A Former Chicagoan Remembers The Former Chicago Tribune
December 28, 2004, 04:00 AM
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December 28, 2004

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We Misjudged Rex May—but Not NR

Paul Nachman writes from California:

Re:   Christmas "wedge issue in the country`s culture wars"—Chicago Tribune (which hates it!)

The Tribune`s metamorphosis is striking for a native (though no longer resident) Chicagoan.

During the 1950s, my dad explained the paper`s politics to this grade-schooler by saying the Trib didn`t like President Eisenhower "because he`s not Republican enough."

During the 1960s, I was sufficiently sentient to notice that the Trib, besides billing itself, below its nameplate, as the "World`s Greatest Newspaper" (incidentally, the origin of the call letters of its owned TV station, WGN), ran a photo of the "Flag of the Day." This was a different American flag, flying somewhere around the Chicago area, every day.

A brief history of the paper backs up my youthful impressions. It says that the Tribune "was noted for the vigor of its anticommunism and attacks on the New Deal, surpassing even the Hearst papers in virulence."

But by the mid-1970s, the paper actually had one liberal editorial writer, whom I lobbied to write an editorial backing full wilderness protection for Minnesota`s Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Given the Tribune`s flinty conservative reputation, the published piece created somewhat of a sensation during hearings about the relevant legislation before the House Interior Committee.

In the intervening years, Tribune managers have apparently managed to completely exorcise the ghost of Col. Robert McCormick, the Trib`s arch-conservative owner for the second quarter of the 20th Century.

Dave Gorak is right: the once fierce Trib is now as goo-goo over the grievances-industrial complex as the politically-correct rags (LA Times, Newsday) it`s bought in recent years.