What's a TV station to do when its news anchors are caught on tape fawning over Chicago's mayor in a clear violation of the principles of journalistic objectivity?
Have them removed from the tape, of course.
That's CBS-2's approach to the Walter E. Smithe Furniture commercial now onn the air, which features CBS personalities Bill Kurtis, Walter Jacobson, Rob Johnson and Ryan Baker singing the praises of Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Kurtis calls Daley the "best mayor" of the "best city in America." Jacobson lauds the mayor for 22 years in office and says: ""We have loved watching you go through it.”
WBBM honcho Bruno Cohen tells the Trib the station approved having "a few of its employees participate in what was described to us as a farewell video that would be given directly to Mayor Daley when he steps down after 22 years in office next week."
The take home: it's okay for journalists to fawn over the mayor, but only if they believe they're doing it privately.
The smart thing for CBS to do is apologize for this sleazy ethical lapse and put policies in place to make sure something similar doesn't happen in the future, and then describe those moves to the public in a way that makes it clear the station takes this seriously.
Hiding the ball makes it clear that the station doesn't take ethics seriously, and also doesn't really understand how the Internet works.
Smithe has removed the CBS personnel from the video on its Web site, but the original remains on YouTube. Here it is.