A panel of political experts weighed in on topics ranging from media biases to why the suburbs are a major political battleground during a presentation Wednesday night at Roosevelt University in Schaumburg.
The two-hour event also featured a lot of storytelling, as panelists shared entertaining tales of their memorable moments and favorite interviews.
The panel discussion was one in a series of Daily Herald Subscriber Total Access events which puts subscribers face-to-face with the columnists, writers, photographers and newsmakers they read about every day.
Moderated by quick-witted political pundit and radio commentator Paul Green, the panel included Daily Herald Political Editor Kerry Lester, Daily Herald Assistant Managing Editor/Opinion Page Jim Slusher, former Daily Herald Executive Editor Madeleine Doubek (now chief operating officer for Reboot Illinois), and former political reporter and Roosevelt University Presidential Writer in Residence Charles Madigan.
The panelists acknowledged that a liberal media bias exists but said newspapers guard strongly against it in their stories and insist on a balanced approach to both sides of an issue. Slusher noted that most newspaper companies have both biases under one roof, noting the Daily Herald has endorsed both conservative Republican Peter Roskam and liberal Democrat Jan Schakowsky.
"How you rate an individual or publication depends on where you stand, with your own politics," Slusher said. "There's an absolute insistence on being fair ... to the point of making sure all sides are heard for every story. Does that make us liberal? I don't think so. The Daily Herald is neither liberal nor conservative, but our goal is for them to be better educated and better voters."
The discussion also turned to why the suburbs have become such a hot political battleground, both statewide and nationally. Lester said it's a combination of the suburban demographics and the state legislative maps, giving the suburbs a high number of swing voters.
"Aside from parts of DuPage County, you don't have really solid Republican areas or real solid Democrat areas," she said.
Green said suburban women, in particular, are posing a real challenge for Republicans because of issues like abortion, gun control and contraception.
The night included reminiscing about old politicians like James "Pate" Philip and Jack Kemp, the story-spinning campaign staffers try to pull over on reporters, and questions from the audience on current topics like fact-checking ("one of the great new features in journalism," Doubek said) and political polling ("They rarely mean anything," Madigan said).
"The smartest people are the ones who run the campaigns," Green said. "You spin and you spin and you spin."
Green appreciated the friendly, open-minded tone to the evening, saying, "Compared to Walsh-Duckworth debate, (this) is a walk in the park."