Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

How Rahm Retaliated Against Bad Press

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So much for the new-and-improved, "I'm not a bully," Rahm Emanuel.

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So much for the new-and-improved, "I'm not a bully," Rahm Emanuel. 

Since returning to Chicago to run for mayor, Emanuel has shied away from the public outbursts and vulgar language that famously earned him the nickname "Rahmbo."

But I've learned the new-and-improved Rahm has a way to punish the press when they report on stories he doesn't like.

He cuts off access. 
 
This week NBCChicago and Ward Room published details of the Emanuel Inauguration, which includes a plan to charge donors up to $50,000 for a premium seat at the swearing-in on May 16th. While noting that there will be  "free, open and accessible" events around the ceremony, our writers took him to task for being the first Chicago mayor to charge a fee of any sort for his inaugural.

The Emanuel team says that money will pay for the event and save the taxpayers.  

So the day after the "Mini White House Inaugural" was reported, the Emanuel team refused to notify NBC of rare one-on-one interviews allotted to our competitors.  The TV business is competitive, but typically politicians and public figures who are involved with big events grant the same access to all-comers.

When we asked why we were left out of the mix, the Emanuel communications team implied they weren't happy with the coverage of the VIP inauguration. They didn't challenge facts, but were upset with tone. So they left us out.  

It's an old game ... kill the messenger not the message; cut off the access.  

The story continued on Friday, when during a press conference about Chicago Public Schools changes, Emanuel abruptly left the podium before taking questions about his inaugural, nor would he comment on a report about incoming communications director Chris Mather, who has racked up nine personnel complaints during her time at the USDA (See the above video for the Emanuel reaction and how I tried to follow up him.)

Remember what outgoing Alderman Berny Stone said about preparing Emperor Emanuel? Which Rahm replied "My family says I don't look good in a toga."  

I have to agree.

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