If anyone ever wonders why politics in the State of Illinois is such a bucket of worms they need look no further than the shot a CBS-Chicago bureau producer fired at Republican US Senate nominee, Mark Kirk the other day.
Said CBS producer, Ed Marshall in front of a live mike;
"Channel 2's made a decision. We're really not going to cover the Senate race if it consistently, only in your terms, is about Broadway Bank. The bank's been taken over by the government, Alexi's been pilloried. Tell me: what is your campaign going forward? What are the issues that you are going to tell the voters why they should vote for you?"
The Feds closed Broadway Bank on April 23rd, after it came up $395 million dollars short in the books. Now, two weeks later, CBS-Chicago is already tired of hearing about it. Producer Ed Marshall’s statement amounts to a CBS Policy Statement: CBS is not interested in digging into the story. Further, CBS considers the subject off-limits as a campaign issue. In other words they told Kirk to button his lip – or else.
Why is this significant? Because the “Alexi” in the above quote is the Democratic nominee for US Senate in Illinois, Alexi Giannoulias. He also happens to be the former VP and Chief Loan Officer of the Broadway Bank. Oops.
In an election year where the word “banker”, as Joe Biden would say, is a “four letter word”, CBS doesn’t want to rock any boats. Nor do they want Kirk to emphasize any clear distinctions between his record of service in Congress and the US Navy, and Giannoulias’ record of service making “juice loans” to Chicago mobsters.
Mark Kirk continually harping about Broadway Bank makes it tough for the media to run soft coverage of the Giannoulias campaign. Financial details get in the way of the warm and fuzzies about Alexi’s recent marriage or his love of Bulls basketball.
CBS would rather Illinois voters not ask themselves “Does a bank failure matter?” After all, in the grand scheme of things, what is another $400 million? Billions and Trillions are tossed around every day. At the federal level there are so many zeros on the end of budget deficits that the numbers runs off the edge of the page.
But, to answer the question – darn right it matters! Somebody has to pay it back. And we know that Democratic-connected insiders are not the ones who will be stuck with the bill.
Another thing the media would rather not concern voters with is the fact that a lot of the missing Broadway Bank money was lent to Chicago crime figures. Reportedly, Giannoulias lent some $20 Million to felons who were already convicted and were awaiting sentencing at the time the loans were made. This is the kind of banking we’d expect to see on The Sopranos. Yet, to CBS News Mob connections are not a disqualifier for public office. Today’s Democratic Party is a big tent.
The fact is, Illinois politics are conducted inside a house of mirrors, and everywhere the media looks they see a crook.
Standing in one spot inside that house of mirrors we see this: Alexi Giannoulias is the Democratic Party nominee for Barack Obama’s old US Senate seat, the same seat that former Illinois Governor Rod “Blago” Blagojevich attempted to sell for $5 Million dollars just a year and a half ago. The “Blago” trial is set to start in June. A key witness is expected to be money-man Anton “Tony” Rezko, who also helped fix things so Barack and Michelle Obama could buy their Hyde Park house at below market price. See how it works? One crooked politician reflects another. And we haven’t even mentioned three recent suspicious suicides (one just yesterday) or Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and the gaggle of Alderman and City officials under investigation.
This is the kind of delicate glassware that the Mainstream Media in Illinois has to tip-toe around every day. There are crooks everywhere and they need to be ignored. And, all the mouthing-off that Mark Kirk is doing is just making CBS’s job of keeping this Senate seat in Democratic control tougher.
To further move the narrative along, in 2006 Giannoulias got himself elected State Treasurer of Illinois. Don’t bother to ask “how’d that happen?” It’s just the way things seem to work in Illinois. On the good side, at age 30, he was the youngest treasurer elected in state history. On the bad side, his record in Springfield is similar to his record at the Broadway Bank. Illinois finances are a mess; per capita taxpayer debt is second only to California. Here’s an example; recently “Illinois Bright Start”, a State program that allowed parents to send money to Springfield to pre-pay for their kid’s college tuition, was found to have lost $85 Million dollars. That’s $85 Million in tuition fees up in smoke.
While we have to admire Giannoulias, he dogged; failing at one thing – at the bank or at the Treasurer’s job – he dusts himself off and attacks his next goal.
But, what about CBS? What makes them think they can tell a candidate which public issues he should ignore? In an era of economic turbulence aren’t a candidate’s financial blunders worthy of public examination, even if that candidate happens to be a Democrat? Has the mainstream media become that useless? Worse than useless?
I never thought I would think of Mark Kirk for more than two seconds. I didn't vote for him in the primary. He's a "moderate" Republican. One thing’s for sure, though; he hasn’t cost taxpayers a dime. But, between Kirk and Giannoulias how tough a choice can it be?
Illinois is one of the battlegrounds in the 2010 elections. But, there are hundreds of other battleground races, on every level, all over the country. Each one is important to the future of America. No matter where you live in the country there are good, clear-thinking candidates that need your help. Go ahead. Make the commitment to work the election this fall. You’ll get lots of exercise, you’ll meet great people, you’ll help the country, and you’ll drive the media nuts.
Here in Chicago CBS news is already working for their guy. For them, the old Democratic Party slogan seems to be the order of the day:
“Vote for the Crook. It’s Important.”
A version of this essay was published May 8, 2010 on
The American Thinker