By: Mark Glennon*

The Jacksonville Journal-Courier ran a article February 9 written by The Center Square headlined, “Without income tax tax change, expect cuts.”

Governor J.B. Pritzker’s press secretary, Jordan Abudayyeh, tried to kill the article by having it taken down. She emailed the editor of the Journal-Courier February 10, the full text of which we’ve obtained and copied below. In it, she wrote,

Jordan Abudayyeh

[T]his ‘article’ is filled with mischaracterizations and devoid of any context…it would be prudent to take down this partisan content masquerading as news…. The Center Square/Illinois Radio Network is a partisan ‘news’ service. You can read more about their operations here from this extensive study by the Columbia Journalism Review…. In this time when quality journalism is under attack, I would hope that you would reconsider reposting free content that’s partisan and doesn’t fully explain the complex challenges facing the state.

Journalists across the state should be criticizing Abudayyeh’s effort because it was deceitful, malicious and completely unprofessional. Here’s why:

•   The Center Square’s article was factually correct. It’s almost entirely about Pritzker’s statements that, if voters don’t approve a progressive income tax in November, he would reduce state spending across the board in future years.

But that’s exactly what Pritzker had been saying and continues to say today. That’s why opponents have been calling it the “scare tax.” Watch Pritzker, for example, in the video The Center Square posted with its original article. Pritzker now has built it into his proposed budget, which would cut discretionary spending if the tax hike isn’t passed.

•   The Center Square is simply not among the publications heavily criticized in that Columbia Journalism Review article, as Abudayyeh claimed. See for yourself. Her claim is flat out false.

•   Abudayyeh’s effort was not standard, acceptable criticism of an article but an attempt to discredit The Center Square entirely with a syndication partner. It’s perfectly normal and fair for politicians and their press flacks to call reporters or editors to complain about unfair coverage, but that’s not what Abudayyeh did. She didn’t even contact the author or his editors, according to The Center Square. Instead, she went behind their backs to and tried to smear them.

•   Abudayyeh is dead wrong to say that The Center Square is partisan or biased. Its editorials are fiscally conservative and its coverage centers on issues important to taxpayers, but that doesn’t mean their work should be purged because it’s partisan or biased. Left-leaning publications focused on issues important to Pritzker? No problem. Right-leaning publications focused on issues he’d rather not hear about? Partisan and biased. Silence them.

•   The article lacked “context,” Abudayyeh says. Ha! Read it yourself. It’s bland news on a narrow subject. If it really did put Pritzker’s claims into context it would take dozens of pages addressing Pritzker’s endless deceit about his Fair Tax and budget.

For example, had the story added context, it would have shown how spending wouldn’t need to be cut if the Fair Tax is defeated because savings from pension reform, if he’d allow them, could far exceed revenue he wants from the tax increase; that his “balanced” budget claims are nonsense; that he has grossly overpromised what can be accomplished with the new revenue; and that he’s been saying that, instead of spending cuts, taxes on everybody would have to go up with without the new tax on high earners, which contradicts his claim that 15 percent discretionary spending cuts would be needed.

I suspect something else set Abudayyeh off. Aside from the goal of smearing The Center Square and poisoning its syndication, I bet the headline on the article touched a nerve because it captures an angle that The Center Square may or may not have even considered. The headline, “Without income tax cut, expect cuts,” probably would elicit a loud “Yes!” from most Illinoisans.

I’ve had an article of my own in the queue for several weeks that I tentatively titled, “Pritzker says he will cut spending if no Fair Tax. Alright then?” Maybe Abudayyeh knows Pritzker’s scare tactics on the Fair Tax can backfire by making its defeat a promise of spending reform.

Abudayyeh has no excuse. She’s a former TV political reporter, anchor and producer. She surely knows better.

Malice, the standard for a defamation lawsuit if it were brought by The Center Square, means something written with knowledge of falsity or with reckless disregard for truth. If The Center Square suffers any damages from Abudayyeh’s email, I hope they know that shoe fits.

Finally, bravo to the Jacksonville Journal-Courier. They ignored Abudayyeh and let the article stand.

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints

Abudayyeh’s email:

Hello, 

I would like to flag this news article from Center Square/Illinois Radio Network: Without income tax change, expect cuts

 This “article” is filled with mischaracterizations and devoid of any context in which the Governor talked about the budget challenges the state faces and how, as he said and is not reported, the state will have to manage through them. Ultimately, it would be prudent to take down this partisan content masquerading as news. 

The Center Square/Illinois Radio Network is a partisan “news” service. You can read more about their operations here from this extensive study by the Columbia Journalism Review:https://www.cjr.org/tow_center_reports/hundreds-of-pink-slime-local-news-outlets-are-distributing-algorithmic-stories-conservative-talking-points.php

In this time when quality journalism is under attack, I would hope that you would reconsider reposting free content that’s partisan and doesn’t fully explain the complex challenges facing the state.

Please reach out with any questions or concerns. I’m more than happy to discuss! 

Thank you for your time!
Jordan 

Jordan Abudayyeh

Press Secretary 

Office of Governor J.B. Pritzker

9 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fed up neighbor
2 months ago

Jesus, 150,000 to be a press secretary, first I ever heard of her. Must be really really busy. Spent 40years in the railroad industry, never came close to making that much, like to see her in 30 below weather working outside in all types of conditions. This type of crap makes me sick.

Mr_Common_Sense
2 months ago

If you can sell your house, do it soon. Otherwise, you might be stuck with for years.
Illinois is so screwed, there’s nothing that can be done to save Illinois.
Hope this helps.

Ken
2 months ago

When was the last time a Democratic administration had a balanced budget in Illinois. Hell even Republican Rauner couldn’t get a balanced budget thanks to Madigan and his Democratic cronies who only know how to tax and spend. Pritzker is just blowing smoke. As for Abudayyeh, typical Democratic/socialistic smear tactics when they don’t like the truth coming out.

nixit
2 months ago

Isn’t Jordan one of JB’s lucky staffers that gets 2 paychecks, one from the state and one from Pritzker’s East Jackson Street LLC? Because this is what you’d expect from a PR person working for privately-held corporation, not the citizens of the state.

Anyways, it’s fun to see a big city Dem attacking the free press. If this were Trump’s camp, the media would be all over it. ‘Tis a dangerous time to tell the truth in America.

debtsor
2 months ago
Reply to  nixit

If liberals didn’t have double standards, then they’d have no standards at all.

NB-Chicago
2 months ago
Reply to  nixit

Great point nixit–and how much of jbs East Jackson Street LLC $’s are funneled in from his families undisclose tax sheltered offshore billions$$$

debtsor
2 months ago
Reply to  NB-Chicago

His Billions is with a capital “B”; a capital “B”, Billions.

Willowglen
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

I don’t understand this. By responding in such a way, Pritzker calls far more attention to the article than it would have received and unwittingly illuminates the prospect of spending cuts, which would welcome for many. The astounding thing is that there are so few willing to talk about the math (save for Wirepoints). Even if the Fair Tax is passed and rates substantially rise to collect an additional $10B (if productive people remain), it just wouldn’t dent the budget gap in a material way, and certainly won’t relieve property taxes. The math doesn’t discriminate in favor of JB or… Read more »