I’m a lifelong Chicagoan and grew up on the Southside, where Democrat machine politics is the norm and a way of life. In fact, I grew up two blocks from Louis Farrakhan’s house and, ironically, ran for the same congressional seat as Barack Obama did against Rep. Bobby Rush. We both lost. He eventually won… the Presidency.
Despite the political environment, or because of it, I am a conservative. I host a radio show called the Kelly Truth Squad on WIND-AM (560) in the Midwest. I also contribute to the “Big” blogs and to the Washington Times. Prior to this, I had been involved in anti-tax policy advocacy and activism since the early 1990s. As a result, I have taken numerous politicians to task with difficult questions the media hasn’t taken too kindly to. The upshot is that it isn’t easy being a conservative but it, especially, isn’t easy being a conservative in Chicago.
However, it is a city I understand very, very well. Consequently, I knew all the politicians would be out in force at Columbus and Balboa Drive on Monday, where they always are on Columbus Day. I wanted to interview as many politicians as possible for my radio show and for my blog. I also knew that Rahm Emanuel, an announced candidate for Mayor of Chicago, would also be there. He had been getting softball questions from the Chicago media all week. Not a tough question in sight. I thought, great, this is a perfect opportunity to ask him about the stimulus bill – something that he might believe was his greatest accomplishment as President Obama’s Chief of Staff. I wanted to hear his answer to this question since many Americans are angry about the stimulus.
When I saw Emanuel, I approached him in a friendly manner. I even welcomed him back to Chicago. However, as soon as I tried to ask him about the stimulus, his press secretary ran interference and distracted me by asking me what radio station my show aired on. When I tried to ask him my question again, ABC political reporter Charles Thomas and CBS chief correspondent Jay Levine tried to prevent me from asking my question. They physically blocked me and tried to discourage Emanuel from taking me or my questions seriously.
This is when things started to get antagonistic. I continued to ask questions and didn’t give in. It got heated. After being interrupted repeatedly by both reporters, CBS’ Jay Levine blew up and said he would “deck me.” What would have happened if the tables were turned and I told Levine that I was going to “deck him?” I would have been charged with assault and arrested on the spot. Why was Levine upset and so angry? I believe he wanted to give Emanuel the opportunity to give his campaign speech to camera without criticism or question. In my book, that isn’t what journalism is supposed to be. Thomas and Levine were both asking Emanuel easy questions – not questions intended to provoke a discussion of the real campaign issues or Emanuel’s track record.
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If Rahm Emanuel had merely answered my question, I would have probably gone back to my office, uploaded the interview to my website at the kellytruthsquad.com, it would have received 87 views, and that would have been the end of it. However, now it has become a story, not because of me, but due to the actions of the biased Pro-Obama media in Chicago. They are the ones that interrupted my questions to Emanuel, not the other way around.
I think that – due to their arrogance, sense of entitlement, and political bias – these reporters believed that I was “in their way.” I was in their way simply because “I exist.” They did not consider me a member of “their group.” Since I wasn’t a reporter at CBS or ABC, in their mind, I wasn’t allowed to ask a question. Moreover, I really wasn’t allowed to ask Rahm Emanuel a tough question. They did not see any professional problem in blocking me, elbowing me, pushing me, pushing away my microphone or trying to intimidate me into leaving. I’m not sure they even know what Freedom of the Press means. They proved that.
After their actions, there was no way I could actually leave until I got an answer to my question. I am from the Southside of Chicago after all and I stand my ground. America was founded on this basic idea of being able to question authority and stand up for what you believe in.
However, there can be a consequence for standing up. Today, the Chicago Sun-Times is doing a story on this incident. The writer of the story has already contacted the GM of WIND-AM, the flagship station for the Kelly Truth Squad radio show. The reporter asked the GM if he was going to terminate my contract. Why would my contract be terminated for trying to ask a politician a question? In Chicago, there is no outcry that Jay Levine be removed from CBS for making a threat of physical violence. Is that hypocritical? Yes. This is Chicago after all.
I think mainstream journalists are confused by what is taking place in America today – that more people are actually taking back their rights and freedoms that are codified in the U.S. Constitution. We are all standing up and it surprises them, shocks them, and scares them. And I am proud to be one of those standing up with you.