Local stations right in the thick of it
[Editor’s Note: This is a new version of a story posted earlier Monday.]
Just like on Survivor when an unsuspecting contestant is blindsided at Tribal Council, Chicagoans were caught off-guard after a night of looting and vandalism in downtown Chicago and River North areas early Monday morning, and some of the mayhem was even caught live on camera.
This is the second time looting happened downtown and River North in a little over two months. On May 30 and May 31, looters struck those same areas after protests over the killing of George Floyd devolved into violence.
The mayhem started just after midnight as packs of looters ravaged areas of high-end shops on Michigan Avenue and stores on State Street, breaking glass and causing millions of dollars worth of damage. Walgreens and CVS drug stores were also hard hit. The looting and vandalism seems to be coordinated on social media, possibly in response to misinformation about a police-involved shooting in Englewood Sunday afternoon where a 20-year old man was shot by police.
Looting and vandalism also were reported in Lincoln Park and Near North areas. Scattered looting took place on the West and South Sides, though not to the extent it took place on May 31 and June 1.
By the time ABC 7 (WLS-TV), WGN-TV, and Fox 32 (WFLD) signed on to do their regular newscasts at 4 a.m. Monday, looting and vandalism continued – in some cases, even taking place live on the air. ABC 7’s Jessica D’Onforio and a camera crew caught looters breaking into a Potbelly’s next door to the station, a Macy’s store on State Street, and also captured the sounds of gunfire taking place a block away as Chicago Police and a looting suspect exchanged gunfire at Michigan and Lake, near Fox 32’s station headquarters.
Stations also had to deal with people crashing live shots and swearing, which occurred numerous times.
Local TV stations stayed in coverage until about 1 p.m. , pre-empting several network and syndicated shows. Local radio stations such as WBBM-AM and WGN Radio also had non-stop coverage.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot gave a truncated update on the unrest a little after 8 a.m. – with just one press pool reporter. Mayor Lightfoot berated him after asking a question, saying it was “bait”. For a person who hates President Trump so much, she seems to take after him. The best part of the television coverage was when NBC 5’s (WMAQ) Mary Ann Ahern called out city leaders for their lack of leadership, which everyone seems to agree on.
There wasn’t much national coverage on CNN or MSNBC as they stuck with politics and Covid, although ABC did had a Nightline segment on the looting. But coverage is all over Fox News had the Fraternal Order of Police union head appearing on one of their prime-time shows and a local alderman appearing on Fox & Friends morning show Tuesday. During coverage of a Chicago funeral shooting last month, the network drew 4.1 million viewers in prime-time.
There was also some questionable judgement by the local news media on why they aired (and/or printed) a really idiotic sound bite of a woman from the Black Lives Matter moment at a rally calling for the looters’ release, condoning what happened earlier in the day, basically encouraging more looting and vandalism. It was completely irresponsible and news directors and editors should’ve known better.
Even though reports of looting dropped considerably from 24 hours ago, the downtown area is still under curfew until further notice from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. A huge storm swept through the city Monday afternoon, leaving plenty of damage as a confirmed tornado touched down on the North Side’s Rogers Park neighborhood.
Given what’s going on in Lebanon, the term “Beirut on The Lake” – an old slogan referring to Council Wars in the 1980s, is more truer now than it has ever been.