CNN Producer Memo About Chicago Mayor Documentary: “Present Him as The star That He Really Is”

Screenshot 2014-04-25 14.34.50

From Chicago Tribune:

“If it seemed as though some scenes of CNN’s documentary series “Chicagoland” were coordinated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City Hall and the show’s producers, that’s because they were.

More than 700 emails reviewed by the Tribune reveal that the production team worked hand in hand with the mayor’s advisers to develop storylines, arrange specific camera shots and review news releases officially announcing the show.(…)

City Hall’s frequent correspondence with the producers illustrates how senior aides to a mayor known for shaping his media image managed how their boss would be portrayed on CNN to a prime time national audience. (…)

“Everything the mayor does is stage-managed. Everything. That is the way he operates, so I’m not going to dispute that,” Levin said in an interview when asked about his emails that requested specific scenes featuring the mayor. “I would be the first to acknowledge that you don’t get into Chicago … and get access without having to do a certain dance.

“I’m not saying these people had editorial control. They didn’t,” Levin said of the mayor’s office. “But at the same time, yes, we were sensitive that we were moving through this city and getting access to a lot of places because we had developed a dialogue with the mayor.” (…)

Another Jasculca daughter, Lauren Foley, emailed Cooper, the mayor’s press secretary, to ask her to send “the list of story/interview ideas that you and your team were going to put together” for the “Chicagoland” producers.

“I’ll be in touch in the upcoming days to further discuss characters and story lines that we suggest,” Cooper wrote a few days later to the producers. “We look forward to working with you!”

Emails show nine senior Emanuel staffers exchanged emails on the series early on, with one to Cooper including an attachment labeled “DocuSeries Characters.”

The mayor’s office redacted those messages and hundreds more sent between administration officials, citing an exemption in Illinois’ open records law for preliminary correspondence among city employees in which opinions are expressed or policies are formulated. The mayor’s office did not respond to questions about its decision to redact the emails.

On July 1, Levin emailed Spielfogel, the mayor’s senior adviser, and Cooper telling them that for the series to reach its full potential, “we need to go to the next level with the Mayor.”

“Right now, we’re not doing justice to the Mayor’s real bold leadership style, ambitions and policies,” Levin wrote. “I know we still have time to round out the Mayor’s story and present him as the star that he really is.”

Levin said he was trying to get the administration to give him more time with the mayor, and he hoped to capture Emanuel’s well-known fiery side. Block, the documentary film expert, said such persuasion tactics are common among producers. (…)

Some emails that were provided show City Hall worked closely enough with CNN that drafts of the network’s news releases about “Chicagoland” were shared ahead of time. When the network prepared to announce the series in the spring of 2013, Jasculca Terman’s Foley twice forwarded copies of CNN news releases to Emanuel’s office.

“This version is considered final for CNN. Thoughts?” Foley wrote to Emanuel press aides, to which Cooper responded, “Thanks! I’ll have edits for you shortly!” Foley wrote back, “Perfect! Thank you!”

Foley initially said the email exchange was reflective of CNN’s desire to have a good working relationship with the mayor’s office, but later said the city was not allowed to edit CNN’s announcement. Cooper and the mayor’s office declined to answer questions about the email exchange. On Friday, a CNN spokeswoman issued a statement: “The mayor’s office was never granted editorial control over the content or the press communications for Chicagoland, and no agency was ever granted authority to offer the mayor’s office editorial approval for the content or the promotional materials for the series.” “,0,2516905.story



One thought on “CNN Producer Memo About Chicago Mayor Documentary: “Present Him as The star That He Really Is”

  1. This is why CNN has no credibility anymore are get outrated by MSNBC’s Lockup of all things! It was one huge campaign ad from the jump and everyone knew it or should have know it. As for that scumbag Emanuel it just goes to show that schilling for big money corps. and knowing people in high places wins everytime.

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