Chicago media: Jesse Jackson Jr. 'still has a lot of potential' (VIDEO)

In another show of bias, these members of the Chicago media elite are already discussing Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s political comeback. Photo: AP

CHICAGO,  November 23, 2012 — Jesse Jackson, Jr., is the number one son of Chicago’s political ruling elite. Being part of the political ruling elite is all that matters.

In the Chicago caste system, the worst sin you can commit isn’t being corrupt; it’s being working or middle class and politically powerless.

Or a Republican. 

Classism is acceptable - even fashionable - as a form of bigotry and discrimination; never mind the outcries of outrage against Mitt Romney and the rest of his 1 percent during Election 2012. That was just political expediency.

The Chicago Way’s unspoken rule is, “You are either in or you are out.”

This explains Chicago media’s stunning reaction to the resignation of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. earlier this week.  

Veteran political reporter Carol Marin, Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington, and Madeleine Doubek, CEO of Reboot Illinois, which is funded by Anne Griffin, a top donor to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, joined news anchor Phil Ponce of PBS-owned ‘Chicago Tonight’ to offer their reactions. 

For the full interview, visit here.

In the interview, Marin and Washington acknowledge that they have been aware of Jackson’s mental issues for some time.

So why didn’t they report on it when Jackson first announced a leave of absence five months ago?

The media panel’s puzzling explanations ranged from almost tearfully blaming the stress of Jackson family expectations, the “shadow and intense pressure of the federal probe,” and Jackson Sr. himself for his son’s “illness” to rather premature speculations about the now former congressman’s political comeback.

So here’s the current spin: Jackson, the heir to the Jackson Chicago political dynasty, collapsed under the weight of family expectation and the disappointment of not being the first black President of the United States.

Add to that the federal probe into his finances, and as Washington remarked, “coming from that very, very high place, no wonder he’s ill.”

Shadow and intense pressure of the federal probe? No wonder he’s ill? Are they serious?

“Is he [Jackson] washed up? I wouldn’t knock him out by any means,” said Washington about Jackson’s future in politics. “Once he gets his illness under control and comes forward and talks about it, I think it would be very helpful, particularly to the African American community which has trouble talking about mental illness. I can see him reviving his political career at some point – he still has a lot of potential.”

Of course, one would think that any further “potential” would be determined by the results of the current federal probe into Jackson’s alleged misuse of federal campaign funds and any resulting plea deal he makes with the feds.

But in the upside down world of Illinois politics, only certain people are politically penalized for ethical lapses or federal indictments leading to criminal convictions.

For example, former Black Panther Defense Minister-turned-congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) has a long history of failing to pay his federal income taxes, his property taxes, and his back child support. What is Chicago media’s response to any new infraction?

Bury it on page 14 of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Would their reaction have been the same if a conservative Republican congressman had offered his resignation? Probably not. 

Media bias is nothing new in Chicago and their pecular model of journalism has now been exported nationally. 

So one can only say, get used to it. 

In the case of Jesse Jackson Jr., the resignation letter isn’t even cold from the printer yet and the Chicago media are already in the middle of conducting his apology tour and plotting his political comeback.


For your amusement, here are excerpts from from a transcript of the taxpayer-funded program: 

MARIN: To your question about what kind of congressmen he was. Going back to the year 2000 when I was working for CBS, we did a long 60 minute piece on him and I reminded myself Ford Heights had brown water coming out of its water mains. Jesse Jackson Jr. fought for a new water system. He said and said again I don’t want prisons in my district. I don’t want little tiny welfare projects. I want businesses. I want community centers. I want opportunity. I want transportation centers and to a significant degree he did a lot of that. He was issue-involved, he was present in Congress, and he was an advocate for his district. 

PONCE: Let’s talk about the promise that he once projected and the level of expectations. Madeline, coming from a prominent family like that has its benefits but also has its burdens.

DOUBEK: Absolutely [Jackson’s life] has its burdens and that is clearly what he has suffered or at least put forward today. He thought he could work through this illness – bipolar depression. It’s no longer possible. There are a whole lot of people out there who think this doesn’t exist. That it’s not real. There is certainly evidence to suggest that the gastro-intestinal surgery he went through does has some ties to that mental illness. So rightly or wrongly people are out there talking about that, suggesting that this whole thing was an excuse.  That this federal investigation is what really pushed this thing and people will make up their own minds.

PONCE: Is there any doubt on the panel that he is suffering from bi-polar disorder?

