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HomeIllinois PoliticsIR Review: Kudos to the emerging Fifth Estate, "Madigan" rules

IR Review: Kudos to the emerging Fifth Estate, “Madigan” rules



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No matter how furiously Illinois' powers-that-be are working to suffocate interest in the newly-released documentary "Madigan: Power. Privilege. Politics," they can't overcome the 63 percent of the state's residents that disapprove of House Speaker Mike Madigan and their desire for truth about how their beloved state got in the dark hole where it is today.

Now a national laughingstock for appearing to tolerate political corruption, unprecedented debt and inability to pass a balanced budget, conscientious, big-shouldered Illinoisans are desperately searching for a way to escape further embarrassment and yes, ultimate financial destruction.

Naturally, Illinoisans look to the Fourth Estate for unbiased information and the courage to hold shady, power-mad politicians accountable. But over the years in Illinois, the mainstream media has been intimidated into silence, acceptance and finally, participation in an overall politically destructive plan.

To mix a couple of metaphors, we should walk a mile in their shoes before throwing stones at them for betraying us. How else can they gain access to the powers-that-be? And how else do they keep their jobs in a collapsing industry?

Perhaps that's the reason why Illinois' bitter Fourth Estate is so adamantly riling against an evolving Fifth Estate. It is becoming the next resource to which diligent information seekers turn: alternative sources such as film documentaries, radio talk shows, cable and online news providers. 

And it's also likely to be the reason why there's such animosity against Illinois Policy Action's new "Madigan" documentary.

"No governing body can be expected to operate well without knowledge of the issues on which it is to rule, and rule by the people entails that the people should be informed," Stanford University's Journalism in a Digital Age says.  

"In a representative democracy, the role of the press is twofold: it both informs citizens and sets up a feedback loop between the government and voters. The press makes the actions of the government known to the public, and voters who disapprove of current trends in policy can take corrective action in the next election. Without the press, the feedback loop is broken and the government is no longer accountable to the people. The press is therefore of the utmost importance in a representative democracy," the report goes on to say. 

Perhaps that's why the new "Madigan" documentary is so interesting and compelling. Setting aside the film's perceived agenda to take Madigan down, one must ask, "What if even half of the film's allegations are true?"

Shouldn't Illinois' media be reacting with facts and documentation to prove or disprove, rather than responding with emotional Tweets scorning the messenger and completely ignoring its message?

Three Republican former state lawmakers – state senators Roger Keats and Steve Rauschenberger, along with former state representative Darlene Senger – were courageous enough to be interviewed for the documentary hitting selected theatres this week. Each explained their own perspectives on how Illinois' legislative system has worked for decades under the all-powerful House Speaker's rule, and how badly-needed reform proposals of which the Speaker disapproves never see the light of day.

They also exposed how Madigan rose to power through a system of taxpayer-funded patronage jobs that cost average citizens more and more every year. One of those patronage workers – which would not allow his image or voice to be used in the film – explained how his livelihood is dependent on working his Democrat precinct, contributing at least eight percent of his salary to the party and getting his local party candidates elected. 

The film features interviews with three Democrats that faced public humiliation for standing up to Speaker Madigan – former governor Rod Blagojevich's brother Robert, State Rep. Ken Dunkin and recent Madigan primary challenger Jason Gonzales.

All of their eye-opening stories have been ignored or squelched by Illinois' insider-protecting Fourth Estate.

Once a crucial source of information, Illinois mainstream media has no one to blame but themselves for the emergence of an alternative source and this documentary funded by wealthy donors that, the Fourth Estate says, includes GOP Governor Bruce Rauner.

"Madigan" will be shown throughout the state in a limited release over the next weeks – the very time frame in which average voters focus on politics and make their decisions who to support in the voting booth. 

It's sad that we've gotten to this point in the great state of Illinois, but we now need to make a conscious effort to gather information from sources other than Illinois' failed and no longer dependable Fourth Estate.  

Dear fellow 63 percent of Madigan-disapproving Illinoisans, please see and consider the information in "Madigan." If you disapprove of what you learn in the film, use that information to take corrective action when you vote November 8th. 

It's true that without an objective, speak-truth-to-power Fourth Estate, the crucial feedback loop is broken and the republic is no longer accountable to the people. 

Thank goodness a refreshing and thought-provoking Fifth Estate has emerged and stepped in … and just in time.


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  1. What remains of the newspapers in Illinois is a joke.
    Consolidation of newspapers into the ownership of a very few, has made the problem worse. Local newspapers, when under LOCAL ownership, published local news and letters from local people.
    Our formerly “local” newspaper was bought-out several months ago, now we see only four pages of local news, the rest comes from three larger area cities. The paper in question always states “We welcome your letters,”
    BUT IT NEVER PRINTS ANY. Accordingly, it has lost hundreds of subscribers.
    Some years ago, a former newswoman from the DAILY HERALD, assigned to cover the activities of the Kane County Board, was asked why she only asked “softball” questions to the then-chairwoman of the Board, replied:
    “If I asked hard questions, I would be denied access.”
    Subscriber complaints about this caused her removal, and the assignment was given to a REAL reporter, who has done an excellent job, despite furor and hatred from the current Board Chairman.
    The internet has given all of us a voice, one that the politically and financially motivated “print media” cannot edit, censor or ignore.
    And the “print media” is having a fit over it.

  2. So true, Observer –
    Access is the key and its the driving force behind Illinois media.
    I look forward to viewing “Madigan,” although I must admit nothing I learn from the viewing is likely to surprise me – it’s almost depressing to see how little input the average citizen has on our government.