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Feder Takes Journos in Walter E. Smithe Daley Tribute Ad to Woodshed

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 10, 2011 3:05PM


Friday we wrote of the Walter E. Smithe farewell tribute commercial for Mayor Daley, "the journalists who participated in this circle jerk should have erred on the side of objectivity and not done this." Time Out Chicago's Robert Feder was even more succinct and took the reporters and anchors who participated in the commercial to task for the doubly egregious sins of being in a commercial and, in Feder's words, "shamelessly kissing Mayor Richard M. Daley’s ass."

One reader in our post asked what the big deal was about people paying tribute to Daley "an overall good mayor." We'll let Feder's words provide the answer.

"First of all, when did it become OK for television news people to appear in ads outside of those for their own employers? When did their stations abandon adherence to the standards and practices of their parent networks?

"Beyond that, the notion of journalists gushing about how much they’ll miss Daley is just plain wrong. Expressing respect, I suppose, is one thing. But publicly heaping praise on a politician and professing gratitude to the guy? What part of “unbiased reporting” don’t they understand?"

The main beneficiary of this commercial are the Smithe brothers. Daley, acknowledged this to the Sun-Times, received no compensation for the commercial and said he agreed to do it to help out the Smithes. And Walter E. Smithe may be sponsoring a contest to find CBS 2 a new traffic reporter, but that doesn't mean Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson should be participating in the ad.

Now that it's out, the covering of asses has begun. CBS 2 anchors who participated in the ad have been edited out of the version on Smithe's website. WBBM President and Gm Bruno Cohen said in a statement the video was supposed to be "a few of its employees participate in what was described to us as a farewell video that would be given directly to Mayor Daley when he steps down after 22 years in office next week."

Like that makes it any better.

It's worth noting that WMAQ GM Larry Wert, anchor Allison Rosati, and reporters Natalie Martinez and Marcus Riley are still in the commercial.