Friday, March 3, 2023

This interview never happened


     What does “off the record” mean?
     My understanding is, it means you aren’t going to quote someone. That whatever conversation you have is only meant to improve your understanding of a situation. Or person. Otherwise, what would be the point of ever having an off-the-record conversation?
     Still, even though I’ve been in this business 40 years, I don’t traffic in hard news much, and there are details of the off-the-record tradition I’m uncertain about. Can you even say the conversation occurred? That 45 minutes were spent sitting in a certain office on the 5th floor of City Hall last Halloween, talking to a particular elected official who, shall we say, didn’t have the best week? I believe I can.
     Can I mention what I said? I wasn’t off the record. I made some suggestions. How about talking about the challenge of being a mother while running one of the largest cities in the United States? “It might humanize you,” is what I actually said. Tact, not my strong suit. I prefer to think of it as being blunt.
     Officials sometimes try to slip a shiv, anonymously, into their adversaries without leaving any fingerprints. “A high city official said...” It’s also a fig leaf for the frightened. If you don’t trust yourself, or anyone else, or if you are so thin-skinned you can’t risk that anything you say that might be held in an unflattering light.
     Elected officials are sometimes torn between seeking the attention they crave and receiving the scrutiny they shun.

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21 comments:

  1. I think this from an anonymous Lightfoot staffer quoted by a City Hall reporter ( and mentioned by Eric Zorn in the PS today) sums up Lightfoot’s problem which as you note really was not crime. “Lessons: You can’t run on a platform and then completely abandon it. You can’t run against the status quo, and then fill your administration with the status quo. And you can’t be mean to everyone who tries to help you.”

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  2. She never seemed to be happy or comfortable in it. Pritzker on the other hand seems to be eating it all up and having a ball. Apples and oranges of course, but maybe being an outsider in so many ways made it impossible to flourish.I'm glad she tried. Like Jane Byrne, she shattered a little bit of glass. This city is ungovernable.

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  3. No Neil, we are never going to miss her, as she was a disaster as mayor. She's was so proud of investing city money in the South & West Sides, but it won't help them one bit. I remember when the feds put millions into Uptown through the Model Cities Program & it did help Uptown one bit. Uptown didn't start to recover until the Yuppies & DINKs discovered the large dilapidated mansions of East Uptown & Sheridan Park & rehabbed them. That improved Uptown! The South & West Sides aren't going to get better until the Upper Middle Class black families with children & DINKs start moving back there, but considering the crime problems there, that's just not happening anytime soon! Look at Englewood, where Whole Foods tried to make a go of it & failed. Even Aldi can't succeed there.

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  4. Spot on.

    I believe, off the record, has an expiration date. End of the subjects life or end of your career

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  5. Lori Lightfoot -biggest political disappointment since Bill Clinton turned out to be a Republican. Good riddance.

    And as for Rahm, the only place I'd wanna be with him is at his funeral.

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    1. Bill Clinton might have been more traditionally conservative than we thought but he didn't turn out to be a Republican. Republicans no longer believe in democracy, humanity, or honesty or truth. We expect hypocrisy out of politicians. We don't expect narcissistic nihilism. They believe in nothing but their orange lunatic God. No - Clinton was not a Republican.

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  6. Hi there! I’m a new subscriber and really enjoy your daily newsletter. Today I ran into a firewall when I clicked on the “click here and continue reading” tab in your newsletter. It led to your column in the newspaper and I needed to subscribe to something else to read the rest. Hope I can get around this and read the rest! Bonny

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    Replies
    1. Yes, "subscribing" doesn't have to cost anything. They just want you to sign up.

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  7. My concern is another publication having my email address. Will the Sun Times sell or trade my email to others, so I am inundated with solicitations? I subscribe to Eric Zorn's publication with the assurance of not giving out me email. I thought the same would hold true for this newsletter. This is why I still have a home phone, everyone business gets this number and I never answer any calls. The people who I want to reach me I give my cell number. Maybe I should create a dummy email?

