POWER CIRCULATES DIFFERENTLY in the digital age. It’s all about controlling the digital traces — collecting, mining, sharing, exposing, delaying, or erasing the data. Inevitably, some handling will occur in ordinary politics. But when the data are manipulated in order to obstruct criminal justice or steal an election, then it’s no longer ordinary politics; it becomes a cover-up.
With each new day, there is growing evidence of a cover-up in Chicago.
First, late on Friday night, December 4, 2015, Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, released hundreds of pages of police reports from the October 2014 Laquan McDonald murder — including false statements by police officers who were at the scene of the crime. The data dump came at such a late hour that the Chicago Tribune was not able to report on the massive discrepancies between those statements and the dashcam video of McDonald’s death until an article posted early Saturday morning, at 1:25 a.m., while most of the city was asleep.
Then, in a Saturday op-ed simultaneously placed in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, Emanuel offered a different story than he had previously about why he did not view the dashcam video in the months before its November 2015 release. In an earlier interview with Politico, Emanuel said that he didn’t watch the dashcam footage because if he had seen it, reporters and the public would be asking why they didn’t get to see it too. But in his op-ed, Emanuel wrote that he didn’t watch it “because my own emotions should not interfere with criminal investigations.”
The discrepancy is striking in itself. It also goes against everything Emanuel had previously said about the fact that he does not interfere with or control the timing of criminal investigations. Is the mayor now suggesting that he could have pushed the state’s attorney, Anita Alvarez, to charge Officer Jason Van Dyke in November 2014, in the middle of his heated reelection campaign?
The timing of the op-eds also raises suspicion. They went online earlier Friday afternoon and were in print Saturday morning, just in time to wash out the late Friday data dump. Once again, it seems, the city’s leader was gaming the data flow.