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Tilting at Windmills

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September 28, 2009

THE WRONG KIND OF OLYMPIC EXCITEMENT.... It seems the story of the day on conservative blogs deals with a Fox affiliate in Chicago, which ran a feature on some locals who don't want the city to host the 2016 summer Olympic games. Given their excitement, it's probably worth taking a moment to knock the "story" down.

Drudge is apparently responsible for getting the right all worked up. The site has a banner headline: "Fox-TV Chicago ordered not to run anti-Olympics story."

A local TV station that reported on Chicagoans NOT wanting the Olympics has been told NOT to run the report again, insiders tell the DRUDGE REPORT! The Chicago Olympic Committee told FOX Chicago that its broadcast 'would harm Chicago's chances' to be awarded the games. The station's news director ordered staff to hold fire after the report aired once last Thursday morning, claims a source.

As Alex Koppelman noted, "A report like this, exclusive or not, wouldn't normally merit prime placement on Drudge's site. But with Obama's involvement, it becomes a banner headline, because the newsman's implication is clear: The media's being told to back off from a story that could hurt the president, and because the press is in the White House's pocket, they're complying. Conservative bloggers are, of course, picking up the story and running with it in that direction."

Malkin got in on the fun this morning, telling readers, "Drudge reports that WFLD-TV has been ordered not to broadcast an anti-Olympics segment again."

Notice, right off the bat, the passive voice throughout all of this. The affiliate was "has been ordered." The station "has been told." Who's doing the ordering and the telling?

It's vague for a reason -- reality, in this case, isn't especially interesting. Last Thursday, the Fox affiliate in Chicago aired a 60-second report on some locals who don't want the Olympics. Officials at the Chicago Olympic Committee said the report might undermine the city's chances of winning the games -- those who award the games want host cities to actually welcome the Olympics. Public relations people discourage local news outlets like this all the time.

And based on Drudge's "report," the Fox affiliate apparently found the concerns compelling. The report already aired, but the station doesn't intend to re-run it.

That's it. That's the whole story. No heavy-handed government interference; no censorship; no evidence of political pressure. It's the lead story on Memeorandum this afternoon because ... well, I'm still not sure why.

It's a good thing the Washington Post and New York Times will be paying closer attention to the stories far-right blogs care about most. They might have missed this gem.

Steve Benen 1:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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I have it on good authority that Rahm Emmanuel, on orders from Obama, had a team of Acorn agents seize WFLD-TV and send all the members of the WFLD news division to re-education camps.

(These people don't consider us part of "real" America anyway, so can't they stay out of our business?)

Posted by: Royko on September 28, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Also, Rupert Murdoch is on record as stating that Fox will not bid on Olympic TV rights for 2016 unless Chicago is the host. One would think that Fox's Chicago affiliate would know this, and be anxious to be the "hometown home station" of those games.

Posted by: DJ on September 28, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez, Mike, I thought you were deadI Or is that Studs?

Posted by: DAY on September 28, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

All the local affiliates are running Olympic protest stories.

They've been on TV all morning today.

A lot of us don't want the Olympics here.

Posted by: dontcallmefrancis on September 28, 2009 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

there are good reasons not to want the olympics in chicago -- hating obama aint one of 'em...

Posted by: neill on September 28, 2009 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

I highly doubt that Obama would be going himself if the deal wasn't done already.

I'm sure Dick Army had to bus in some malcontents from Wheaton to give WFLD their "Chicagoans opposed to the Olympics."

Posted by: SaintZak on September 28, 2009 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

How dare Obama try to get jobs for an American city!!!

Posted by: g on September 28, 2009 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

The local alternative weekly, the Chicago Reader has regularly run articles against the Olympics.

Who in their right mind would believe that in a city as big as Chicago for an event as (alas) grandiose as the Olympics, that there wouldn't be a significant group against it?

The joke is assuming that only the local Fox affiliate would run something like this.

Posted by: leo on September 28, 2009 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Do local news affiliates often rerun their 60-second man on the street stories?

Posted by: Alex on September 28, 2009 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

The conspiracy continues! Did you know that the head of the Chicago Olympic Bid team is Pat Ryan? He is the head of AON, the country's largest insurance broker! If Obama helps get the Olympics for Chicago, then AON will back the public option!!! But only if they get a precentage on everyone forced into it!

Where is Malkin? Where is Drudge? Run with it!

Posted by: Gridlock on September 28, 2009 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

"The local alternative weekly, the Chicago Reader has regularly run articles against the Olympics"

Has The Reader ever had a positive opinion on anything? I can't even recall a positive movie review from them. They should change their name to Chicago Ennui. If they're not bored then they're annoyed. There's that age between 20 and 24 when everyone thinks The Reader is the coolest thing. Afterwards its only good for the concert listings and bar guides.

Posted by: SaintZak on September 28, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Obama wants the Olympics in Chicago so that he can act like Hitler in Berlin, 1936.

Posted by: qwerty on September 28, 2009 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Politics aside, Rupert Murdoch is a greedy capitalist. He wants to make money. He looks at the potential for local ad sales, not to mention sales for his network, and his eyes light up.

And this story would have played out the same way if Sarah Palin were President, at least as far as the actions of local Fox management.

