Thursday, December 20, 2007

Herald's Chicken: A Deeper Shade of Yellow

posted by Peter Rossi

Just when you thought that the Herald's "coverage" of the closing of the Co-Op couldn't possibly get worse or more biased, the Herald surprises with "Co-Op Board Rejects Members Pleas" (lead story in the December 19th edition).

The idea here is that the Co-Op board, in honoring the clear majority of votes for option A , was rejecting the pleas and exhortations of barely 75 people attending the board meeting (see Richard Gill's recent post for an accurate account). Option A, you may recall, replaces the moribund Co-Op with a new grocer thanks to a multi-million dollar gift from the University of Chicago. The votes of some 3200 members don't count. We learn that they were duped by a slick PR campaign.

This is classic NIMBY logic -- only a few enlightened and privileged souls should lead our community. The rest are too gullible or too easily swayed by logical reasoning. The reality of the mountain of Co-Op debt, farcical mismanagement, and customer alienation be damned!

Who perpetrated this latest Herald outrage? There is no by-line. Perhaps, some poor Herald reporter, who was ordered to write this drivel, is trying to preserve hope for a career at a real newspaper. More likely, this story was written by heavy-handed Herald publisher, Bruce Sagan. It is ironic that Mr. Sagan asks others to stand up against the evil University but is unwilling stand up and be counted himself.

The self-congratulating reporting of "Hyde Park Businessman" Bruce Sagan's last minute, hollow offer of $500,000 is particularly amusing. Where was Mr. Sagan during the pledge drive? Will Mr. Sagan forgive the Co-Op's unpaid advertising bills? Two can play this game. I've decided to pledge $10,000,000 to the McGovern campaign of 1972 myself.

Of course, the Herald fails to note the courageous efforts of Co-Op board members (including some who were against option A) and Alderman Preckwinkle to patiently explain that the Co-Op is bust with its own members voting it out of existence. The Herald doesn't report the outrageous and unsubstantiated allegations of bribery and extortion that filled the air of the meeting.

The story is chocked full of quotes from a Mr. Mulberry making such outrageous statements as that Mr. Sagan could find "100,000" friends to contribute to the Co-Op. The Herald, through Mr. Mulberry, paints a picture of a populist grassroots campaign against the PR machine greased by the University. Herald forgets to note that the house organ, The Evergreen, was full of NIMBY nonsense on why you should vote for B and was sent to all members. Those in favor of Option A did not have access to this mailing list.

The splurge of yellow journalism ends with a thinly disguised threat of a "class action lawsuit." As usual, the Herald simply speculates, wistfully, about this and can't name any source. If this pipedream comes about, it will be interesting to learn how the "class" will be defined in the lawsuit -- all those who have suffered food poisoning from Co-Op purchases?

The Herald is one of the longest-lived neighborhood papers, providing endless examples of editorializing in the news pages. I offer a smattering of headlines from the past and wish everyone a very Happy Holiday:

(while none of these are actual headlines from the Herald, many are based very closely on actual headlines -- try to guess which ones these are)

"Herald Investigates: M.S.I. Coal Mine Revealed to be a Fake"

"University Eyes Englewood Ghetto"

"Nieman-Marcus Signs 47th Street Lease"

"City to Pave Over Point"

"Despres admits - 'I'm a Communist'"

"Herald Investigates: Alderman Receives Campaign Contribution"

"Point Revetment Predates European Settlement"

"Doctor's Hospital Missing Work of Louis Sullivan"

"Woodlawn Renamed Saul Bellow Drive"

"Borders Dooms Local Bookstores"

"Herald Investigates: SECC arm of University"

"Sacred Shrine Found in International House"

"Herald Investigates: Parking Spaces Disappear at Night"

"Flu Outbreak Linked to Mid-Rise Development"

"Antheus Capital Buys Rockefellar Chapel"

"Moresbach Donates Parking Space to City"

"57th Street Mailbox on 'Orange' Preservation Alert"

"HP Historical Society Endows NIMBY Center at U of C"

(answer: all of them, ho, ho, ho!)


Jennifer said...

Please tell me some of those are fake.

They aren't, are they. Oh dear.

Peter Rossi said...

they are fake. I certainly didn't mean to suggest that they are real.

I apologize if this was unclear.

However, some of them could be real!!