Who is the loser in the Chicago mayoral debate? Phil Ponce

Who is the loser in the Chicago mayoral debate? Phil Ponce
Phil Ponce WTTW

The loser of Tuesday night’s Chicago mayoral debate was the moderator WTTW host Phil Ponce.

He was booed by audience members when he repeatedly asked Jesus “Chuy” García if his son was still a gang member.

Even Mayor Rahm Emanuel thought this was a bad question.

“I don’t think this is a fair line of questioning,” the mayor interrupted Ponce.

But Ponce insisted on asking if García couldn’t keep his son out of a gang, then how can he fight gangs as mayor?

Really Ponce?

So if your son were to get into trouble gangs, drugs, DUI or otherwise, would that be all your fault?

García kept his cool and explained that his son is not in a gang, has volunteered with groups like Cease Fire, works as a chef and has four children.

“He turned his life around. I’m proud of him,” García said.

Ponce didn’t ask Emanuel any questions about his family.

Ponce also repeatedly pushed García to explain the financial status of the nonprofit he formerly directed.

But he did not press the mayor as hard on the city’s finances and the pension fund.

Why not ask about how Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the city’s credit rating?

They cited $20 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and lowered the rating on $8.3 billion in general obligation debt to near junk bond status. They issued a cautious forecast about the city’s longer-term financial future.

Ponce didn’t press the mayor hard on finances.

Instead he continually interrupted García and let the mayor skate without any hard followup questions.

And he didn’t even ask about one of the mayor’s most controversial acts – the closing of the 50 public schools in 2013.

This debate revealed very little new about either candidate mostly due to the weak line of questioning and terrible moderating.

It was a low point for journalism in Chicago.

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