Posted by: Art Hackett on September 28, 2009 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

The Olympics were the worse thing that ever happened to Georgia. The games brought plenty of international types with deep pockets who saw lots of cheap undeveloped land and sought a way to buy and develop it for quick profits. This increase the rate of sprawl growth by five to ten times. The housing bubble on top of that has really wrecked the natural environment. It wasn't necessary.

My advice to Chicago is to not be very disappointed if the games don't come your way. Instead of dreaming of performing at the Chicago Olympics, your children may learn to read and do math and science really well: more important skills than competing at sports.

Posted by: anomaly on September 28, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

The Reader has run very well researched articles on the Olympics, which opposed Chicago's bid for very good reasons: the virtual certainty that it would be a big money-loser for the city, the permanent havoc that it would wreak on many Chicago parks, the enormous interruption to public and private transportation during the summer of the games, the diversion of funds from many far more important needs of the region. Do you really trust Richie Daley and Patrick Ryan so much as to think the Olympics would be beneficial? Maybe you should try to read something other than concert reviews, e.g. Ben Joravsky's continuing coverage on Richie's TIF scam.

Posted by: bob on September 28, 2009 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Oh please, The REader has spent years and years complaining about Daley waking up in the morning because he's popular. Next election he'll win in another lanslide and he'll keel over in his office just like his father.

In my house, there are two very large macaw cages that put The Reader to good use.

I was born and raise in this city and I'm 52 years old, and the Richie Daley years are the best years I've seen in this town. Sure he's corrupt, they all are. You can go back to the Bilandec/Byrn/Washington years if you want. They were just as shifty, but the city got trashed under their watch.

Posted by: SaintZak on September 28, 2009 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

I live in the Chicago suburbs and am less than enthusiastic about the Olympics coming here, though I remember living in an LA suburb when the Olympics were there and it wasn't bad at all (mostly because a large proportion of the locals thought it would be a great time to go somewhere else). If I actually lived in Chicago proper I might feel otherwise.

Posted by: DavidNOE on September 28, 2009 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

As info, I live in Chicago, voted for Obama and really don't want the Olympics. It will be an orgy of corruption for the Daley Machine and Obama should stayed out of it. The only jobs it will generate will be for Daley nephews, nieces, cousins and sycophants. Please pray we don't get it.

Posted by: Sauce on September 28, 2009 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Every city that has ever hosted the Olympics had opponents of the bid. Opposition stories get more play the closer to the vote. The most important factor the IOC considers, no matter what they say, is whether or not the host city can promise a profitable event.

Chicago's only real competition is Rio de Janiero. The vote will be close. President Obama wouldn't be going if the vote was not going to be close. While Chicago would surely be adequately profitable, I think the sentiment for awarding the Games to a South American host city for the first time gives Rio a slight edge over Chicago.

Posted by: jpeckjr on September 28, 2009 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Conflating the info from Mr Benen's post with that from the comments of DJ, Gridlock, Art Hackett, and others, here's what I've come up with:
Murdoch orders Fox Chicago to do a piece on local opposition to the Olympix;
Fox Chicago does and airs same;
Murdoch orders Fox Chicago not to run piece again, nor to do any follow-ups, and to let it be known that they've been "ordered" --by parties un-named, but w/strong hints that it's various and sundry Dem's and liberal powers-that-be -- not to;
Limbaugh / O'Reilly / Beck / Malkin / etc, having been primed in advance, are ready to roll.
In a previous lifetime, I'd have thought even consideration this as a possibility would be evidence of clinical paranoia. Buty we've now had 8 years of Cheney/Bush, and revelations like the one that CNBC's Rick Santelli's "spontaneous" meltdown (ostensibly triggering the "grassroots" teaparty "movement") had been carefully scripted months in advance.
And it's pretty clear that there's nothing -- nothing at all -- that these scum won't do to retain and perpetuate their wealth and power.

Posted by: smartalek on September 28, 2009 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

If I were from Chicago, I'd be hoping not to get the Olympics.

Pretty much every host city ends up spending billions of dollars on it, and afterwards are left with white elephant hotels and sports stadiums.

The blue-ribbon events are generally all sold out, and the only thing you can get reasonable tickets for is the table-tennis preliminaries, or the heats of the women's track cycling (sorry to all the Victoria Pendleton fans out there, but we're unfortunately in the minority, especially outside the UK).

I expect it would actually be cheaper for the bid partners to simply offer to pay the airfares of any Chicago residents who want to see the Olympics in Rio than make a bid themselves.

Posted by: Robert Merkel on September 28, 2009 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Lived in Chicago a long time ago. Great town! I will always remember Mayor Daley (the first one) telling the press that his mother always told him he was born with mistletoe on his coat tails. The common wisdom was an honest politician was one that stayed bought after you paid him. And yes, I remember reading a positive review once in the Reader; I think it was about a gay costume ball.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on September 28, 2009 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

eRH5Nf I want to say - thank you for this!

Posted by: jonnjenkind on September 29, 2009 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

The Olympics were the worse thing that ever happened to Georgia.--anamoly

That is getting it backwards: Georgia was the worst thing that ever happended to the Olympics.

LA and Barcelona, are prime examples of fantastically successfully Summer Games that had long-term positive impacts on the host cities. To name but one examplge, LA youth sports are funded from Olympic surplus $s even to this day (25 years later...).

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