Chicago Tribune Reporter Wishes for a Hurricane and Botches Her Apology

And you thought newspapers were hurting now?!

Meet Kristen McQueary.

She is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune who may have a problem with analogies–a condition revealed by a recent story in which she expressed her desire for the city of Chicago to get ravaged by its own version of Hurricane Katrina.

She argues that Katrina was a good thing for the Crescent City because it “gave a great American city a rebirth…” and “that’s what it took to hit the reset button in New Orleans. Chaos. Tragedy. Heartbreak.”


If you, dear reader, had been around for the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, you probably wouldn’t be writing a story about how the city needs another deadly blaze in order to hit the “reset button” in the heart of Daley Center.

McQueary, however, went there. Just in case you thought she was joking, there was this:

“That’s why I find myself praying for a real storm. It’s why I can relate, metaphorically, to the residents of New Orleans climbing onto their rooftops and begging for help and waving their arms and lurching toward rescue helicopters.”

Nearly 2,000 people died in that storm, and thousands more saw their homes, businesses, schools, and lives vanish as quickly as a sober thought on Bourbon Street.

The Internet very quickly let McQueary know what it thought of her piece, and she made a lackluster attempt to defend herself:

She then went further with a follow-up piece in which she argued that people really just need to get over her extremely offensive analogy.

“I wrote what I did not out of lack of empathy, or racism, but out of long-standing frustration with Chicago’s poorly managed finances. Many readers thought my premise — through my use of metaphor and hyperbole — was out of line. I certainly hear you. I am reading your tweets and emails. And I am horrified and sickened at how that column was read to mean I would be gunning for actual death and destruction.”

In other words, she regrets the fact that people interpreted her column incorrectly. Editor Sam R. Hall of the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger was thoroughly unimpressed, noting that her response did not include the crucial words “I’m sorry.” The public’s response was similar:

McQueary made a transparent attempt to get attention with a completely tone-deaf comparison and seemed surprised when her plan worked. She then failed to even acknowledge that she made a mistake in the first place.

This has been how NOT to make up for very poor choices.