MEDIA WATCH: Catalyst's sanctimonious McCarthyism... Or 'Are you now or have you ever been a supporter of the Chicago Teachers Union'?

One of the plagues of post-modern "journalism" has been the sanctimonious claims of neutrality, independence, and objectivity from reporters who have been spinning the news in the direction of the corporate agenda for decades while cloaking themselves in a veil of righteousness. One of the most melodramatic local examples is Catalyst magazine and its parent, the Community Renewal Society. Both of them long ago abandoned any pretext of exposing what's really going on in Chicago and have cuddled up like other lapdogs to the plutocratic powers that rule the city.

Catalyst publisher Linda Lenz has been around a long time providing propaganda as "independent reporting" on Chicago's corporate "school reform" attacks on the public schools and promoting each new reform fad and every latest manufacturer crisis. Above, on April 12, 2007, Lenz was on a panel with Melissa Roderick, one of the main proponents of the bankrupt "small schools" program for segregated inner city schools, at the AERA annual meeting in Chicago. Every permutation of the corporate party line has received support from Catalyst, which never goes back to take a closer look at each previous iteration of the bankrupt attacks on the city's public schools. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Take the latest contribution to "independent" reporting on Chicago's schools in Catalyst, where the Board of Education's official party line (unsourced, naturally) is utilized to slander one of the many truly independent groups that has been organizing in opposition to the current official lies of CPS about an "undertutilization crisis" and a "billion dollar deficit."

Students of history will remember the notorious line from the House Un-American Activities Committee and other red-baiting institutions: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" Well, Catalyst has updated the spirt of Joe McCarthy and the others of that ilk for the 21st Century: "Are you now or have you ever been a supporter of the Chicago Teachers Union?"

The following lead paragraphs from Catalyst's coverage of the Parents $ Teachers press conference on Lincoln's Birthday comes straight out of a playbook that could have been written by "Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy" 55 years ago:

"A coalition of parent and community groups called on outside help Tuesday to try to put the brakes on massive school closings, which they fear even large, well-organized opposition won’t be able to stop.

"In a complaint to the CPS Inspector General and cc’d to the Illinois Attorney General, Parents 4 Teachers (a group that CPS says has been organized by the Chicago Teachers Union, which is adamantly opposed to closings) charged that the school closing process is wrought with “employee misconduct,” conflicts of interest and misinformation.

“'We want CPS to be held [accountable by] an independent body, to shine a light on what is going on,' said Erica Clark, a member of the coalition. It is unclear whether the Inspector General would launch an investigation."

When Substance staff members met with John McDermott 30 years ago to discuss the problems facing Chicago's public schools, there was still some reason to hope that the Community Renewal Society would retain a critical viewpoint on power in Chicago. That is long gone, and Catalyst, which is published by the Community Renewal Society, is a festering reminder that the rot of propaganda posing as "news" needs a veil of holiness to get away with things like pushing the "CPS" party line while supposedly reporting a story. If Catalyst wants to publish a story about what CPS officials claim about the relationship between the Chicago Teachers Union and various community groups, maybe it might want to report it, rather than serving as a king of sewer through which the sludge of CPS propaganda is passed along as "independent reporting."


February 13, 2013 at 9:55 AM

By: John Kugler

Enemy of the People

In all class struggles over the years it is always nice to see what happens when citizens take power.

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