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    1. That might be a good idea. I just routinely put people into spam, where they aren't a problem. I would observe, politely, that until very recently the Sun-Times charged good money for those digital subscriptions, and now, thanks to the largess of Chicago Public Media, you can read our high quality professional journalism content for the price of coughing up your email. That seems a bargain, to me, but then again, I'm biased.

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    2. As as subscriber to both the Sun-Times and Tribune, I may be biased, too. The new arrivals to EGD via Eric Zorn's publication may have noticed the big chart indicating the "plunging staff at Midwest newsrooms" that he included in yesterday's edition. It was part of this article, which he rightly characterized as "deeply depressing." "The once-mighty Chicago Tribune had a newsroom of 670 people in 2006; now it is about 120. In 2007 the circulation of the Chicago Tribune was 566,827; now it is 106,000."

      It's almost as if people declining to subscribe to or otherwise pay for the quality journalism done by legacy newspapers is having a very detrimental effect...

      "The Shredding of Midwestern Newspapers" https://muse.jhu.edu/article/882956

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  8. I haven't subscribed, so I can't blame the Sun-Times, but somebody recently put out the word that I need a job (I don't). Nonetheless, it's amusing to see what kind of work is being recommended for an 80-year-old non-litigious lawyer. From manual labor to high flying executive positions. No, thank you. They're fishing; maybe I should take the hint and go fishing myself.

    john

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  9. Why not support local journalism? It’s our last defense.

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    1. I go out every morning and plop down my 2 dollars for a fresh-off-the-press Sun-Times. That's more than $800 I contribute annually to the support of local journalism. And even when the paper cost a quarter, that added up to a couple hundred bucks. And I've been buying the paper daily for at least 50 years. Northing in my Will though, at least not yet.

      john

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    2. Have it delivered. It's a better deal.

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    3. Wow, that daily outlay really adds up! You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar, in addition to being the patron saint of this blog! : )

      (I hope I can make that joke without ruffling the proprietor's feathers.)

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  10. The unfortunate aspect of this for our outgoing (now there's an odd double entendre, given the subject) mayor is that I doubt that our intrepid EGD host was out to "get" her. As he notes, "I liked her, or tried to." While I'm sure an on-the-record interview would not have resulted in a puff piece, I bet she'd have benefited to at least some extent from whatever piece he would have written. Look at the nice treatment Willie Wilson received from him after deigning to talk with Neil on the phone for an hour, for instance...

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  11. As a print subscriber I get a version on the net exactly as it is printed. That makes it much more user friendly than the free edition, which I can still access. I cannot identify any spam or other annoyances that could be attributed to the Times, but I wish I knew who gave my Cell number to the Republican call center! They also allow me to suspend delivery while I winter in Florida without limiting my access to the e-paper. Florida is bad enough, without a Chicago newspaper it would be worse.

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  12. We get home delivery (four days a week) of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (AKA the Pain Feeler, the Pain Healer, and the Cleveland Daily Birdcage Liner), but it's become a sick joke, an ultra-thin, non-union shadow of what it was only five or six years ago. Which means that I've become a subscriber to the Washington Post (even though I've earned a lifetime ban from commenting there), and to both the Sun-Times and the Tribune.

    However, the Trib won't let me access their site. No matter what I do, I get "Looks like you don't have a password yet. Create a password so that you can login this way in the future. You may need to log in to Yahoo! to add it to your existing accounts."

    Oh, pleeze. I really, really hate Yahoo...and I wish I didn't have it. After numerous attempts, and a lot of hair-tearing frustration, I finally gave up trying to read the Tribune, and said the hell with it. Am I missing very much?

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    Replies
    1. Just add the Bypass Paywalls add on for Chrome & Firefox & you can read everything!

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    2. Grizz, when I suspended my Sunday delivery this year, the Trib person said I could not receive the E-paper during the suspension. That's not how it worked previously as I qualified for the daily E edition as part of my Sunday subscription. It didn't seem worth the argument, but I sense something amiss in the employee in question. Why they wouldn't want to continue a relationship that cost them nothing is beyond my ability to comprehend.

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