Conversations with the morning paper | Bleader

Monday, August 15, 2011

Conversations with the morning paper

Posted By on 08.15.11 at 09:56 AM

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Notes on reading the Monday Tribune:

Page one's top story offers compelling evidence that most pedestrians are hit by cars where they cross the street. The report begins:

"About 80 percent of vehicle-pedestrian crashes in Chicago occur at intersections and commonly involve people crossing the street with the walk signal."

The alert reader asks himself, "What percentage of pedestrians crossing the street in Chicago cross at intersections with the walk signal?" The story doesn't say, but the reader guesses it's probably pretty high. And as jay-walkers usually have their wits about them, they often escape harm. A picky reader, therefore, might question whether news that most pedestrians are hit by cars where they cross the street is the day's most important news.

Deeper in the story, which is by transportation writer Jon Hilkevitch, cabdrivers catch it:

"Cabdrivers were involved in 28 percent of pedestrian crashes and 34 percent of pedestrian accidents in high-crash corridors downtown, the [city] study said. The rate fell to 2 percent outside the central business district, a change perhaps reflecting the concentration of taxis downtown, officials said." Transportation commissioner Gabe Klein told the Tribune that, in Hilkevitch's words, "the majority of taxi drivers in Chicago pose a public safety menace."

Fairness obliged Hilkevitch to seek a rebuttal, and he got one from George Lutfallah, publisher of the monthly newspaper Chicago Dispatcher. Said Lutfallah, "The reality is that cabs flock to pedestrians and pedestrians flock to cabs." Nothing especially profound about that, but common sense is rarely profound. It's more likely to be, as it is here, self-evident, but no less welcome for that.

And much further back in Section 1, where the Tribune ghettoizes national and world news, there's a piece on President Obama's troubles. Washington reporter Peter Nicholas writes that "one Democratic congressman who has defended Obama to fellow liberals said he told White House officials at a recent meeting they seemed to have Stockholm syndrome — embracing the Republican view that deficit reduction should be a major national priority, in the manner of hostages who come to sympathize with their captors."

The Stockholm syndrome meme originated with Frank Rich, then of the New York Times, last December. (Though here's a piece from the conservative American Spectator at the same time proposing that the Democrats are the captors and the public the hostages.)

The meme was recently dusted off and reapplied to Obama. Here's HuffPo, here's political comedian Will Durst, and here's a British writer calling the debt ceiling negotiations the "Stockholm Syndrome on steroids."

Is Obama becoming a victim of the Stockholm Syndrome syndrome?

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