Friday, July 27, 2007

News Reporters on Mob Payroll?

I am always amazed at how the media covers mob trials.

There are so many expert commentators. They all report on the mob like they have been covering them for years.

Actually, some reporters have been covering for them for years. One reporter was on the payroll of a mobster for years. Every reporter knew but no one said his name, because the mobster was an alderman and committeeman.

No. I’m not talking about Fred Roti, the kindly alderman of the First Ward who was the City Hall representative for the Mob’s political enforcer, John D’Arco Sr.

When I first arrived at City Hall in 1976, as a freelance writer doing my first interview with the first Mayor Daley, “da Boss,” to the time I left in 1992, it was obvious that many reporters knew a lot more about the Chicago mob than they let on.

The only time we write about them is when one of them decides to squeal, or is brought before a court. And then the reporters, hypocritically, pontificate about the ills of the Chicago Outfit, the Mafia, la Cosa Nostra.

Hypocrites because all of the reporters, including me, knew which ones were the mobsters and which ones weren’t. We knew which powerful aldermen and committeemen were the lackeys of the Chicago mob, and who were their attorneys, too. Yet, we never exposed them. These mobsters walked into the Chicago City Hall Press Room all the time. They attended meetings of the Chicago Democratic Organization, all the time.

They buddied up to even the Republicans out in DuPage County and stood next to Cook County State’s Attorneys.

When I left newspapering for a brief sabbatical into the dark and seamy world of Chicago politics as a consultant, some of my clients were, in fact, mobsters. The most notorious were those in the Town of Cicero.

I was always amazed at how reporters called Betty Loren-Maltese asking for favors on one hand, and, maybe not getting them, sat back while their newspapers pummeled her in their coverage on the other.

I’m not defending the incarcerated mob heiress and vicious Town President who relished in destroying lives and careers and lying. She deserves her prison sentence and far more. But let’s not pretend that the news media in Chicago isn’t cozy with the mob or that just Mayor Richard M. Daley is afraid to talk about the topic.

The mobsters have been crawling around Chicago City Hall, and Democratic and Republican politics in Illinois, for generations and we only address it when it becomes the headline and can’t avoid writing about it.

I won’t spill any beans. Why should I be any different? The Chicago news media doesn’t care and I doubt that most Chicagoans really care either.

We know they are there. We voters elect them to office. And we elect their political pals, cronies, lackeys and funders to government office, too.

So, as we listen to the sordid and grisly tales offered by Nicholas Calabrese in the highly touted “Family Secrets” mob trial now taking place and filling our front page headlines and columns and the TV reports of overly tanned and hyped up TV reporters, remember, the mob is there because we all allow them to be there.

I wonder if Chicago politics depends on them being there.

Thanks to Ray Hanania

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