(Starting this week, Lou Carlozo’s “Lou’s Views” column will run simultaneously on Qwoted and Talking Biz News. Look for it on Mondays each week, or as often as Lou can crank it out.)
On Halloween Monday I opened my mailbox and, tucked between the expected raft of political postcards and their half-baked rants, I pulled out a “newspaper.” So much for a timely delivery: It had “Week of Oct. 3-8” printed on its skyline. Better late than never, I suppose, when it’s election season and you want to deliver a trick — definitely a trick — as opposed to a treat.
I long ago decided I’d had enough of reckless types on the right decrying “fake news” — meant, the news hard conservatives don’t like about things that, uh, you can actually document — while using the muddied waters as an ideal cover to put out their own fakery. (Strongmen across the world, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, invoke “fake news” accusations routinely now as they spew propaganda meant to depict horrific violence as justified and noble.)
But the bogus “Chicago City Wire” is unique: as laughable as it is deplorable. You’d have to be dumber than a box of rocks to believe this is actually a legit media outlet worthy of respect. In a world of emerging deep fakes, it’s as shallow and see-through as it gets. Many of the “articles” attack incumbent Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker. The governor and many reporters have outed it, not that the amateurish paper needed any help.
Chicago City Wire is the product of the Orwellian-named Local Government Information Services, a Lake Forest-based LLC run by prominent conservative Brian Timpone and associated with conservative radio voice and Republican political strategist Dan Proft. And it has gushed on behalf of gubernatorial Darren Bailey, who even in an age of stolen-election claims to gin up the masses is running his campaign on empty. Hours before election day, the popular Pritzker is up by more than 13 percentage points. Not even close.
But I suppose if Chicago City Wire were to commission a poll, Bailey would be on top in a race that’s too close to call.
Another media mind bender
I don’t know what to make of packing the wolf of political spin into the sheep’s clothing of a crusading newspaper. Why not just shove all the screwed-up screed into political ads and campaign flyers? Maybe it’s because CCW lends an air of authenticity to the mud. It’s baffling how those who decry the mainstream media as untrustworthy seem so ready to exploit what “media” stands for as a platform.
When the inexcusable bluster of InfoWars’ Alex Jones, a glorified hawker of nutritional supplements, turns grieving Sandy Hook parents into death threat targets, he defends the outright lying as a commentator’s First Amendment right. Tucker Carlson depicts agenda-driven quarter-truths as real reported journalism. (Fact: Swanson’s father Richard was one of several sloppy reporters who sealed the demise of Look magazine in one of the most consequential libel cases in journalism history .)
In platitudes worthy of a fifth grader’s report, Mark Zuckerberg defines free speech as helping people to say what they want within his precious walled garden, even if it encourages the kind of computer-generated reality that election-meddling Russian leaders love, and that makes teenage girls on Instagram suicidal.
Social media is not media. But thanks to Zuck, the village idiots once confined to shouting at scarecrows in a barren field now have worldwide reach. They can now stimulate the angry caveman brains of unsuspecting people everywhere. Oh, long live free speech, especially when there’s no responsible editor around to monitor it!
A white conservative playing the minority race card?
Next to these examples, Chicago City Wire represents something of a trifle. In fact, it’s backward: Why impersonate the 20th Century model of the newspaper when you could start a faux-Twitter, news website or video streaming channel? The answer, I believe, lies in just how cynical, shameless and sloppy the whole thing is.
One week, CCW featured a centerfold with 36 mugshots of alleged criminals that the publication claims will be released upon the institution of the Safe-T Act, a criminal justice reform law passed in 2021. Most depict Black Americans and all but three appeared to be people of color. Then in the oddest of turnabouts, the issue in my mailbox featured head shots of 25 area student athletes; 19 of the former high school football players are black, Latino or of color.
Then there’s the sad case of leveraging the worn-tread cred of a veteran Chicago Sun-Times journalist Dennis Byrne. The paper is giving him “front page” publicity for his Pritzker book “The Governor You Don’t Know” and identifies him as a “Sun-Times editorial board member,” directly implying he still is. But Byrne stopped writing for the paper years ago — in 2000, so his own LinkedIn shingle says.
“Provide us with a single inaccurate story and we will correct it,” crows a non-bylined piece on the City Wire front page, titled “A challenge to our critics.”
I think I just did.
Ohhhhhh. Wait a minute. “Provide us” means that I’m giving them an inaccurate story to correct. I think they meant “point out to us” or “provide us with an example.” But hey, what’s a little butchered grammar between true journalists?
Let’s play a (Chicago City Wire) game, shall we?
Rather than replay the fear mongering and spurious claims of Chicago City Wire for you — think of Pritzker as a supporter of trans grooming, or kink and trans-friendly sex toys for Illinois school kids — I think it would be a little more fun to try writing the Chicago City Wire Way. Let’s face it, you can only tell the truth and report things out for so long before you become jealous of people who flaunt their bad grammar, empower themselves to write whatever the hell they want, and boldly proclaim/disguise it as news.
This envy, this utter envy, has moved me on a quest to learn more about Chicago City Wire. I know it’s a tool of Republican operatives who, if they cared to report a true controversy, might start with Bailey’s claim that members of “the Jewish community” supported his comparison of abortion to the Holocaust. Yet a) Bailey couldn’t name any of those supposed supporters, b) defended himself when rabbis rose up to condemn his remarks, and c) refused to apologize when the media grilled him about it. Bailey said in a 2017 video:
“The attempted extermination of the Jews of World War II doesn’t even compare on a shadow of the life that has been lost with abortion since its legalization.”
While I can’t match Bailey for his level of horrible insensitivity — I should mention here that Pritzker is Jewish — I can tell you what my Chicago City Wire investigation uncovered:
Unnamed sources tell us that Chicago City Wire set up a covert operation in a smoked meats shop in Chicago’s Fulton Market neighborhood. Upon investigation, we found no evidence of a printing press, raising the question of whether any equipment was moved to an undisclosed location. Multiple attempts to reach Chicago City Wire were unsuccessful.
A former state’s attorney, who asked not to be identified, said that Chicago City Wire was a front for a black market beef brisket operation with ties to the Kazakhstan mafia. “Darren Bailey may be involved,” the source said. “I think he loves smoked meats, too.” We can confirm that Bailey has been photographed eating meat. The obvious conclusion some observers have drawn is that Bailey is anti-vegan, and if elected would either make vegetarianism illegal, or require all Illinois residents to carry a proof-of-carnivore card. Authorities also want to know whether any Chicago City Wire operation concealed in a smoked meats kitchen failed to comply with city health codes.
Provide me with a single inaccurate sentence and I’ll correct it … then put it in this airtight story. I stand by my work.
Outrageous, right? Lies, you say?
That’s what you folks in the fake news media say every time.
Lou Carlozo is the Editor and Publisher of Talking Biz News and Qwoted’s Editor in Chief. All opinions expressed are machinations of the Deep State Fourth Estate. Connect on LinkedIn or email firstname.lastname@example.org.