The parent company of the Daily Herald announced on Thursday that it would stop printing controversial political publications sent to homes in northern Illinois on behalf of conservative activists.
The decision was published on the newspaper’s website on Thursday afternoon. Hours earlier, Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker’s campaign sent Paddock Publications Inc. a letter stating that he would not be attending an upcoming Illinois Associated Press Media Editors candidate interview involving the Daily Herald.
Pritzker’s campaign said in a statement to the Northwest Herald Thursday night that given Paddock’s hiring, they are “reconsidering” the publications the governor’s attendance.
“Recent news reports and social media posts have held Paddock Publications, the parent company of the Daily Herald, accountable for a print job it accepted from Local Government Information Services,” Paddock Publications senior management said in a statement. “It was a business decision to take the job. The impression has been given to some that the Daily Herald is the editor of these publications. We are not. The company does not endorse the content of print jobs it does for suppliers, including many newspapers. She neither welcomes them nor condemns them. It just prints them.”
LGIS has created nearly three dozen publications that look like newspapers but contain content that has been decried as politically charged. Company filings filed with the Secretary of State list Republican insider Brian Timpone as president. Dan Proft, a radio talk show host and former GOP gubernatorial candidate, is recorded as a director of the LGIS board of directors. Its current affiliation with the company was unclear.
Earlier Thursday, Pritzker’s campaign sent a letter to Doug Ray, the chairman, publisher and CEO of Paddock Publications Inc., requesting that the company publicly announce its agreement with LGIS.
The Pritzker campaign letter called the LGIS publications “fake and misleading” and said they “pose an existential threat to quality, independent journalism.”
“This is not an indictment of the hardworking journalists who accurately report the news for the Daily Herald,” Pritzker wrote in the letter. “Rather, this is five-alarm fire for those who found it acceptable to flood Illinoisans with partisan propaganda and outright lies.”
The Daily Herald, along with other local media, is involved in scheduling interviews with candidates as part of the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors’ effort. Invitations to the governor’s forum were sent by a Daily Herald representative to Pritzker and Republican candidate Darren Bailey, IAPME President Dennis Anderson said Thursday, but videos and articles resulting from the forum were scheduled to be shared in more than 20 national newspapers.
Anderson is also vice president of news and content development at Shaw Media, owner of the Northwest Herald.
“On behalf of our members and our readers across Illinois, IAPME hopes that the governor will change his mind and participate in the interview,” Anderson said. “The interviews are designed to share candidates’ views on issues affecting all Illinois residents. This is an important election for Illinois’ future and it is important that voters have an opportunity to hear directly from the candidates.”
Pritzker’s campaign could not be immediately reached for comment on whether he now intends to attend the forum, which is scheduled for September 30th.
Paddock did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday afternoon.
In its statement on the Daily Herald’s website, it said: “The editorial office will be kept separate from the printing operations. For example, it is ethical for the printer not to notify the editorial team when a press operator sees a front-page story coming off our presses for another newspaper. And the editors don’t ask which print jobs the printing center takes on.
“It has been felt by some that the Daily Herald favors one party over another and by printing for LGIS it is somehow promoting its message. That is not true.”
A report in the Northwest Herald last week first reported that the mailings were distributed by LGIS using Paddock’s US mailing permits.
In a statement Thursday, Proft, who is also president of the People Who Play By The Rules Political Action Committee, compared Pritzker to a king who believes anything he disagrees with, whether it’s uncirculated in his TV ads, newspapers or commentators will. He said the governor views the media as “no different than at his horse farm in Wellington, FL.”
“Governor Pritzker believes that his money guarantees him control of the government and entitles him to subjugate all of his government’s media,” Proft said in the statement. “In short, he … thinks an election is about his ambitions rather than the aspirations of Illinois families.”
Proft later released an additional statement further criticizing Pritzker, saying that the papers “would continue to be printed and distributed even if we had to go back to the Gutenberg press.”
LGIS was created in 2016 ahead of this year’s presidential election and has continued to email content through the last three federal election cycles and the current one.
Much of the content on the sites, which include The McHenry Times, The Kane County Reporter, Chicago City Wire, and The DeKalb Times, features articles reporting what Conservative and Republican officials are saying on a range of issues, stories that focus on critical race theory classes in schools; and the state’s new SAFE-T law, which is slated to go into effect in January.
Timpone could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The publications are not members of the Illinois Press Association, President Don Craven said last week. He added that he has not interacted with LGIS.