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MEDIA WATCH: Chicago's corporate reporters would ignore a fart in a crowded elevator if their masters ordered them to... Why was the December 13 CPS vigil non-news to the dailies and the TV stations while Rahm could waste hundreds of reporters' hours staging 'CompStat CPS'?

It's getting almost tiring to go to a carefully staged Rahm Emanuel media event on one side of town and then go to an actual news event later and see the story ignored by the slaves of Chicago's corporate media propaganda campaigns. And on December 13, 2011, there was no better place to witness how news is basically, as 2011 draws to a close, managed propaganda for the city's corporate rulers — the "one percent" of Occupy fame.

First, the morning event. For nearly two hours, beginning around 10:30 a.m. and ending after the noon whistle, two dozen reporters and camera crews (including this reporter) were herded around Chicago Police Headquarters at 35th and Michigan for another of the longest running publicity stunts in Chicago history, the Rahm Emanuel Show. This day's chapter was called "CompStat CPS" and featured about two dozen media people, another two or three dozen media handlers from CPS, City Hall, and the police department, and more than 100 police officers and police officials. Plus CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard and six carefully screened public school principals.

The show was to present a thingy called "CompStat CPS," which will supposedly provide safer schools (and reduced truancy, if the PR is to be believed) thanks to a version of "Data Driven Management" being promoted by Rahm Emanuel, Garry McCarthy, and Jean-Claude Brizard.

First, the itinerary. Reporters showed up between 10:30 and 11:00 at Police headquarters and were told to set up in the room where press briefings are held. So everyone did.

But a little after 11:00, everyone was told to saddle up and go into the next room, where CPD, Chicago, and CPS were set up to state a "Comp Stat CPS" show just for the reporters. That lasted almost a half hour, after which as the show continued, reporters were returned for another 20-minute wait in the smaller room.

After which Rahm Emanuel came in, followed by Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, who answered some (definitely not all) reporters' questions. Pride of place was given to the Chicago Sun-Times, which pushed its latest "investigative" work by asking questions about the scandal of people fraudulently using disabled parking tags to park in spots marked for the disabled. After all, that's the biggest story in town, if the Sun-Times is to set the agenda (which it partly did on the morning of December 13, 2011 at Police Headquarters). Another major issue was the question of whether the G-8 summit in May was forcing Chicago citizens to change their plans for weddings, baptisms, and (as Rahm reminded the reporters with a smile) Bar Mitzvahs. Although Rahm ignored a Substance question about policing, schools and CompState (the question would have followed some of the discussion at the CompState show, where reporters were told that police officers round up truant kids from Gage Park High School during the school day, as if (a) the cops had nothing else to do and (b) CPS had no other staff to do the work of truant officers, which every district in Illinois has except CPS). It was really nothing personal, since Rahm had to answer those pressing questions about parking raised by the trivialization of investigative reporting currently under way at the Chicago Sun-Times. So I left the question with Beth Swanson, the mayor's top education liaison, and left. As of dawn on December 14, Beth hadn't gotten back to me.

But the joy of watching the decrepitude of Chicago journalism was really at its peak by dawn on December 14, when it became clear that the same corporate media outlets that had wasted dozens of man and woman hours at CompStat CPS earlier in the day completely ignored the massive protest outside the headquarters of the third largest school system in the USA a few hours later. Really. It was that kind of day.

At least earlier in the day the Chicago Tribune had noticed that Jean-Claude Brizard, the handpicked schools chief of Rahm Emanuel, was now facing three lawsuits back in Rochester, New York, which bid him good riddance after three years of bland smiles and attempted manipulations.

Perhaps that's why Rahm wouldn't take a Substance question. He was afraid we'd ask about the Brizard scandals Rahm doesn't yet know about. But, really, we were going to ask about truant officers, and gangs. In that order. Had not the mediagenic mayor of America's Second City not decided it was more important to talk about parking spaces and G8 inconveniences that morning.



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