Governor Rauner on Tuesday accused WBEZ of discontinuing an “Ask the Governor” segment with him because “it’s really more of a Democrat station.”
The Chicago Sun-Times responded with an editorial headlined, “Going down ‘fake news’ low road, Gov, is bad for democracy.” Rauner has never run around shouting “fake news,” says the Sun-Times, “until now.” The editorial goes on to more broadly condemn complaints about “fake news” by Trump and others, which they equate with Rauner’s comments.
The trouble is, Rauner didn’t shout “fake news.” He said no such thing. He didn’t even use the term. He just said he thought cancellation of the show was attributable to WBEZ being “really more of a Democrat station.” Linked here is the Sun-Times news story on what Rauner said. (The whole thing, by the way, is based on a Tweet by Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune about a comment Rauner made while meeting their editorial board.)
Look, Rauner may well have been wrong to attribute the cancellation to bias. He may even have been dishonest about what he really thought. I have no idea. He often shoots off at the mouth with false claims. But he certainly didn’t make the kind of false “fake news” claims the Sun-Times spewed about.
Was Rauner’s premise right that WBEZ is “mostly Democratic”? The Sun-Times says no, that they are “beholden to no party or ideology.” Did they write that with straight faces? Puh-leez. WBEZ doesn’t do fake news and they genuinely attempt to be balanced. I’ve been on the air there and that’s my view. I’d bet they cancelled Rauner’s show in good faith. However, they clearly see the world through a progressive lens and that’s reflected in their programming, the stories they cover, the questions they ask and more. Whether their perspective influenced their decision to cancel is an natural question that does not imply they are a fake news source.
Worse, the Sun-Times went on to say this: “[T]o broadly brand the news coverage of much of the mainstream media as biased and untrustworthy, just as a general rule, is to undermine the role of an institution — a free press — that is essential to a democracy. It is dangerous.
Sun-Times, you can drop dead on that. Most, not “much,” of the mainstream media is biased and untrustworthy, on both the left and the right. Flagrantly so. That’s what’s dangerous. Shame on the Sun-Times for taking the wrong side on that.
Ironically, the Sun-Times news pages usually are among the most objective and unbiased, which is why we link so frequently to them here. But their editorial board and every one of their opinion writers are lefties. Not a hint of lip service to different perspectives.
-Mark Glennon is founder and Executive Editor of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.