Monday, September 28, 2015

Is Kirk obnoxious jerk toward his staff? Maybe Chicago Tribune will tell us

The Chicago Tribune did wind up publishing a story in their not-quite-as-fat-as-they-used-to-be Sunday editions about Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., but not the one that many people were led to expect.

KIRK: Killed criticism? Or delayed it?
For what the newspaper wound up publishing buried on Page 14 of the front section was an Associated Press story that turned up in other newspapers across the state – one about how Kirk’s campaign manager engaged in tactics meant to cut off an anticipated Tribune story.

IF WE’RE TO believe the Kirk people, the Tribune was threatening to expose a story that would show how obnoxious and bordering-on-tyrannical the senator could be toward his staff.

Supposedly, he verbally harassed four people who worked for him. Which led the Kirk people to come up with affidavits from those staffers saying they never said the things that the Tribune was supposedly going to report they said about their boss.

Kirk people even went so far as to accuse a Tribune reporter of harassing the senator’s 79-year-old mother in efforts to gather information for this story that we have yet to see.

As it turned out, the Kirk people turned to the Capitol Fax newsletter, which on Friday published details provided by Kirk meant to undermine the story and portray it as some sort of personal vendetta by a particular reporter (whom I must admit to not knowing personally, even though there are some Chicago Tribune people whom I do know).

THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES published their own account – one that included a response by Chicago Tribune management that basically said they stood by their reporter’s reporting without elaborating further.

That caused the Associated Press to pick up on the Kirk peoples’ tactic and make it news – which is what the Tribune published on Sunday.

I don’t know how odd this particular tactic ought to be regarded as – because it isn’t odd for someone to try to undermine a story they have concerns about.

Story on hold? Or spiked?
During my time as a reporter-type person, I have had enough political people try to intimidate me into not writing something (a bit of advice to those who want to bully, it usually motivates me all the more to write something). Or maybe they scream to my editor in hopes she/he will give them what they want in order to make the rant go away!

IT ALSO ISN’T odd for someone to want to hurt a news media outlet with a potential story by peddling it somewhere else – usually somewhere where they think it will be written up more sympathetically.

Meaning the person who had hoped for some sort of “exclusive” story winds up having that ego-perk undermined.

Kirk people said they timed their response out of the belief that this “story” would be in the Tribune on Sunday – which it wasn’t. Although for all I know, it may wind up in the Monday paper and you may have read it before you even saw this commentary.

Personally, the tactic strikes me as being petty – and probably reflects poorly on the Kirk people. Because coming up with that many statements from people saying they didn’t say what the newspaper may have said they said makes me wonder if they bullied their staff into “taking back” their thoughts.

WHICH MAY WELL play into the theme of the alleged story (I haven’t seen it yet, so maybe it doesn’t exist).

Could this be from someone who just wants to garner support from those people who will believe anything they’re told – so long as it starts out as an Internet rant? Which usually is the path toward collecting information that is total junk!

My own opinion is that a story claiming a political person engages in tyrannical behavior isn’t that newsworthy – most people who run for office have over-bloated egos and think (on a certain level) that no one ought to be questioning them. It seems to me to be more the material for an item that the Chicago Sun-Times' Michael Sneed would write.

But after reading how much the Kirk people don’t us to read this, it makes me (and I suspect many others) want to see the end result to figure out for ourselves what the big deal was.


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