Anti-NATO activists face the brunt of the Tribune's op-ed pages, just as media policy activists have done

Posted by Mitchell - March 15, 2014 (entry 707)

On February 10, 2014, the Chicago Tribune published an op-ed headlined "NATO 3 belong in prison", referring to three Florida activists who faced terrorism charges for reputedly planning to attack the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago. The trial of the NATO 3 concluded days before the publication of this op-ed, and the NATO 3 were found not guilty of terrorism. Even so, the NATO 3 -- who were entrapped by two undercover police officers amid a climate of widespread regulatory and physical intimidation -- were found guilty on mob action and incendiary device charges, and face up to 30 years in prison.

Activists who were involved with the anti-NATO efforts in Chicago responded back to the Tribune with an op-ed of their own. Chicago grassroots activists criticized the Tribune op-ed for its factual inaccuracies, for its double-standard on public funding of pursuing the NATO 3 (while criticizing the use of public funds for education and mental health facilities), and for its ignoring important and relevant facts -- such as the presence of the agents provocateur and the refusal by the sitting judge to reject hearing any First Amendment-related arguments during the trial.

The Tribune refused to publish the activists' op-ed response, much to the stern objection of the NATO activists. It's a tune that members of Chicago Media Action are all-too familiar with. The Tribune has published op-ed after op-ed making its case for horrible media policies that increase media concentration, give the public the shaft, and line the pockets of Tribune owners and investors. Activists and citizens, including those from CMA, submit response after response, only to face the cold shoulder from the Tribune and are forced to reach (a much smaller sliver of) the public by other means.

Indeed, freedom of the press is guaranteed to those who own one, according to A.J. Leibling's famous quote. But if there's any consolation it's that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice (which comes from another famous quote). The Tribune's op-eds now smell like month-old fish, the public hates media concentration (and has grown increasingly active over it), plus activists blocked the policies the Tribune wanted resulting in (among other things) the cleaving of the Tribune Corporation. The shame on the Tribune regarding the NATO 3 case will be a self-evident point in the future, just like we now regard the Tribune's treatment of the Haymarket 8 (which included an attempted juror buyoff).

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