Amy Jacobson, the Chicago radio talk show host and former TV news reporter, has been barred from attending Governor J.B. Pritzker’s daily coronavirus media briefings after she spoke at a rally protesting the governor’s stay-at-home order.
Jacobson, who co-hosts mornings with Dan Proft on Salem Media news/talk WIND 560-AM, was among speakers at a Reopen Illinois rally Saturday outside the Thompson Center in Chicago.
Sponsored by Freedom Movement USA, a conservative PAC based in Joliet, the rally also heard from Erich Mancow Muller, morning host on Cumulus Media news/talk WLS 890-AM, and Illinois Republican Party chairman Tim Schneider. A few signs at the event compared Pritzker, who is Jewish, to Adolf Hitler.
Jacobson’s participation prompted others in the media to question whether she had forfeited her standing as a journalist by becoming an advocate and activist.
Capitol Fax editor Rich Miller wrote: “Give a speech at a rally and then expect to be treated like a reporter? Nope.” Chicago Tribune chief political reporter Rick Pearson tweeted: "And we are the ones accused of being 'fake news.'”
On Monday Pritzker’s press secretary, Jordan Abudayyeh, notified Jacobson that she was persona non grata.
“This weekend you attended and spoke at a political rally to fire up the crowd opposing the Governor’s policies to combat COVID-19,” Abudayyeh wrote in an email Jacobson made public. “That rally was attended by people holding hateful Nazi imagery. An impartial journalist would not have attended that rally in that capacity and therefore you will no longer be invited to participate as an impartial journalist.”
Jeff Reisman, regional vice president and general manager of AM 560 The Answer, questioned the decision and said he hoped Jacobson would be readmitted.
“I am disappointed that the governor has decided to limit the scope of questions he receives from the media,” Reisman said. “Amy Jacobson has had a long career as a journalist in Chicago, and she has routinely been asking questions that AM 560’s listeners want to have answered.
“In this time of uncertainty, I would hope that Gov. Pritzker and his staff would be more transparent and accountable to the people of Illinois. Picking and choosing which media outlets are allowed to ask questions creates the impression that Gov. Pritzker isn’t willing to answer difficult questions. I hope this decision would be reversed immediately and that Amy would be given access once again.”
Muller also defended Jacobson, saying: "Why is it we have to agree with Governor Pritzker to ask him questions? . . . Regular people are hurting. That is who Amy and I speak with on our different radio shows. Pritzker allows no followup questions and no real questions from anyone but sycophants."
Jacobson has harshly criticized Pritzker's handling of the shutdown and challenged the governor on why his family recently traveled from a home in Florida to one in Wisconsin in apparent violation of his statewide order. She said she plans to talk about the ban on Tuesday's show.
Before she joined the news/talk station in 2010, Jacobson worked for more than 10 years as a general assignment reporter at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5.
Her tenure was cut short in 2007 when a camera from CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 captured footage of Jacobson wearing a two-piece bathing suit at the home of Craig Stebic, whose wife, Lisa, had been missing. In the ensuing controversy over whether she violated journalistic ethics, Jacobson was fired.
Followup from Rich Miller: "Right now, with the governor isolating at home, the news media briefings are 100 percent virtual. Jacobson is only barred from submitting questions directly to the governor’s press secretary, but she can still submit questions to the two pool reporters like lots of folks do. Whether those reporters will accept her questions is uncertain, though, since she spoke at the reopen rally."
Monday’s comment of the day: Steve Dahl: “Feds Target Dahl” another classic front page from you. Congratulations on 40 years, asshole. JK! Glad we ultimately ended up as friends.