Trib's ChicagoNow hosts cop's racist rant three days and counting
The Chicago Tribune's community blogging product, ChicagoNow, has hosted a hate-filled, racist rant by blogger Joe the Cop entitled "The ghetto shooting template" for three days and counting now. Joe lacks the guts to blog under his real name and is identified as "a detective sergeant in a suburban police department"--so he's clearly qualified to comment on inner-city policing matters.
In his race-baiting post and its equally offensive follow-up, "Joe" mocks both George Lash, 19, who was recently shot and killed by Chicago police on the Red Line, and Lash's grieving family. This horribly insensitive post, mind you, came before any investigative conclusions about this case had been reached. And he employs the late Mr. Lash (I'm sure "Joe" will be outraged that I dignified the teen's humanity by calling him Mr., given his statements about how the media coddles these annoying dead ghetto kids) as a rhetorical device for knee-jerk negative stereotyping of every "ghetto" teen killed by the cops.
Here's "Joe"'s kicker, and by kicker, I mean kick in the teeth to every reasonable citizen of this city:
"The harsh reality is, George Lash will be a better provider for his family as the subject of a civil lawsuit than he was ever going to be in his adult life."
I guess gutless "Joe" can't help being such a hateful hump, but you know what, ChicagoNow and its parent, the Chicago Tribune, have editors. I understand that bloggers can get a post up without editing oversight; I have been a paid blogger under exactly those circumstances. But to let this guy's hateful bile ooze through ChicagoNow's servers for three full days? Unconscionable.
As I asked the ChicagoNow folks on Twitter, What the hell are you thinking?
Second question: What the hell are you going to do about this blogger going forward?
I hope they don't take another three days to respond.
(Thanks to Audarshia of 312 Dining Diva for pointing this out.)
UPDATE, 6:25pm: Nearly three hours after promising a quick response, Tribune higher-ups removed the offensive posts and gave the public a response that fails to address basic questions:
What does it take to lose blogging privileges on ChicagoNow? Does saying a young man is worth more dead than alive because he's from the ghetto and has been in trouble not rise to that level? If not, why not?
What changes, if any, will be made in ChicagoNow's editorial oversight to ensure that posts violating the network's standards, and basic standards of decency, don't remain up for days?
If, incredibly, ChicagoNow decides to stand behind this racist blogger--remember, that human being who was killed last week is worth more dead than alive--what changes will they make to the oversight of his blog?
As it stands, it appears that the Chicago Tribune is fine with continuing to host bloggers on its site who proclaim that if you're a black teen from a poor neighborhood with a criminal record, you are worth more dead than alive.
Incredibly, Trib digital veep Bill Adee, writer of the tepid response, offers offended readers no apology, but does manage to praise Joe the Cop.
Update 2, 12:22am:
In Bill Adee's less-than-forthcoming explanation of why ChicagoNow removed two of "Joe" the Cop's racist posts, he writes the following:
"We have removed two posts by Joe the Cop about a recent shooting on the Red Line because we felt they didn't meet our blogger guidelines."
"As we say in our community guidelines, we don't edit blog posts before they are published, but we do reserve the right to remove posts."
The clear impression here, especially if you've been following this saga all afternoon, is that ChicagoNow removed the posts when I, among others, brought them to the site's attention. That impression is disingenuous at best. As a commenter on Adee's post notes:
"I am also confused, mostly because the posts were promoted by CN via Facebook."
Well, well. A check of ChicagoNow's Facebook page shows that the site was promoting "Joe" the Cop's racist posts as late as around 10am Thursday morning--just about four hours before Audarshia raised a red flag about the posts and I started trying to get the Tribune to do the right thing.
So not only was ChicagoNow fully aware of these racist posts, the first of which was online for three days, the network actually promoted them to readers on Facebook.
It's only when a protest erupts that they decide to do the right thing? Bill Adee needs to come clean about what happened here and answer the questions raised above. If he doesn't, he further tarnishes the ethical reputation of the Chicago Tribune and ensures that these types of incidents--borne from lax editorial oversight--will continue to occur.
And let's be absolutely clear about who Bill Adee praises in his bare bones post, which does not even explain in detail why "Joe" the Cop's posts were removed: This blogger is a racist bully holding a bullhorn given to him by the Chicago Tribune, which pays him for this work, and allows him to attack a dead teen behind the shield of anonymity it provides for this coward.
How about this for a new ChicagoNow slogan: Anonymous racist bloggers welcomed (just try not to be too obvious about it).