On ancillary players, conspiracy theories, and why Rich Miller got it wrong

Oh lord! With a full month left to go before that final sprint to November begins, the ancillary players are already out full bloom.

Again, we’re talking about those self-important, but ultimately chicken-shit folks who, under the guise of anonymity, start the vicious rumors, break non-scandals, and generally act like idiots just to keep the political feuds alive.

Since they’ve never managed to accomplish absolutely anything, they want to make damn sure nobody else does either. Eleanor Roosevelt put it perfectly when she said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

And speaking of ideas, let’s get back to the whole efficacy of conspiracy theories thing because I was surprised to see Capitol Fax’s Rich Miller going for one whole hog last week. Maybe he’s been in Springfield too long.

I may not be his biggest fan, but despite the fact that he’s utterly besieged with those untidy folk, Miller clearly understands the inherent pitfalls of the ancillary players and generally does a decent job of ignoring their petulant white noise.

Of course, all it takes is covering the political process for a short time to discover that the people involved can barely make it to the bathroom in the morning, much less start pulling strings like some Wizard of Oz-esque puppeteer.

in fact, the only person who can pull that kind of thing off is Mike Madigan and it doesn’t require any investigative resources to discern this because he certainly ain’t shy about it.


Miller’s theory is that the Sun-Times (ST) is heavily covering the Better Government Association’s (BGA) legal thrust to render the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) susceptible to FOIAs for self-serving reasons. And even though it’s strange that the Tribune has been mum here, Miller’s reasoning for the logic behind those ST stories – which came from an anonymous Capitol Fax commenter – is suspect at best.

His convoluted concept postulates that ST owners Wrapports somehow stands to gain from a weakened IHSA because they also own a company called High School Cube which provides live high school Net sportscasts. Thus, in order to protect their position and prevent the IHSA from licensing those lucrative local broadcast rights, Wrapports just sicced the salivating stringers on ‘em.

Now you see why you should avoid ancillary players? They have this unique capacity to take any set of unrelated “facts” and somehow create a scenario that proves the only reason we can’t succeed in this miserable life is because the Illuminati are controlling everything. So it’s sad that Miller fell for this bleep when no one but an ancillary player could read that story out loud and take it seriously for more than about two seconds.

To his credit, Miller admitted there was something to the BGA’s attempt to require the IHSA to respond to FOIAs and it was newsworthy. No matter how much they try to deny it, the IHSA operates on taxpayer largesse, membership is not nearly as ”optional” as they make it out to be, and they can summarily stop your son from playing any high school sport anytime for any reason.

And they’re accountable to no one.

So my best guess is, with or without the ST coverage, the BGA will ultimately prevail. But how does that do anything other than require the IHSA to respond to FOIAs? I’m sure we’ll be aghast at some of those sponsorship deals, but how does having to answer FOIAs prevent the IHSA from locking up high school sports broadcast rights – especially if they remit a reasonable chunk of change back to the cash strapped school district?

But here’s the real bottom line. The Sun-Times can barely keep their collective nose above the water, much less make a slew of old school news bosses, middling managing editors, and barely passable novice reporters act in concert without one of them letting the cat out of the bag.

ST talent is fleeing to the Tribune faster than the Palestinians and Israelis can kill each other off, they still owe the Trib millions of dollars in back printing bills, and the only reason their satellite papers are still alive is it allows them to artificially spread costs around which makes the parent company appear more attractive to some sucker willing to buy into a sinking ship.

Why do you think their best columnist, Neil Steinberg, is suddenly pumping a ton of effort and energy into his own blog…?

So somehow, in the middle of this abject chaos, the Sun-Times suddenly has the presence of mind to extrapolate this IHSA BGA FOIA fight out to it’s illogical conclusion and actually conceive of and pull off a plan to help their parent company without any of the ex-employees spilling their guts?

The Trib couldn’t even keep their frat house shit silent!

That’s why conspiracy theories are just that – theories with only the minutest grain of truth behind them – and sometimes not even that.

So my advice to Mr. Miller would be to stop listening to the ancillary players because, just like it is with those HBO zombies, if you get too close to ‘em you’ll become one. Let’s hope Capitol Fax can do better in the future.

3 thoughts on “On ancillary players, conspiracy theories, and why Rich Miller got it wrong

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