Should any powerful elected official in America use his influence to have an opposition newspaper canceled? Is it allowable for a president or governor to have such a paper literally taken out of print?
Well, it happened. In Illinois. At least temporarily.
This sad episode in the heartland speaks to a larger dangerous trend in America. Increasingly, the permanent political class and corporate elites cooperate to suppress our rights of free speech and a free press.
For example, the Biden White House directly intervened with Big Tech to censor voices like Alex Berenson. What was the online “crime” of this former New York Times reporter? Well, Berenson dared to document reasons for skepticism regarding the experimental vaccines produced by Big Pharma that were forced upon millions of Americans via government, employment, and educational mandates.
Thankfully Berenson is back online, but only because of hardnosed litigation. Now, this new recent act of suppression and reprisal by Gov. JB Pritzker in Illinois forms the next opportunity to defend free expression.
Pritzker faces a tough reelection campaign in a likely wave election year that puts even formerly Democrat states like Illinois in play. So, rather than try to defend his miserable record of failure as governor, Pritzker recently intervened directly to have privately-funded newspapers canceled and opposition TV ads removed from the airwaves in Illinois.
In recent weeks, a group named Local Government Information Services has mailed out millions of physical newspapers using investigative journalism as well as opinion pieces (including some of my own) to expose Pritzker’s ruinous record. The papers highlight, for example, how much worse inflation is in Illinois compared to neighboring states. They also provide tragic details of the crime sweeping Illinois during Pritzker’s tenure.
Perhaps most irritating to Pritzker, the free-speech newspapers provide tangible, real-world evidence of the looming dangers of Pritzker’s misnamed SAFE-T Act, which will free thousands of extremely violent felons without cash bail, including perpetrators charged with second-degree murder, kidnapping, and arson. The LGIS papers smartly dared to showcase the mugshots of some of the criminals who will soon roam Illinois streets, courtesy of the soft-on-crime radicalism of Gov. Pritzker.
The papers are hard-hitting and brutally effective. As Pritzker pours hundreds of millions of dollars of his inherited trust-fund fortune into his campaigns, this newspaper method employs a motivating but low-cost ground game to counter Pritzker’s political air-war.
Predictably, the trustafarian exploded at the success of the papers. Also predictably, he resorted to the default leftist playbook and deemed the papers “racist” for showing real mug shots. The Chicago Sun Times called them “far right ‘newspapers.’” In fact, the compliant Chicago corporate media gladly joined in to defend Pritzker and oppose free speech. Axios Chicago, for example, sent out a blast warning of “fake news(papers).”
So, Pritzker used his political weight to pressure the company printing and mailing the newspapers, Paddock Publications. That printer also owns the Daily Herald newspaper chain in suburban Chicago. Pritzker’s campaign wrote to the company: “these mailers are specifically designed to mislead readers into thinking they are legitimate journalism.” He also pulled out of a candidate forum co-sponsored by the Daily Herald chain.
First, it would be amazing to listen to Pritzker actually define how papers such as the Chicago Sun Times and Chicago Tribune are “legitimate journalism.” But regardless, Paddock Publications relented and canceled the printing contract. Even though the company readily admits it prints all kinds of newsletter and newspaper products, without regard for the content, these papers became suddenly unprintable.
Concurrent with the suppression of the newspapers, the Pritzker campaign used infamous Democrat lawyer Marc Elias to pressure two Chicago TV stations, WGN and local NBC, to cancel anti-Pritzker PAC ads from airing.
Welcome to America in the 2020s! A land where the White House can cancel your social media and a sitting governor can have your paper tossed and your TV ads refused.
Such are the tactics of a person like Pritzker who deems himself lord of some realm rather than an elected servant leader. After all, this is the same disgraced politician who ordered some of the most draconian and unscientific lockdown edicts in America during the Spring of 2020, while sending his own family via private jet to luxuriate at their ultra-high end equestrian estate in Ron DeSantis’ open state of Florida.
If the voters receive the full spectrum of information about Pritzker and choose to re-elect him, so be it. But this speech repression cannot stand.
Thankfully, the opposition to Pritzker in Illinois remains steadfast. Local radio host Dan Proft, affiliated with both the newspapers and the TV ads, declared: “the papers will continue to be printed and distributed even if we have to return to the Gutenberg Press.”
In fact, the furor over the cancelation has likely created an even more intense anti-Pritzker backlash. More donors have already lined up and new printers have been secured.
In the spirit of the pamphleteers of colonial America, the freedom of expression lives on in Illinois.