesn’t have much life time behind her,” writes Goudie. (Cooper worked in the Department of Homeland Security public affairs office before joining Emanuel’s team.) In his column for a suburban Chicago newspaper, Goudie lists the questions he sent Cooper and and never got answered, including:

• Does your youthfulness and lack of experience symbolize what seems to be administration focused on hiring managers under 35?

• Is there a set of written guidelines or protocols that you are working from in dealing with reporters and news organizations?

• How much will you be paid?

• What are your career aspirations?

Goudie also says that “it is interesting that the mayor’s new press secretary felt no inhibition about displaying hundreds of personal photos on her public Facebook page, showing her partying with friends, in beach attire and at a slot machine.”

Reaction in the comments section? Here’s what “old lady 2205″ writes:

Chuck, you sly old fox. What better way to start with the new mayoral administration than to go after the youngest and possibly most vulnerable staff member. This entire investigation must have taken you 45 minutes to an hour, including writing the article.
I really expect better of you.

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  • Anonymous

    Her age and Facebook page have nothing to do with anything but the fact that Rahm Emanuel‘s press secretary doesn’t respond in a meaningful way (or at all) to the press is a problem. Tarrah Cooper may as well be a corporate spokesperson for Quaker Oats or Boeing. She’s a public employee charged with communicating to the press on behalf of the Mayor of Chicago and you may as well reach straight for the FOIA request for all help she provides.

  • Anonymous

    Her age and Facebook page have nothing to do with anything but the fact that Rahm Emanuel‘s press secretary doesn’t respond in a meaningful way (or at all) to the press is a problem. Tarrah Cooper may as well be a corporate spokesperson for Quaker Oats or Boeing. She’s a public employee charged with communicating to the press on behalf of the Mayor of Chicago and you may as well reach straight for the FOIA request for all help she provides.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=528171491 Anonymous

    “Borderline” sexist? That border was well behind this guy.

    Good points, though. 

  • Anonymous

     Jeez, Chuck, isn’t there a puppy you could be strangling?

  • Anonymous

    “one of Chicago’s toughest investigative reporters…” spends his days wanking to Facebook apparently.

    Impressive.

  • Anonymous

    You
    can expect to see this sort of tantrum more often now that the war
    between government and the press is out in the open. Neither side is
    blameless but if you hire incompetent kids to stonewall the press, this
    is what you can expect in return. This
    isn’t a practice ORahmabama started. About half the flaks I’ve death with
    have fit this mold at every level of government since I started as a
    reporter in 1988. The bottom line is that the flaks who have no
    professional standards are now fair game for “media” as now defined,
    which also seem no longer to have any professional standards.

  • http://twitter.com/snobographer2 aka snobographer

    “But really, how could she possibly hope to have any sort of intelligent
    conversation about city business (at least at this point in her tenure)
    with a seasoned city hall reporter?”

    Well she’s certainly not going to be able to have that intelligent conversation when the seasoned reporter asks questions as dumb as the ones listed here.

  • James K. Nelson

    “Facebook page, showing her partying with friends, in beach attire and at a slot machine.”

    Ummmm…OK…and this is a problem why?

  • mojo au go go

    As this woman has the job and obviously the support of the new Mayor she is in a position of influence as well as
    being free of any past arrangements on the pressroom…  Far from the suggestions that she isn’t able to respond
    to the “To an outsider, municipal government can be incredibly convoluted and confusing, filled with arcane regulations and processes. Reporters who cover city hall have spent years learning how this machine works. Those reporters will almost certainly be more knowledgeable of how the city works than Ms. Cooper. ”  This smacks of hubris and an old boy view of the
    pressroom and I hope she puts these antique concepts where they deserve to be,  in the past…

  • http://twitter.com/woodygoode Woodrow L. Goode, IV

    Yes, it’s appalling of Goudie to make comments about Cooper’s age, rag on her internship at MTV or talk about her posting photos of herself doing perfectly legal– and normal– things on Facebook.  However, can we focus on the other 97% of the article? 

    1. The new mayor picks Jean-Claude Brizard to run his schools.
    2. The reporter discovers that Brizard has, to quote from the EEOC finding on a termination case, “a bias based on age and had a bias regarding African-American women.” 
    3. The reporter calls the press secretary for comment.
    4. The press secretary only wants to have one-on-one conversations with the reporter on an “off the record” basis.

    I have no way of knowing whether Goudie’s characterizations of what Cooper said are accurate– but assuming he isn’t lying, doesn’t ANYONE else find those facts problematic?

    Goudie didn’t present his case in a way that make him out to be a sympathetic figure. Many of his comments are ad-hominem nonsense, that suggest he has the same biases Brizard is accused of. But the issue is how a public servant being paid $180,000 of taxpayer money responded to a press inquiry. And the people at Poynter are OK with how Cooper acted?  Amazing

    Parenthetically, I think it’s incorrect to assume that the response has anything to do with Cooper’s age or experience level. This is how Rahm Emanuel handles the press and it’s how he’d expect his press secretary to behave. I’m sure Emanuel chose Cooper because she is young and inexperienced and can be bullied into doing what he wants– but he’d do that with a 62-year-old, stogie-chomping veteran of the city desk if he could find one and the demographics worked for him.

  • http://profiles.google.com/scripterctw Chris Warren

    She goes TO THE BEACH?!?!!?!  AND LETS HER FRIENDS KNOW?!

    Oh my God.

    Obviously unqualified.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeCutie Joe C

    The “what qualifies you” line of questioning is appropriate.  The “you’re naughty for having a personal life and daring to be seen in your beach wear” is completely inappropriate, really really stupid, borderline sexist, and borderline perverted for even looking at the pictures in the first place. Dirty old man. Initially, I was going to be on his side before he started with that BS.

  • http://twitter.com/bobhughes Bob Hughes

     Funny how the FB page is “not available”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5300451 Ryan Holeywell

    I think this shows a lot about Mayor Emanuel’s priorities. To an outsider, municipal government can be incredibly convoluted and confusing, filled with arcane regulations and processes. Reporters who cover city hall have spent years learning how this machine works. Those reporters will almost certainly be more knowledgeable of how the city works than Ms. Cooper. That’s not her fault, as I’m sure she’s a bright young woman, and she took the job of a lifetime. But really, how could she possibly hope to have any sort of intelligent conversation about city business (at least at this point in her tenure) with a seasoned city hall reporter? She probably can’t. I think that may be why she was hired.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XW7TELD2TMSB642SRYH3E4EIYY Leland Cadaver – boy-eee

     The Daily Herald is a right wing rag that claims to represent the voice of the suburbs of Chicago, while picking up the syndicated columns of every right wing welfare crackpot on the market.