Friday, February 23, 2024

Chicago is not the City that Bumbles

     Oh, Mayor Johnson. Really? You show up at an editorial board meeting on Monday and are shocked — shocked! — to discover the meeting is on the record, meaning the newspaper reporters present reserve the right to listen to what the mayor of the city of Chicago says about important matters and then relate that information to residents.
     So you flee, shrieking (or so I imagine. I wasn't there, alas).
     Surprised, were you? I'm surprised too. Amazed, really. The bar is pretty low at this point, but it wouldn't surprise me more had the mayor shown up not wearing pants.
     Because, really. If Brandon Johnson doesn't even trust himself to open his mouth and let words come out, can't even try, then how is anybody else supposed to trust him?
     Mr. Mayor, let me level with you: You are playing into the media's hands.
     Yes, we ask our questions, getting all sad and belligerent when you don't answer, or rather, start tossing some off-point word salad that means nothing.
     But we're also secretly pleased. Because we don't really want to hear your side. We're just pretending to, because our job demands it. When you clam up, you're putty in our hands. It's liberating.
     How so? Let me tell you a story.
     So a highly placed Illinois judge comes to my office at the newspaper for the purpose of planting a dagger squarely in the back of Tim Evans, chief Judge of the Cook County Circuit Court, whose management style is lacking in her eyes. She's a respectable source. Her complaints seem valid — court system run poorly, yaddity yadda yadda. I prepare my column, pinning Evans wriggling to a board for the amusement of all.
     But journalism is a kabuki, a highly stylized form. It has its finely-calibrated rituals. Before I can run my vivisection of Judge Evans, there is something I must do — you kids, fresh hires, any ideas? C'mon, don't they teach you anything at the Medill School of Storytelling, Communicative Arts, Interpretive Dance, or whatever they call the place nowadays? (Actually, it is — checking my notes — "The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications." A staggering example of malpractice, which I only mention because I intend to start a fundraising campaign to purchase an ampersand for the school).

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  1. Another terrific column. I think you meant to compare Johnson to a defensive back who ignores the player running past him for a touchdown. Quarterback doesn't work, I think

    1. Thanks. You're absolutely correct. It was supposed to be "linebacker," but there was a fumble along the way, so to speak. It's fixed now, online.

    2. He wrote "linebacker", at least in the Sun-Times version I read.

    3. It's "fullback" in the print edition. "Quarterback" online for a few hours, and now "linebacker." We're all struggling to master a new system where changes are not intuitive. Then add human error. Not a big deal. "Even noble Homer dozed."

  2. Enjoyed this so much, I read it twice. Afraid the mayor is a lost cause, but such word-smithing!

  3. I told all my friends he was a fake. They voted for him anyway.

  4. I didn't vote for him, my friends didn't vote for him, we knew he was just a CTU stooge.
    But please, enough with the city that works crap!
    This city has never worked properly, because it works on bribery & nepotism.
    Most of what the city does is incompetent.
    Just look at the city's absolute refusal to rid us of 400,000+ lead water service lines. Chicago was the last city in the country to require them. NYC banned them in 1946, but Chicago continued to require them until 1986, when the federal EPA woke up & finally banned them. The city required them not for any logical reason, but because the politically powerful plumbers union wanted them, due to the fact it took four plumbers to handle a 50-75 foot long coil of heavy lead pipe. Only two are needed at most for the much lighter copper pipe, which is safe to use.

  5. Bravo! This reconfirms my opinion that the suburbs abutting Chicago (the ones that get straight taxi fare from O’Hare) should get half votes in Chicago mayoral elections.

  6. We were stuck with two poor mayoral candidates - I chose the "other guy" fearing Johnson's inability to lead a city. You hardly ever hear him in public. Even City business is he pretty secluded and minimal. Whether he has 'something to hide' or not - he doesn't bolster much confidence or trust

  7. Absolute masterpiece. When I got my Sun-Times and opened page 2, I thought, oh boy is this gonna be good. And it sure is. No columnist could have said it better. Fullback, quarterback, linebacker, closer to the Three Stooges when they hand the opponent the ball and point them to the correct end zone. Beautiful. Nobody does this better.

  8. I attended a campaign event of his when he was running for mayor...he seemed so graceful, smart, and witty and that made him stand out from the pack for me -- I had high hopes for him. I would never have expected him to display all the opposite qualities once he took office. He must be getting terrible communications advice - or if that's not the case, he's not listening to his experts. Which is needlessly dumb.

  9. And now that bumbling incompetent Johnson has appointed yet another bumbling incompetent as the temporary building commissioner

  10. The bigotry of low expectations on full display in today's post and comments. It's not what someone says or doesn't say that matters . It's their actions that the press should report upon.
    Politicians are used my the media for entertainment . It's all about the clicks.
    Hard news does not sell

  11. People overuse LOL, but I did actually laugh out loud when I read this: "I intend to start a fundraising campaign to purchase an ampersand for the school". You have not lost your touch!


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