Veteran Chicago political reporter Mary Ann Ahern is accusing recently elected mayor Rahm Emanuel of stonewalling members of the local media in retaliation for bad press.
“I’ve learned the new-and-improved Rahm has a way to punish the press when they report on stories he doesn’t like,” Ahern writes in a post on WMAQ‘s Ward Room political blog. “He cuts off access.”
In the above video, Ahern, who has been with WMAQ since 1989, can be seen chasing after Emanuel following a curt press conference on Friday, trying to get him to answer a question. “Is this how we have to talk to you,” Ahern asks him, “shouting down the hallway?”
The exchange occurred at the end of a week that included a contentious back-and-forth between WMAQ and Emanuel’s camp. On Tuesday, WMAQ posted details about Emanuel’s May inauguration, including the plan to charge donors up to $50,000 for a premium seat at the event.
Here’s Ahern on what happened following the report:
So the day after the “Mini White House Inaugural” was reported, the Emanuel team refused to notify NBC of rare one-on-one interviews allotted to our competitors. The TV business is competitive, but typically politicians and public figures who are involved with big events grant the same access to all-comers.
When we asked why we were left out of the mix, the Emanuel communications team implied they weren’t happy with the coverage of the VIP inauguration. They didn’t challenge facts, but were upset with tone. So they left us out.
It’s an old game … kill the messenger not the message; cut off the access.[h/t Robert Feder]