03/03/2024

More Hypocrisy and Bias...

Bad Journalism on display from Tribune reporter covering Donald Trump Jr. event in Addison

Opinion from RICH ROSTRON
The Response
10/30/2023

Photo Courtesy of Mark Vargas, Illinois Review Donald Trump Jr. conducts a press conference with the media at the event in Addison Friday. Chicago Tribune reporter Rick Pearson is at right holding his phone out to record the president's son's answers. Pearson's dislike for Donald Trump Jr. was palpable in Pearson's tone of voice and borne out in his coverage of the event.
Shortly after I arrived at the McHenry County GOPac event in Addison featuring Donald Trump Jr. Friday, I came upon an ABC Channel 7 reporter and cameraman, and Chicago Tribune reporter Rick Pearson interviewing former Illinois Gubernatorial and current 12th Congressional District candidate Darren Bailey. What I noticed, particularly from Pearson, was what I can only describe as an aggressive and unprofessional animosity.

It's okay for reporters to ask tough questions. In fact, any reporter worth the title will do so. But, as professionals, their personal feelings should not enter into the equation. It was not hard to see that Pearson didn’t like Bailey or Donald Trump Jr. And his coverage of the event, in the Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023, edition of The Tribune bore that out loud and clear.

Pearson has served as The Tribune’s chief political reporter since he joined the paper in 1998. He also hosts a Sunday-morning political talk show on WGN radio and television. He certainly has the credentials (I remember how, as a free-lance reporter for The Tribune for five years until about the time Pearson joined the publication, that people were impressed when I was working on a story and said, “I’m with The Tribune.”)

While I can respect someone’s credentials, I’ve learned not to respect people who rely on their credentials, as though merely waving them, flaglike, overrides any disagreement. I also have a shortage of respect for the blatantly hypocritical. Unfortunately, that is how I found Pearson – hypocritical.

After watching Pearson interview Bailey, and then Donald Trump Jr., I thought I would ask Pearson a question or two.

I approached him immediately after the conclusion of the Donald Trump Jr. press conference. Pearson had asked Donald Trump Jr why he would come to Illinois when his father was “repudiated in the last two presidential elections. I asked Pearson what he thought of the former president’s son’s answer (Donald Trump Jr. suggested that, considering the state of affairs under Biden, we might see a different outcome in 2024. He also pointed out that there are still Congressional races to support).

Pearson responded, “That’s a nice answer coming from a politician.”

When I pressed him further, Pearson growled that the former president and his son don’t like the truth.

“You mean, like Russian Collusion?” I asked, pointing to the two-and-a-half years that the Trump administration was persecuted over false charges that originated with his opponent, Hillary Clinton and her campaign.

That was all it took. Pearson snarled, “I’m not getting into that fracas right now” and he stormed away from me.

Donald Trump Jr. had the courage to come out and meet the press knowing that these ‘so-called’ reporters were not friendly to him or his father. Bailey stood fast and took the hardest questions the media could hit him with. In both cases, Pearson was among those ‘so-called’ journalists who asked questions like snakes spitting venom.

As with a majority of the media today, his approach was schizophrenic. Take a look at the headlines from the last dozen-or-so articles Pearson has written. If The Tribune’s policy is the same today as it was when I freelanced with the paper, Pearson doesn’t write the headline. But the headlines are written to embody a sense of what the reader will find in the story.

The reality is that ‘so-called’ journalists today are polite, friendly and accommodating when interviewing someone on the Left but they transform into attack dogs when interviewing someone on the Right. In the case of Donald Trump, his son, and anyone who dares to support them, ‘so-called’ journalists, such as Pearson, aren’t just attack dogs; they’re rabid attack dogs.

Every line of Pearson’s Oct. 28 Tribune article looks at Trump, his son and Bailey in the worst possible light. What kind of even-handed coverage does Pearson deserve? As far as I’m concerned, I’ve given him a far better shake here than he gave to anyone he wrote about from the event in Addison Friday, and far more than he deserves.