In an earlier age, this would be shocking enough to bring network executives tumbling out of their offices. In today’s world of absurdly biased left-wing media, it’s a footnote. But for what it’s worth, the Chicago Tribune just busted CNN for allowing Chicago mayor (and former White House chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel’s office to orchestrate some propaganda in what viewers were told was an unbiased “documentary” series:
If it seemed as though some scenes of CNN’s documentary series “Chicagoland” were coordinated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City Hall and the show’s producers, that’s because they were.
More than 700 emails reviewed by the Tribune reveal that the production team worked hand in hand with the mayor’s advisers to develop storylines, arrange specific camera shots and review news releases officially announcing the show.
Producers asked the mayor’s office to help them set up key interactions in what the cable network has billed as a nonscripted eight-part series, including Emanuel’s visits with the school principal who emerged as a star of the show, emails show.
City Hall’s frequent correspondence with the producers illustrates how senior aides to a mayor known for shaping his media image managed how CNN would portray their boss to a prime time national audience.
The production team for the series, whose final episode aired Thursday night, told Emanuel’s staff that particular scenes would present the mayor in a positive light, with one of the producers expressing a desire to showcase the mayor “as the star that he really is.”
Yeah, the “star” that turned his already violent city into a non-stop bloodbath – a gun-control utopia where the sandwich shops are building bulletproof enclosures to keep their employees safe. The American city that’s now more dangerous than Iraq. Let’s have some more fawning propaganda pieces about that guy.
It would be one thing if this level of puppeteer control from the Mayor’s office had been disclosed to viewers in advance, along with the slobbering mash-note emails written by CNN producers to the subject of their “documentary.” One email from a producer to Emanuel advisers gushed, “This is a real opportunity to highlight the Mayor’s leadership – his ability to balance the need for reform and fiscal reality with compassion for affected communities and concern for the safety of Chicago’s school children.”
Forthrightly inform the audience that the production was heavily stage-managed by politicians, make it clear that the production team reveres the politician in question, and you might still have a problematic production – why the hell is CNN choosing “star” politicians and devoting its resources to making them look better? Shouldn’t this be treated as an in-kind campaign contribution under our complex campaign finance laws? – but at least it would be essentially honest.
But viewers didn’t know about all that until the Chicago Tribune got its hands on this behind-the-scenes correspondence with an open records request. CNN should be utterly ashamed of itself. This is not “business as usual” for the documentary trade. To the extent that it is representative of how the news is manufactured, it reveals a mainstream media that’s in even worse shape than we thought.