Rebecca Haarlow, Rafer Weigel, Natalie Martinez join in Blackhawks Media Cheerleading

Rebecca Haarlow, Rafer Weigel, Natalie Martinez join in Blackhawks Media Cheerleading

You could say the Chicago Blackhawks receive some soft media coverage in this town.

You’d be making a tremendous understatement.

Just last week I called out Comcast SportsNet Chicago for their overt Blackhawks cheerleading. The team does own 20% of CSN Chicago, so the network was in fact partially created so that the teams owning them (the Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox) could have editorial control over the game broadcasts. Therefore, you can understand why CSN Chicago acts as overt Blackhawks cheerleaders. However, they still don’t go so far as to actually wear Hawks regalia during broadcasts.

The local ABC and NBC affiliates do in fact go that far.

Saturday night, ABC 7′s Rafer Weigel wore a Blackhawks tie while anchoring the WLS-TV 10 o’clock news. WMAQ-Ch. 5 reporter Natalie Martinez wore a Jonathan Toews #19 Blackhawks sweater while "reporting" Monday on fan reaction to the Blackhawks’ loss. WMAQ’s Rebecca Haarlow opened an interview with Blackhawks Owner Rocky Wirtz by referring to him as “the man, the myth, the legend.” Why doesn’t Haarlow just commission a bronze sculpture of Wirtz to be placed at the United Center while she’s at it?

As for Martinez, we understand now why she’s not a sports reporter.

There is this idea that the media are the “fourth estate,” acting as a check on the people and industries they cover. Media professionals are expected to be unbiased; in order to keep the individuals they report on honest. The Stanley Cup Final should not just be a time and place for objectivity. It’s when the media should be the most objective. I ran into a prominent local sportswriter Saturday night while attending a Retired Professional Football Players of Chicago (RPFPC) mixer. He was on his way to the hockey game; as a fan, not a reporter. He was decked out in full Hawks gear. However, he was headed to a ticketed United Center seat, not the press box. That’s totally fine.

Rafer Weigel was working when he had his Hawks gear on. Although I totally understand why he did. It was a very touching tribute to his late, great father. It was the eve of Father’s Day. So even though I disagree with his decision, I totally understand and respect it. His father was a great man who did great work in this city.

On Twitter I was quite critical of Weigel that night. It was a knee jerk reaction on my part. Chicago Tribune business reporter Phil Rosenthal, who wrote a must read column today on this topic, was critical as well.

Rosenthal also explores how the city itself basks in the reflected glory of the Hawks Cup run. Chicago Now’s John Chatz also mixed it up with Weigel that night on Twitter. And WLS Radio’s Bruce Wolf chimed in with a very funny quip too.

Weigel, Martinez, Haarlow, CSN Chicago (and let’s not forget the Chicago Sun-Times, as Wirtz is an investor in the newspaper), remind me of The Simpsons episode where Homer runs a vigilante gang; which inevitably abuses their own power in Springfield.

Lisa Simpson: “if you’re the police, then who will police the police?”

Homer J. Simpson: “I don’t know, the Coast Guard?”

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net. (“Quasi-endorsed” by Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly) He’s also an author who also contributes regularly to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker

Banks has appeared on the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@PaulMBanks), like him on Facebook

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