MARIN: Not on my part. And those of us who have been around him for a long time understood that he did have some very significant mood swings.

PONCE: You observed that?

MARIN: Absolutely

WASHINGTON: Up and down.

MARIN: Up and down. The other part and to what Madeleine is saying is when you are Jesse Jackson Jr.’s son and going back to 1984 and Quitman County, MS, when Jackson Sr. was running for president the first time, Jesse Jr. and his brother were bodyguarding their dad because they were looking for the gun that was coming to shoot him. They have spent their childhoods in the shadow of Jesse Sr., sometimes I think neglected by Jesse Sr. Jesse Jr. would say that – my mother came to my games, my dad didn’t. I think there was a lot to balance in this family as there are in lots of our families. And not just balance but the pressure of expectation because at one time his father talked about his as a potential presidential candidate. He did and said it pretty imperiously. I can see him in the governor’s office, I can see him in the U.S. Senate, and I can see him with the White House in mind.

WASHINGTON: Flash forward to 2008, the Blagojevich investigation, coming under that shadow and being under intense pressure by the feds for the last four years, having come from that very, very high place, no wonder he’s ill.

PONCE: His mother even said he has been suffering from the disappointment of not having been a mayor or a senator. Most people would hear that and think that’s preposterous. Yet in that family it was not preposterous.

MARIN: And look at Rod Blagojevich who was miserable because he was just in the second term of being governor of one of the largest states in the country. There is some sort of craziness in all that. But the other part is the worst thing that ever happened to Jesse Jackson Jr. was Barack Obama. Because all of a sudden someone that nobody knew went right up the fast lane past him. Shortly after that he had the gastrointestinal surgery, he lost a lot of weight, he supported Barack Obama’s presidential bid but he saw himself eclipsed and then all of a sudden he who thought he might be the first black president of the United States was not going to be.

PONCE: I understand Barack Obama was a volunteer in Jackson’s first congressional campaign – how about that?

MARIN: How about that.

PONCE: Let’s talk about Jesse Jackson Jr.’s political future? Right now it looks like it’s pretty much all washed up.

WASHINGTON: Is he washed up? I wouldn’t knock him out by any means. Once he gets his illness under control and comes forward and talk about it – I think it would be very helpful – particularly to the African American community, which has trouble talking about mental illness. I can see him reviving his political career at some point – he still has a lot of potential.

PONCE: This district has a checkered history. You look at the past occupants of that seat and again it is not a good track record.

DOUBEK: It’s stunning. Mel Reynolds, who was convicted of an underage affair with a teenager – a 16 year-old woman – and before that there was Gus Savage who was also a lightening rod, very controversial. A lot of people considered him to be anti-Semitic and now this – it’s quite a history in that seat but unfortunately we’ve faced a lot of that in Illinois in over the past 10-20 years. But not just in that district but obviously with two governors in prison and all the assorted people around them, making their deals with the feds and figuring things out – we can’t seem to ever get past the corruption and do things in an honest and transparent way.

PONCE: Let’s talk about some of the people waiting in the wings who might throw their hat in the ring – Carol?

MARIN: Well to Doubek’s point again – one of those people is Mel Reynolds who went to prison who is thinking about it. Talk about rehabilitation. It’s Illinois who put Jesse Jackson back in office. Derek Smith who was indicted and thrown out of the house is there so Anthony Beale, Sandi Jackson, who is an alderman. You can do the whole Jackson family – Yuself, Jonathan, Jackie, Sanita – mainly Jonathan is the one being touted.

PONCE: Is Sandi Jackson really realistic?

WASHINGTON: Oh absolutely – she’s got the royal family name and unless she’s indicted or implicated in some serious legal charges – she’s very popular in her ward and of course she has very high name recognition and those are going to be very important elements because this is going to be a very short turn-around race.

MARIN: She will be a much more sympathetic character because of all this.


William J. Kelly is an Emmy award-winning TV producer and conservative columnist. He is also a contributor to the American Spectator and He is a native from Chicago’s Southside.

Email questions to him at Find him on Facebook/Williamjpkelly 

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William Kelly


Conservative commentator, satirist, and radio talk show host William J. Kelly pens the “Kelly Truth Squad” and “The Tea Party Report” for the Washington Times Communities and is a contributor to the American Spectator and Kelly is also a producer of Emmy award-winning TV and received an Emmy nomination himself for outstanding achievement on-camera. He was previously the Executive Director of the National Taxpayers United of Illinois, a taxpayer watchdog group. He is a native of Chicago’s South side. For more information, visit

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