NBC 5, WVON partner for mayoral forum targeting Black community

Tired of all these mayoral forums yet? There are more to come.

If you watch Survivor, then you know about Tribal Council, where the strategies and backstabbing come out in full play.

The Chicago mayoral forums have been like Tribal Councils every single night with insults, personal attacks, and language that makes the last few Survivor seasons look peaceful by comparison.

Even Jeff Probst wouldn’t be able to handle this crowd.

So it’s up to Chicago’s news anchors to handle the dirty work instead, at the fraction of the salary Probst gets. And like hidden immunity idols, the forums just keep on coming.

The latest forum was announced Tuesday as all nine Chicago mayoral candidates agreed to participate in one scheduled for February 13, with NBC 5 (NBC-owned WMAQ) partnering with WVON, the Chicago Urban League, NABJ Chicago, and the Business Leadership Council from 6 to 8 p.m., with an emphasis on Chicago’s Black community, who live mainly on the South and West Sides – areas of the city impacted most by gun violence and other crime. 

The forum however, won’t air on NBC 5’s linear channel but streamed on their NBC Chicago News Channel – available through Peacock, Roku, Samsung Plus TV, Xumo, and the station’s website. Of course, WVON will also carry the forum. 

This is on top of mayoral forums held by other media outlets in the last few weeks including ABC 7, WGN-TV, Chicago Tribune, Crain’s, and Sun-Times/WBEZ. The forums have turned quite nasty at times, with incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot attacking her opponents and even the candidates taking pot shots at one another (Willie Wilson – the one who gives away free gas – perhaps had the line of the campaign so far responding to rival Jamal Green with the line “I don’t respond to kids”, a reality-TV inspired quote if there was one.) The forum was so volatile, you’d expect Mayor Lightfoot to break out Susan Hawk’s “The Snake And The Rat” speech on one of her opponents. 

The crowd at these forums have also been unruly at times, with protestors interrupting. 

And there’s more of these to come. WTTW held a mayoral forum Tuesday night and Fox 32 (WFLD-TV) has one scheduled for Thursday night. Waiting in the wings is CBS 2, who has yet to announce their plans for a mayoral forum as the municipal election is February 28. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, then the top two candidates will face-off in a runoff election in April which comes with…you guessed it – more forums. So in other words, seven candidates – or eight could be voted off Chicago Mayoral Island. 

Back in 2019, this space spoke about the unnecessarily high number of televised mayoral forums and how they do not benefit voters. Given what we’ve seen so far, these candidates are already sick of one another as discussing these vital issues are lost in the sniping and name-calling. But it makes for “great entertainment” and for ratings, though you can imagine the numbers for these freakshows aren’t very high. 

In other words, these mayoral forums are no different than an episode of Real Housewives – with Mayor Lightfoot assuming the role of the illegitimate 1993 Miss USA winner on the Atlanta edition, of course.  

One candidate summed it up perfectly during Tuesday night’s WTTW debate: “This is exactly what the people of Chicago don’t want: people up here bickering. They want to hear our solutions to the problems. They want us to solve the safety issues, to have better schools. … We have to stop this nonsense.” said 4th Ward Alderman Sophia King.  In other words, start acting like adults who need to tackle the city’s problems and stop acting like America’s Next Top Model rejects. 

But I’m sure the local media doesn’t mind. 

The tribe has spoken. 

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