Annabel Kent, Chicago Media Critic Chicago Tribune columnist and political satirist John Kass coined the term “combine” to refer to the combination of Illinois pols from both the Democrat and Republican parties who combine their efforts to fleece the Illinois public.
It fits nicely with political reality.
It also fits when applied to the two, big, daily newspapers that represent Chicago’s dead tree media: the Tribune and the Sun Times.
Each has their benefactors and constituency, like the two political parties, but, like the two political parties in Illinois, they really don’t compete against each other. They combine their efforts to share the market that is Chicagoland’s designated “big” stories.
Take, for example, the David Koschman Case. The Sun Times resurrected the story about the same time it, coincidentally, became the media shill for the new Rahm Emanuel regime in City Hall. Their motive? Discredit the former long-standing Daley regime machine, and, thereby, build up the new, more honest, City Hall bunch in-charge.
In the meantime, Koschman Case Special Prosecutor Dan Webb has, to date, billed $585,000 while conducting an alleged investigation into the incident that happened over 8 years ago. It’s just another charade for the benefit of the Cubs, Bears and Sox fans. (A better use of that money, and much more, would have been to give it to Mrs. Koschman for the wrongful death of her son.)
Then there’s the alleged Frawley-McMahon lawsuit that the Times reported – only to have it vanish from view in a couple of days, like a mole that sticks its head up from its hole, and then ducks back down. Just another effort to smear a former Daley crony. It went nowhere – just where it was intended to go.
On the other side, there’s the Trib’s involvement in the Blago Saga when one of its reporters tips off Blago that his phone is bugged by the feds. Then, behold, out comes a book by two Trib reporters that reveals the paper received special, privileged information from the US Attorney’s Office. (Even going back to the original tip-off to Blago, you suppose?)
So did you hear the Sun Times cry “Foul,” and “Hey, how’d the Trib get special treatment?”“Where’s ours?” No you didn’t – and you won’t.
Why not? Because the two papers are not competitors. It’s a combine arrangement.
They each get their share, play their designated role, and maintain the pretense of an independent, competitive newspaper environment where the truth comes out as eager reporters hustle to scoop each other on the next big story. The stuff of Hollywood movies.
In true life, the newspaper combine matches the political combine that Kass has long highlighted.
And it works, both for the pols and for the newspaper editors and reporters.
Why: Because the suckers keep reading the dead trees thinking they’re getting “the news,”when what they’re really getting is the news the combine wants them to get.
[hat tip: John “Combine” Kass]