There’s an interesting political back story to Newt Minow, whose public service ranges from working with the late Gov. Adlai E. Stevenson in 1952 to later declaring television a “vast wasteland” as head of the Federal Communications Commission. The 90-year-old was among 21 people named recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday.
Minow was appointed FCC chair by President John F. Kennedy when he told the National Association of Broadcasters in 1961 that “when television is bad, nothing is worse” and dared industry professionals to watch a full day of their product, including “commercials — many screaming, cajoling and offending.”
Minow’s denouncement was commemorated in television immortality with the sunken ship of “Gilligan’s Island,” the S.S. Minnow, named for him.
Minow called himself a lifelong Democrat, active in the campaigns of Sen. Paul Simon, the late U.S. Rep. Abner Mikva and Sen. Adlai E. Stevenson III, and a member of five Democratic National Convention delegations from Illinois.
But in 2014, Minow announced he was taking a “leave of absence” from his Democratic Party and backed Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for election over then-Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. (Rick Pearson)
What’s on tap
*Mayor Rahm Emanuel is headed to Rome to see Archbishop Blase Cupich elevated to cardinal. World Business Chicago, a taxpayer-funded group, is paying his way.