I was gonna take today off, but I couldn’t pass this one up!
As part of our digital Chicago Tribune subscription, I generally peruse the Beacon-News – for all of the six seconds that effort takes – but I always skip Denise Crosby’s column because, though she’s certainly a reasonable writer, it’s never worth reading.
Despite being paid far more than the reporters who do the real work, if a column requires anything beyond a phone call or if it interferes with her afternoon nap, she won’t do it.
But this morning’s headline, “McMahon taking on Van Dyke trial challenge,” caught my eye because Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan has slapped a gag order on anyone even tangentially involved with that impending trial.
And Judge Gaughan has made it abundantly clear he means business!
For background purposes, Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon was appointed to prosecute Andy Van Dyke, the former Chicago Police officer who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times.
“So, how could Crosby possibly write an article in which the principal subject was barred from making any commentary,” I thought, “Perhaps she had an anonymous source.” And then I made the mistake of actually reading the piece.
Believe it or not, Crosby had the cojones to write it in a “this is what McMahon must be thinking about the trial” format such that she comes across as a sixteen-year-old girl who has a massive crush on her English teacher. I can only imagine her laying on her bed writing, “I wonder what he’s doing right now?” as she clasps the open diary to her heart.
Put more simply, it’s beyond bad journalism.
To be fair, Crosby did reach out to former Kane County State’s Attorney Gary Johnson, one of few local attorneys with merit, but he could only offer pointless platitudes because even accidentally aggravating McMahon or making it appear like he knows things he shouldn’t wouldn’t bode well for his law practice.
And because she didn’t have a source, Crosby virtually got it all wrong. So, in an effort to set the record straight, let’s make those necessary corrections now. After all, I am nothing if not magnanimous when it comes to my fellow journalists! Crosby said:
1. McMahon took the case because no one else wanted it
That’s patently false! Joe McMahon asked for the special prosecutor position because he thought the Van Dyke case would launch him into the legal stratosphere.
2. McMahon is “chomping at the bit” to get going
Wrong again! Failing to heed the plethora of legal folks who warned him that this case was a no-win proposition, McMahon quietly sought to absolve himself of it to no avail.
3. “McMahon likely saw it as his duty to agree to handle the case”
Nope! See number one.
4. McMahon “mulled over” the pros and cons before taking the case
No! he did not! All he considered was the level of media attention he’d receive for prosecuting Van Dyke, never considering the potential fallout for a nanosecond.
If he wins, his relationship with law enforcement officers everywhere will never be the same. And if he loses, all those frothing-at-the-mouth Chicago activists will demand his severed head on a silver platter. To put it in perspective, this one is exponentially worse than your wife asking you if those pants make her butt look big.
Not to mention the effect it’s had on his office:
- McMahon was already an absentee boss and now he’s never there.
- Things have gotten so bad under Joe Lulves, Jody Gleason and Joe Cullen that a newly former employee told me, “That office sucks the soul right out of you.”
- In an effort to ferret out my source(s), a prosecutor verbally accosted a number of her peers which is always great for office morale!
- As a result of that low morale, KCSAO staff turnover is so bad that local attorneys can’t keep track of who the prosecutors are anymore.
- Without adequate supervision, his underlings are far more interested in racking up convictions than serving justice.
- Because McMahon wasn’t paying attention, the KCSAO lost a $100,000 grant that forced them to disband their Victim’s Rights Unit.
- At a time when McMahon’s been begging the County Board for more attorneys, at least 20 Kane County prosecutors are working on the Van Dyke case.
So, Ms. Crosby can polish this turd all she wants, but it won’t change the fact that she’s a lazy journalist and Joe McMahon made a major mistake which revealed he has no intention of serving the people who put him in office.
But while there’s no hope for our State’s Attorney, considering today’s column, perhaps Ms. Crosby has finally found her true calling. She could resort to writing cheesy romance novels.