Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Questions for WTTW about Phil Ponce's conduct in the March 31, 2015 candidate debate

Last night Phil Ponce moderated a candidate forum that has been widely panned.

Some of the media outlets that covered it:
  • Did Phil Ponce Win Some Votes for Garcia By Bringing Up His Son? [Chicago Magazine (Carol Felsenthal)]

  • Who is the loser in the Chicago mayoral debate? Phil Ponce [Chicago Now (Teresa Puente)]

  • There's no debate: Phil Ponce blew it last night [Crain's (Steve Rhodes)]

  • WATCH: Debate moderator booed when he asks Chicago mayoral candidate about son’s criminal history [Raw Story (Arturo Garcia)]

    The outlet I liked best captured the reaction on Twitter:

    WTTW’s Phil Ponce Crossed the Line in Asking Chuy GarcĂ­a About His Son’s ‘Gang’ Past [Latino Rebels]

    Using's petition feature, I created a petition calling for Phil Ponce to be fired. Within 20 hours it had 1,288 signatures.

    A number of people who signed the petition called for people to call WTTW and leave messages. Messages are good. Questions are better.

    Below the fold are some questions I came up with. But please suggest questions in the comments. Write in the comments the questions you asked and the responses you received.

    Many questions I wrote are based on Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.

    • Is WTTW satisfied with Ponce's performance?

    • Did anyone in a supervisory role ask Ponce in advance if he could be fair?

    One of the things I learned from doing this petition is that Emanuel & Ponce live two doors apart & have for years. Micach Uetricht (In These Times) linked to a Crain's article about this.

    • Given the relationship between Ponce & Emanuel, should WTTW have asked if Ponce could be fair?

    • Does WTTW have a code of ethics beyond the SPJ Code of Ethics?

    • Does WTTW expect its journalists to follow the SPJ Code of Ethics?

    • Does WTTW consider Ponce a journalist or something else?

    • What procedures does WTTW have for investigating allegations of unethical conduct?

    • At what point does racist framing of issues become unethical at WTTW?

    • Was Ponce's moderation fair?

    • Is Mayor Emanuel running a racist campaign to get support from White voters?

    • Is Emanuel making racist attacks by proxy, eg his New Trier classmate, Mark Kirk?

    • Did Ponce become a proxy for Emanuel?

    • Did Ponce's questions about money & gangs play to White anxieties & racism?

    • Is labeling an individual a "gang" member a racial neutral designation?

    • Which Chicago journalist has studied the procedure & practice of Chicago police labeling individual's "gang" members?

    • Richard J. Daley was a "gang" member. Why is he not referred to as a gang member in Chicago media?

    • Is it ethical for journalists to foment racism?

    The SPJ Code of Ethics states:

    Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.

    • Did Ponce contact Com. Garcia's son & allow him to respond to allegations of wrongdoing? 

    • What did Garcia's son say to Ponce? 

    • Did Ponce fail to contact Garcia's son because he wasn't important?

    • What made Garcia's son not important enough to treat in an ethical manner?

    • Is it because he's Latino?

    • How is Com. Garcia's son's life more important that thousands of other questions Ponce could have asked?

    • Why didn't Ponce ask about Emanuel's son?

    • Who at WTTW ever put Mayor Daley on the spot about criminality & unethical behavior of his son?

    • Who is Chicago media ever questioned Mayor Daley about Patrick Daley?


  1. My question is: Can we have a new debate with a non-biased moderator?
    2nd, Ponce did NOT use the term "gang member." He used the term "gangbanger." Does he not know this is a perjorative term? Why was Ponce allowed to moderate this debate, in that he was so biased and monies were paid to WTTW? Is there no one we can trust in Chicago Media?

  2. When will Phil Ponce publicly apologize to Jesus Chuy Garcia?