MEDIA WATCH: Sun-Times owner is a union buster and privatization fan

So the Chicago Sun-Times decides that a publicity stunt with little prospect as a serious lawsuit and challenge to CPS policy is Page One "news" three days before the Chicago Teachers Union's runoff election? And the publicity stunt merits more ink than the Sun-Times has given to the more than 2,000 public school teachers who have already been given termination notices as the Chicago Public Schools Huberman administration forces principals to organize schools based on class sizes of 35. Two weeks after the Sun-Times decided to ignore most of the stories swirling around the May 25 demonstrations from City Hall to the Board of Education, while focusing a cheap little story on Marilyn Stewart, as orchestrated by Stewart's publicist?

Page One of the June 8, 2010 Chicago Sun-Times. A non-story becomes big news three days before a crucial union election.Really, should anyone be surprised?

As soon as I read the page one story hyping Marilyn Stewart's lawsuit yesterday, I was back in time to the City Colleges strike. At the time, James Tyree was chairman of the City Colleges Board. Many part-time professors honored the picket lines, even though they were not union members. After the strike, Tyree had them fired, one-by-one, by a vote of the Board. Like the Chicago Board of Education, the City Colleges Board is stacked with flunkies for Mayor Richard M. Daley, as usual fully ranging across the "diversity" spectrum. Tyree was the most prominent among them. Unlike the Chicago Board of Education, not all of them were millionaires.

When Tyree purchased the Sun-Times (mostly, it appeared, with other people's money) it was after a New York investor reorganized the Sun-Times Board of Directors and forced the newspaper into bankruptcy, despite the fact that the only major debt of the Sun-Times corporation was to the Internal Revenue Service as a result of the mismanagement of the paper's former owner, Conrad Black and Hollinger International.

The Sun-Times bankruptcy wiped out Sun-Times stockholders (at the time), including many Sun-Times staff members — and me. We owned several thousand shares of Sun-Times stock, which became virtually worthless when the directors took the corporation into bankruptcy. Unlike the Tribune, the Sun-Times had little external debt and a large number of properties that were bringing in regular cash or were valuable as assets. That didn't matter since, as some of us suspected, the deal had been cut early. Once the Sun-Times was in bankruptcy, arrangements were made to sell it to James Tyree. The Sun-Times went into "bankruptcy" long after the Tribune did, and emerged almost immediately.

The rest, as they say, is history, right down to today's Page One story touting Marilyn Stewart three days before the June 11, 2010 CTU runoff election. Hopefully, it will enable teachers to follow what is passed off as "news" by Chicago's corporate press more rationally.

The Sun-Times story itself on June 8, 2010.Anyone who still believes that Chicago's daily newspapers are "independent" in the corporate battles raging around us is too naive for a discussion. The decision by the Sun-Times to hype what amounts to a pre-election publicity stung by Marilyn Stewart is typical, and can be saved for later reference and as an example of what we've long talked about at Substance.

The press in the USA is "free" — if you own them. The one person we at Substance have a hunch might be rolling in his grave at this point was know as SET (Samuel Emory Thomason) who owned the Chicago Times, the rollicking New Deal era (and Roosevelt supporting) tabloid that has been written out of the official history of the "Sun-Times." Interested readers who care about accuracy in Chicago (and Chicago newspaper) history might want to take some time learning about Thomason's life and career, but you won't learn it from the official versions of how the "Sun - Times" was born. That story covers only the Marshall Field side, and ignores the sometimes bloody battles to have a morning tabloid on Chicago's streets during the 1930s — supporting Roosevelt and the New Deal in a town that was dominated, in the media, by the racist, union busting, chauvinistic and often bizarre Chicago Tribune.

But that's another story for another time... 


June 11, 2010 at 8:17 PM

By: Jim Vail

Media Ripoff

The Sun Times deems the Marilyn Stewart press conference front page news, and then write an editorial slamming the lawsuit, saying it can't work.

Tyree who bought the Sun Times is a big time financier of real estate development in Chicago and donates a half a million dollars to "charity" every year.

But check out which charities he donates to -perhaps the ones the city approves which allows him to make the deals with the city that costs us the taxpayers as the Bloomberg article pointed out when Chicago refuses to issues bonds competitively.

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