When I reposted former Sun-Tmes Springfield bureau chief Dave McKinney’s Why I Left letter yesterday afternoon, I didn’t expect
3,000 6,000 page views by this morning. But that is what I got.
I should not have been surprised. It is a classic Chicago story.
A stand up reporter doggedly follows a story that shines a negative light on gubernatorial candidate billionaire Bruce Rauner. Rauner goes to his friends who own the Sun-Times to get the story killed. The reporter gets gagged when Sun-Times editor and publisher Jim Kirk pulls him off the Springfield political desk. The reporter resigns and releases a letter that lets the world know what happened.
McKinney’s Why I left letter got so many internet hits yesterday that KcKinney set up his own blog to publish it.
It’s kind of ironic that famed Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee died Tuesday. Sun-Times editor and publisher Jim Kirk is no Ben Bradlee. This guy caved to Rauner faster than the Cubs at mid-season. If you were looking for a Chicago version of All the President’s Men, you won’t find it in the Sun-Times newsroom.
If they ever make a movie, Kirk is more likely to be played by Pee Wee Herman than Jason Robards (I know. Robards is dead. But go with me on this).
This is all very bad news, not only for Rauner, but for Rauner’s BFF, Rahm Emanuel.
Let me explain.
It is no secret that Rahm unofficially supports Rauner in the race for Illinois Governor. When Obama came to Chicago this week for a Quinn rally on the south side, every Democrat was there except the Mayor.
Rahm and Rauner’s friendship goes back to the days when Rauner set post-Clinton Rahm up in the hedge fund business.
Plus their pro-business views are identical.
And they share friends among the Sun-Times bosses.
The role of the Sun-Times is very valuable to Rahm in the race for mayor.
We saw a taste of it when some Sun-Times reporters and gossip columnists wrote some stink pieces on Karen Lewis, claiming she was a real estate tycoon because she had a time share in Hawaii.
As I understand it, as soon as the November election is over, the plan was for the Sun-Times to go after Bob Fioretti with similar mud.
Following Karen’s withdrawal from the race due to her illness, Bob Fioretti is the progressive alternative to Rahm.
In some polling I have heard about since Karen withdrew from the race, Fioretti and Rahm are even.
The perception and reality for the Sun-Times is that its news coverage can be bought.
Already reporters like the great Carol Marin, who worked with McKinney on the Rauner story, are putting distance between themselves and the Sun-Times.
And others who behaved so badly in reporting on Karen will have Dave McKinney’s principled stand as a model of journalistic behavior.
It’s bad news for Rahm.
And bad news for Rahm is good news.