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Chicago's Legendary News Anchor Walter Jacobson Calls Out Paper's on Broadway Bank Reporting

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Recently, longtime Chicago television anchor Walter Jacobson called out the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times for attempting to create controversy and mixing editorial positions as news in the Illinois Senate Race.

Jacobson's observation stems from the papers' repeat reporting on loans made by Broadway Bank, the Giannoulias family bank, to Michael Giorango and Demitri Stavropoulos, both of whom had been convicted for involvement in bookmaking and prostitution.

The story first ran in 2006 when Alexi Giannoulias ran for state treasurer. It had quieted after Giannoulias' statewide victory, but was revived by the papers for the Senate campaign with no new developments reported, but only speculation about whether or not Giannoulias had adequately answered questions about the matter. This past February, the Sun-Times acknowledged that Giannoulias had answered the questions, but continued to publish stories with the spin that Giannoulias was trying to change the focus of the race.

Buzz on the story had again quieted by mid-March, but the Chicago Tribune renewed discussion with this April 1, 2010 story run as a March Rasmussen poll showed Mark Kirk was losing support after having first pledged to lead the effort to repeal health care reform and then backtracked.

The Tribune story featured a quote from former Texas Banking Commissioner Catherine Ghiglieri who incorrectly insinuated that banks are required to do criminal background checks on potential borrowers. Almost instantly, a later Rasmussen poll showed that the race had reversed course, showing Kirk back on top.

Huffington Post blogger Matt Farmer, a supporter of Giannoulias' primary opponent, David Hoffman, called on Giannoulias to step down from the race. The call was taken up in the comments by another Hoffman supporter. As a local blogger, I have also received several notes from Hoffman supporters making the same demand and promoting Hoffman as the replacement.

In a similar convenient piece of reporting for the Kirk campaign, late last month, AP, Reuters and the Tribune ran a story claiming that small businesses were going to be less profitable with the passage of the Health Care Reform Bill. This story coincided with Kirk's initial pledge to lead the fight for repeal. Local blogger, Carl Nyberg noted that the only small business source for the story was Illinois Tool Works Inc., a company owned and run by contributors to various Kirk and other Republican candidate campaigns over the years.