MEDIA WATCH: Sun-Times stays in the tank adoringly for Rahm as teacher strike looms... A closer look at that front page story 'The Closer'

The press pen in the Chicago City Council chambers, unlike the press room, does not have assigned seats. But any reporter who dares to sit in the first chair is quietly warned by one of the sergeants at arms, "That's Fran's seat." And for the reporter who asks, "Who is Fran..." the answer is a shocked glare. "Fran" is Chicago Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman, long a darling of the Chicago Headline Club and supposedly an insider.

The Chicago Sun-Times began providing uncritical coverage of Rahm Emanuel's antics long before the newspaper was purchased by a group of millionaire buddies of Rahm. Above, Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman stayed close to Rahm during an August 2, 2011 publicity stunt prior to the opening of the "Track E" schools three months after Rahm's inauguration. The Sun-Times touts Rahm's version of events in both its news and editorial columns, and periodically adds to the Rahm stories in its gossip columns. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. But as careful observers have noted since the inauguration of Rahm Emanuel as mayor of the nation's third largest city in May 2011, Spielman's location during City Council meetings is about 30 feet away from that prime real estate in the press box. Since Rahm took offices, Spielman has been in his back pocket, so long and so deep that every time he farts she has to call out that it's really the scent of Chanel Number 5.

By August 2011, even the usual hagiographic Chicago magazine had stopped touting the miracles of Rahm Emanuel's administration. And the year during which Chicago's rookie mayor received adulatory coverage in national magazines ranging from The Atlantic to the Economist ended long ago, when the city's murder rate got stuck at an all-time high (because of a failed and mendacious policing strategy, brought to Chicago by Rahm's ego and his computerized governance thinking) and the city's teachers (despite a year of carefully orchestrated teacher bashing backed by everyone from Rahm's Hollywood millionaire backers and local plutocrats like the Pritzker and Crown clans) voted overwhelmingly, despite Rahm's tear-filled attempts at a last minute legislative ban on Chicago teachers' strikes, to authorize their leadership to strike the nation's third largest public school system for the first time in a quarter century.

Meanwhile, the second-tier newspaper in The Second City was purchased by some Hedge Fund friends of Rahm. Immediately, the Chicago Sun-Times begin acting as if Columbia University were about to award a Pulitzer Prize for the daily tabloid that published an adoring photograph of the city's mayor on its front page the most times. And the reporters at the Sun-Times, although still protected by a flimsy union contract, began writing less independently than their brothers and sisters a half mile away at the anti-union Chicago Tribune (where empty desks in the huge newsroom are reminders to those left with jobs that they could be dumped tomorrow if they offend the gods that rule Chicago).

On August 24, 2012, the Chicago Sun-Times published a front page story that would have embarrassed a rookie fiction writer in some sophomore high school class. "The Closer," as the front page headline screamed, is just the most dramatic example of the genre now pioneering by the Rahm Emanuel fans in the Sun-Times newsroom. Based solely on a "City Hall Insider..." as a source, the Sun-Times story unfolds a melodramatic scenario that, once again, puts Rahm and the center of a Hollywood script, and ignored most of the facts.

For example, the Sun-Times article mentions that one of the "high level" people expected to become involved in negotiations with the CTU at this point is former English Major Beth Swanson, who has been serving as Rahm's liaison with the Board of Education since May 2011. During her time at CPS, Swanson was part of the management team supported by former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who is now cast as a coward by the Rahm Emanuel version of events. Swanson served as budget chief during the administration of Daley's protege Ron Huberman, even though she had no training of credentials in finance (but was good at narrative). During the years after she left the Board, she worked for Penny Pritzker as chief of the "Pritzker Traubert Family Fund," a charity operated by Penny Pritzker and her husband. Now Swanson is back in the public education spotlight, with a great deal of her actual career left out of the Sun-Times scripted versions of events.


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