It was recently revealed by the Chicago Tribune that CNN coordinated a series it aired called “Chicagoland,” with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The purpose was to make him look good, no question about it. This is not journalism, and heads should roll at CNN for this political hackery on behalf of a political hack. Fox News’ Media Buzz covered it briefly at the end of last Sunday’s show, but this is an egregious violation for a news network, and deserves much greater scrutiny. Clearly, CNN was helping to advance Emanuel’s political ambitions, while presenting it as “non-scripted” programming.
In his book Duty, Former Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates describes Emanuel, the former chief of staff to President Obama, as a “political animal to his core”; and “Armed with an inexhaustible supply of ‘f-bombs,’ he was a whirling dervish with attention deficit disorder” while in the White House.
One of CNN’s biggest mistakes was gaining entry to Emanuel’s political territory with the help of a public relations firm, Jasculca Terman, whose CEO is a “friend of Emanuel’s dating back decades, and both worked together in the Clinton White House,” according to the Chicago Tribune. “When Emanuel announced he would run for mayor in 2010, it was Jasculca and his daughter Aimee Jasculca who fielded media calls on behalf of the budding campaign,” they report.
The PR firm acted as the gatekeeper for Emanuel and Chicago City Hall. “The ‘Chicagoland’ producers got the green light for access to Emanuel and City Hall after a meeting arranged by the Chicago public relations firm Jasculca Terman, records show,” reports the Chicago Tribune.
Many of the emails back and forth between CNN and the Mayor’s office do sound like outright flattery, and smack of public relations maneuvering absent the necessary journalistic integrity and neutrality one would hope to expect of CNN. “I know we still have time to round out the Mayor’s story and present him as the star he really is,” wrote producer Marc Levin in one email. “This is a real opportunity to highlight the Mayor’s leadership—his ability to balance the need for reform and fiscal reality with compassion for affected communities and concern for the safety of Chicago’s school children,” Levin also wrote.
Levin then appears to coordinate a scene that aired in the documentary with the Mayor’s staff. “We need the mayor on the phone in his SUV, in city hall with key advisers and his kitchen cabinet and meeting with CPS head BBB [Barbara Byrd-Bennett] and with CPD [Superintendent Garry] McCarthy,” Levin writes.
“The first ‘Chicagoland’ episode, televised in March, featured just what Levin had requested: slow-motion images of the mayor climbing into his SUV and talking on his cellphone, and Emanuel’s meetings behind closed doors with Chicago Public Schools CEO Byrd-Bennett and Chicago police Superintendent McCarthy,” reports the Chicago Tribune.
Even The New York Times wasn’t buying this as a documentary. “The new show about another troubled city and its leader looks more like an ad campaign than a documentary,” wrote the Times’ Alessandra Stanley.
“Mr. Emanuel’s abilities and noble intentions are laid out, over and over, by a gruff-talking narrator, Mark Konkol, a Chicago journalist, who says that the mayor’s vision ‘can be boiled down to a simple phrase: building a better Chicago.’”
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom