Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Innocence Project, Chicago-Style Politics, the White House, and Unfriendly Press

I've written before about the Innocence Project, and the attempted stifling of its work by Cook County (Illinois) prosecutors. In a nutshell, the Innocence Project works to free prisoners it finds have been wrongly convicted; recently, Cook County prosecutors have subpoenaed not only the Project's records but also the academic grades of the students involved in the Project's work.

Cook County is home to Chicago; why should we expect anything less than thuggish behavior from its politicians--especially when one of those politicians occupies the White House?

The Cook County prosecutors' actions are certainly shameful. But they may be excused for thinking that attacks on media critics are, in today's political era, business as usual. Indeed, they need look no farther than the White House, whose occupant has sometimes styled himself the nation's chief media critic.

It is, after all, the Obama administration that declared that its critics at Fox News Channel are not real journalists, and that Fox is not a "legitimate news organization." In doing so—as White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs admitted with a reference to "brushback pitches" in baseball—the White House's goal was just the same as that of the prosecutors in the president's native city: To chill criticism, and to get journalists to think twice before stepping up to the plate...

The lesson from the White House is clear: "Real" journalists are those who aren't too critical of it. But America is not Cook County, and it's doubtful that Americans will tolerate the Chicago Way when it comes to journalism.
Let us hope.


allen (in Michigan) said...

So what's the upshot of trying to exclude Fox from the pool interview of that pay czar?

My prediction was that the White House would quietly back down when the other news organizations in the pool refused to go ahead with the interview with Fox excluded but I haven't been able to track the on-going story.

Ellen K said...

Darren: I've been reading Chicago papers all summer. The written rhetoric about Obama has changed from bliss to sour rapidly. There's a story linked in my post today about "created or saved jobs" in the Chicago schools. Read the comments from Chicago citizens. I think the bloom is off the rose.