Chicago Sun-Times Pursues Politician Who Dares to be a Mom
By Erik Wemple
The week of the Democratic National Convention generated a few media outrages. MSNBC and big newspapers failed to give proper attention to the Democratic Party’s platform meltdown; reporters are complaining about their jobs; and there was some terrible fact-checking of Bill Clinton’s Wednesday night speech.
None of those offenses approaches what appeared over the course of four paragraphs in a Chicago Sun-Times story on the career prospects of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
The piece from Charlotte, headlined “Lisa Madigan refuses to tip hand on governor’s race,” discusses how she has become a serious contender to challenge for the office of governor. A fine line of questioning. Until this happened:
Madigan and her husband, Pat Byrnes, have two young children, ages 7 and 4. She was asked whether she could serve as governor and still raise her kids the way she wants to.
“Wow. Does anybody ever ask that question?” she said. “I’m very lucky to have the support of my family. My husband helps take care of our kids. But, I think more people should ask that of men running for office as well.”
Pressed further on whether she could simultaneously hold both jobs — governor and mom — she said, “I can be the attorney general and do that. There are plenty of women who juggle.”
Reminded that being governor is a lot more demanding than attorney general, she said, “All of these jobs are very demanding. And people who, unfortunately, have to work three jobs and don’t necessarily have health-care coverage — they’re even in a worse situation. So nobody needs to give any pity on what elected officials have to endure.”
Pay close attention to the grammar here. The Sun-Times treatment notes that Madigan “was asked,” was “pressed” and was “reminded” about all these bigoted matters. Just who, then, was doing the asking? Was it some non-Sun-Times reporter who happened to be clustered around Madigan? (The blog Name It Change It has this take.)
Natalie Bauer, a spokeswoman for Madigan, replies: “It’s my understanding it was a Sun Times reporter, but you’d have to confirm with the paper who was the one asking.”
Tried; no response.
Yet who can blame the paper for trying to obscure whether the reporters bylined on the story — Dave McKinney, Fran Spielman and Natasha Korecki — had been walking around the Democratic convention armed with an appalling double-standard?
The vigor with which these questions were posed to Madigan states clearly that the questioners — whoever on earth they may be! — have their doubts as to whether Madigan could, or should, serve as governor-cum-mother. How many years into the 21st century are we?