Chicago Reader Sells Out, Again

September 2, 2020
Martin Preib

Yet another sign of no functioning media in Chicago.

In waging a four-decade war on the police, Chicago has become a proving ground that in cities where journalists are willing to sacrifice their duty at the altar of political radicalism, violent crime and chaos are the inevitable outcome.

No media outlet proves this more than the Chicago Reader, the city’s self-proclaimed alternative weekly. The Reader has spearheaded what is emerging as one false narrative after another of police corruption, mostly by claiming police framed innocent men in murder convictions. The glory days of this narrative are receding, with the journalists who fomented it retreating to non-profit media outlets like ProPublica or scoring jobs at universities that have profited handsomely from these stories foisted upon the public imagination. In the wake is a city simmering in violence and chaos.

On an almost weekly basis, the tenets of this narrative by the Reader are being ripped apart, none more so than in the federal courts, where city attorneys are making one compelling argument after another that the men who were released from prison on claims of police coercion are, in fact, the monsters police and prosecutors said they were. Those convictions took place when trials were conducted in Chicago courtrooms, not the contemporary Chicago media circus largely created by the Reader.  

Avoiding this evidence places a great burden on a Chicago journalist who, under the guise of a reporter, must at least pretend words have meaning and facts are therefore crucial. Strange, obscure avenues and tactics must be employed to maintain the story line, which is also a party line. Perhaps most crucially, certain alliances must be maintained.

Enter the Reader’s Maya Dukmasova, a “reporter”whose every punctuation mark oozes an unbridled antipathy to the police. Dukmasova has demonstrated a willingness to vilify the police at all costs, even though this second-generation myth maker lacks the writing skills and sophistication of her predecessors.

Time and again, Dukmasova’s outbursts reveal her true bias. After Chicago police held a rally in Chicago opposing Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx in 2019, for example, Dukmasova chimed in on social media that the Chicago police union “proudly endorses white supremacists.” Attorneys for the police union demanded an apology, but Dukmasova only deleted the post.

Last week, though, Dukmasova outdid even herself in an article about the debate to keep police officers in Chicago public schools. In an article that generated more eye-rolling than a Kimberly Foxx press conference on Jussie Smollett, Dukmasova railed against a vote by school officials to retain Chicago Police School Resource Officers (SROs) in most schools. One troubling fact for Dukmasova was an online survey offered by school officials that found a majority of those who took it approved of having Chicago police officers in schools.

From Dukmasova's column:

“Naturally,the Reader was curious about the survey methodology and results,especially as student-led protests against cops in schools were galvanizing huge crowds across the city. How was the survey distributed? How could the district be sure that it was representative of the schools with SROs? Were measures taken to make sure no one took the survey more than once? Could we know for sure that it was really students taking the survey and not, say, their parents or random people on the Internet claiming to be students?”

“Curious about the methodology and results?” In Chicago journalism doublespeak, this means: “Because this survey contradicts our party line, we must discredit it, and it’s got nothing to do with curiosity.”

After all, having spent so much time attacking the police in every venue, Dukmasova and her Reader cannot be compelled to accept the notion that, despite their relentless war on the cops, most people still want the police around, even the public educators.

So what did the Reader do? They filed a lawsuit to find out how the school officials conducted the survey,as part of their “curiosity.”

Here is where the real bombshell emerges, a bombshell that reveals once again that Chicago’s central problem is not police corruption, but the lack of an independent media in the city.  

In a tweet, Dukmasova gave thanks to the “civil rights” law firm Loevy & Loevy for helping the Reader file the lawsuit. Here’s what that tweet means: A media outlet notorious for three decades of anti-police narratives is getting help from the law firm that has specialized in filing lawsuits against the police based on those narratives. Loevy & Loevy has perhaps garnered more money from lawsuits against the police than any other firm in the city. The fact that a media outlet would team with a law firm like Loevy is in and of itself a clear crossing of lines in journalism protocol.

But what makes the fact that the Reader is now working with Loevy even more ominous and despicable is the fact that Loevy cases are under fire in the federal courts, with one allegation after another from city attorneys that the cases they are bringing forward against detectives are completely false.

Is it any wonder, then, that the Reader, and Dukmasova in particular, refuse to address these allegations, refuse to even mention them in any of their articles? Is the connection between the Reader and the civil rights law firms that sue the police so strong that the Chicago media will not write one story addressing the allegations in a federal courtroom that at least some of these claims against cops are false?

For the Reader and Dukmasova, it seems so. And is the anti-police bias so intense in Chicago that even a survey by public school officials indicating that a majority still want the police in schools must be attacked? Again, it seems so.

And what about the rest of the journalism community in Chicago? Is there any other media outlet pointing to the clear conflict of interest in the Reader working with Loevy? Forget about it.

The breakdown of the Chicago media and their success in transforming their institution into an agent of apolitical ideology empowers and turns journalists with otherwise mediocre talent and little real investigative skill into powerful players in the city.

It also undermines a key force in the city necessary to maintain its justice system: An independent media.

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