CHICAGO - The Chicago Sun-Times found itself at the center of a coverage controversy this weekend. The Rauner gubernatorial campaign, frustrated with a Sun-Times story about a 2011 lawsuit that was thrown out of court, lashed out at the messenger by pointing to one of the contributing reporter's personal life as an unrevealed conflict of interest.
Then the Sun-Times endorsed Rauner for governor over Democrat incumbent Pat Quinn, stirring attacks from the Quinn campaign about Rauner investing in the Sun-Times in the recent past.
Monday, the Sun-Times publisher and editor-in-chief defended the paper's actions:
...Just hours before publication of the story, the [Rauner] campaign attempted to get the paper to stop publication by raising an alleged conflict involving a reporter on the story, Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney, and his wife, Ann Liston, a partner in a firm that does consulting work for political clients.
As I told other media outlets over the weekend, the allegations leveled by the campaign were inaccurate and defamatory. We ran the story and continue to back it. And out of an abundance of caution, we did review the matter once again and are convinced Liston receives no financial benefit from any Illinois political campaign specifically because of the extraordinary steps she and McKinney have taken to establish business safeguards.
As I also told other media outlets, McKinney’s work in this campaign and in the more than two decades he has covered politics, including the stories he’s broken on the investigation involving Gov. Pat Quinn and the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, are consistent with the tough reporting he has done on both campaigns. As I also said over the weekend, both McKinney and Liston are conscientious, ethical and among the best at their professions. The Rauner campaign team had no problem citing our investigations into Gov. Quinn when it suited their strategy. And I assure you the governor’s camp was none too pleased at our investigations of the controversial grant program.
While the Rauner camp made false allegations against our reporter and his wife, the Quinn campaign tried to make the Sun-Times the story when we made the decision to return to endorsements. Because we backed Rauner, the governor’s campaign tried to make a connection to his former investment in Wrapports, LLC, the company that owns the Sun-Times.
The rest of the Sun-Times explanation is here. The controversy continues ...