The media’s obsession with Mike Madigan

The media’s obsession with Mike Madigan
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The media’s obsession with Mike Madigan

The news media is making a big deal about an email sent by a lobbyist who happens to have worked with a lot of politicians, Democrats and Republicans. But although the email never came from Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, the media is doing everything they can to use the controversy to attack Madigan. The larger mainstream media doesn’t care about what’s right any more. They care about what’s politics and agrees with their partisan views.

By Ray Hanania

Every time something critical happens in Illinois politics, the media immediately connects it to Mike Madigan and tries to blame him.

The pattern is really less a symptom about Madigan’s conduct and more about the media’s increasing demise.

More and more, the mainstream news media is deteriorating and falling apart, mainly because of their own self-destructive actions. They will do anything to recover. It’s not working. The mainstream news media is biased. It has its sacred cows, specific issues and topics it protects outside of the process of objectivity and fairness.

I’m not talking about the smaller community newspapers like this one, which focuses on local issues. I’m talking about the corporate-owned, larger national news media and regional newspapers.

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Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan addressing the Oct. 21, 2018 candidate's forum hosted by the Arab American Democratic Club in suburban Chicago. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan addressing the Oct. 21, 2018 candidate’s forum hosted by the Arab American Democratic Club in suburban Chicago. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

The most recent example of how this dying media industry’s desperate efforts to find relevance is in the stories about the email of Mike McClain, a powerful lobbyist for Commonwealth Edison (ComEd).

McClain wrote an email, not to Mike Madigan but to former Gov. Pat Quinn. Quinn began as a reformer who’d destroyed a great system that ensured that Democrats and Republicans had a House legislative voice in district’s controlled by the other party. He was the “reformer” who didn’t do as well as he had hoped an done day crossed over to become an insider.

In ComEd lobbyist McClain’s email, he was defending a guy named Forrest Ashby, identified as a longtime state prison system employee who was involved in a disciplinary case. The McClaim email was sent to a staff person working for Quinn.

The email was picked up by WBEZ radio, a notable media operation despite having a very clear liberal agenda, and that is funded by public donations, corporate grants and government agencies.

The email is a puzzle, and it reads:

“For God’s sake do not let this disciplinary meeting get out of hand. This man is a good compliance person, as I told you. The (attorney general’s) office and the Sheriffs love working with him. He has kept his mouth shut on Jones’ ghost workers, the rape in Champaign and other items. He is loyal to the Administration.”

Who is “Jones”? What are the circumstances of the “rape in Champaign?” No one knows yet.

Before anyone could figure it out, though, the news media has been pointing fingers at Mike Madigan. They blame him for McClain, a state lobbyist who lobbies EVERYONE, not just Madigan’s office, who is fighting for the rights of a guy he says “kept his mouth shut” about an unknown “rape in Champaign.”

This story isn’t about Mike Madigan. It is about the news media and how far it has wavered from its mandate to be objective, fair and accurate. Subscriptions and advertising is falling steadily. As it worsens, the mainstream major news media compensates with exaggerated and screaming headlines. They hate Madigan because he is the most influential politician in Illinois. By attacking Madigan, they hope to distract the public from their own failure to do their jobs.

The media is pandering. They are manipulating the narrative. They are trying to influence the public to believe something rather than just presenting the facts so the public, not them, can decide what is true.

I don’t know where this story will end. But I do know one thing, the news media doesn’t know where this story is going either. Throwing Mike Madigan under the bus inappropriately and without facts is a reflection not of a state official’s problems but rather of a dying industry desperately trying to claw out of the hole it dug itself.

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