WIND-AM’s Amy Jacobson lands in hot water with Governor

Protesters at a “Reopen Illinois” rally at the Thompson Center last week, with some carrying anti-Semitic signs. (Forbes)

Barred from daily press briefings, but can still submit questions

Another embarrassing moment for Chicago radio 

In a move many are criticizing, WIND-AM talk show co-host Amy Jacobson was removed from the press pool of the Governor’s daily coronavirus press briefings on Tuesday after she spoke at a “Reopen Illinois” rally in front of the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago Saturday. 

As first reported by Robert Feder Tuesday morning, the decision was made by Governor J. B. Pritzker’s press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh, pointing out the rally also contained Nazi imagery as many protesters held up signs mocking the governor, who is Jewish. Jacobson pointed this out on Twitter Saturday, saying the rhetoric had no place at the rally. 

Jacobson can still submit questions, but it would be up to reporters whether or not to accept them. 

Meant to protest Governor Pritzker’s stay-at-home orders keeping most businesses closed due to the pandemic, the Reopen Illinois rally was held in Chicago and another taking place in Springfield. Reopen Illinois was sponsored by a conservative PAC group based in southwest suburban Joliet and speakers included Illinois Republican President Tim Schneider and Erich “Mancow” Muller, who is on opposite Jacobson and co-host Dan Proft mornings on Cumulus’ WLS-AM. 

The rallies have become a rallying cry among many conservatives across the country – especially in states with Democrat governors including Illinois, California, New York, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The chasm comes as many rural and suburban municipalities have recorded a lower Covid-19 rate than many urban and more-populated areas.  There is also an added racial dimension, as the areas with the highest Covid-19 rates are in minority communities.

For example, the mostly-Hispanic community of Belmont Craigin on the Northwest Side had one of the highest rates, as does many zip codes on Chicago’s South and West sides, west suburban Maywood and Bellwood, and the south suburbs – home to most of the area’s African-American population. 

By comparison, mostly white communities in Kane, McHenry, Kendall, and DuPage counties have rates substantially lower as many political leaders are now also calling for Pritzker to re-open the state. The crowd at both rallies were predominately white. 

There were complaints by many in Chicago’s press corps about Jacobson’s decision to speak at the rally, given she’s a journalist and raises serious conflict of interest issues. But Salem-owned WIND management stood by Jacobson, questioning the way Pritzker takes, um… questions from the press. On her radio show with Proft, Jacobson criticized Pritzker for the way he handled the shutdown during the pandemic.  

This is not the first time Jacobson has been embroiled in a ethical controversy. In 2007, a photographer shot footage of Jacobson – then employed at NBC-owned WMAQ as a reporter- at a household who was the subject of a missing persons investigation in a bikini. The footage was sent CBS-owned WBBM-TV and shown on-air (I documented how all of this unfolded.) Jacobson was later dismissed by WMAQ, and landed in radio at WLS-AM and later at WIND. 

On Tuesday night, Jacobson fired back at her critics (like myself) in a tweet about “haters” bringing up the Stebic stuff from 13 years ago. 

The only reason me and others brought this up is not to be disrespectful to the Stebic family, but to point out a pattern of her violating ethic rules in journalism. For one thing, this woman is very lucky to still be employed in Chicago media as for we all know, if she were a woman of color pulling this, her career would have been over a long time ago. 

It also says a lot about her employer, who is basically one of the worst radio companies in America – famously known for letting former Rep. Joe Walsh keep his job after numerous controversial comments (he left the station last year for an ill-fated run against President Trump.) Certainly, WIND could have sent someone else. 

But this also says a lot how people like Jacobson and Mancow continue to hang around Chicago radio – management who hire them time and time again while diversity in local talk radio is lacking behind the scenes and on the air at the mercy of those who refuse learn their lessons from past mistakes. Seems appropriate their fanbase is a bunch of deranged lunatics starved for attention knowing their boy probably won’t win in November.

It’s beyond pathetic. 


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