An open letter to WBEZ: Steven Edwards.

18 Sep

Hi, Steve.

My name is Ben Beard, and I’m a public school librarian. You seem like a nice guy and a congenial host for a radio program, but I’m detecting something sinister.

An underlying pattern.

A tendency towards deference to the people in power.

I’m accusing you of anti-scrutiny.

Yesterday, a guest on your show began to comment on the mayor’s policies. She said, in short, that Rahm is privatizing education—that this was part of his ultimate goal—and that tif money was being pulled out of the public school system to give interest-free loans to downtown developers.

But, you cut her off near mid-sentence, and misdirected the conversation to Rahm Emanuel’s impact on the upcoming presidential election.

This was strange. The guest was not speaking to this issue. You moved her away from the core issue of the teachers’ strike—which, alongside the Scott Walker recall in Wisconsin, is the biggest labor story in twenty years—and you briskly moved her to a national issue. Why?

WBEZ is always on in my house, car, and at work when I don’t have students. I listen to your program almost every day. You cover Chicago stories, but you do not investigate the mayor’s policies. Ever. Why not?

In fact, none of the WBEZ reporting has focused on the mayor’s policies. You haven’t done a story on the increase in the crime rates around the city (estimated in some places around a 30 percent bump) due to Rahm’s handling of the police force; you haven’t spoken of the UNO Charter School Network contributing to Rahm’s mayoral campaign, and then reaping the benefits from his policies once he was in office; you haven’t examined the tif money—admittedly begun under Daley—that has taken public money out of the school system for years (I have only the great Ben Joravksy at the Reader to thank for my understanding of it); you haven’t dug at all into his proposed (and as far as I know passed) energy tax. I listen to WBEZ every day and I know nothing about his energy policies, his handling of other public institutions, his connections to moneyed power brokers around the globe.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

What gives? WBEZ is a public radio station. Rahm Emanuel is not the public. He’s one man, with a handful of bean counters around him and some old fashioned, deep-pocketed corporate backers behind the curtain. It is your job to investigate these issues. If you don’t do it on your program, who will? WBEZ has to stop protecting him. Even if I agreed with his views, which I decidedly do not, it is your duty to interrogate, scrutinize and investigate the mayor’s claims, positions, backroom dealings, and the like. It is your duty, dammit.

Please, please, please, please do better. You cannot steer guests away from digging into the mayor’s core policies and beliefs. Voters can vote for him if they desire, but they should have a larger understanding of what his agenda really is, and what the city might look like if he continues to serve as mayor.

You are a member of the fourth estate. It’s time to earn your stripes.



P.S. This is an open letter.

One Response to “An open letter to WBEZ: Steven Edwards.”

  1. Teddy F Marino September 29, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    yea, edwards! get offa rahm’s junk and say hello to mr. beard!

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