Chicago’s 'Window to the World' looks out from Democrat-filled bubble
WTTW Channel 11, Chicago’s public television station, employs no Republican voters on the staff of its signature news program, “Chicago Tonight.”
A survey of the 24 production and on-air staff listed on its website revealed that 15 voted in the most recent Democratic primary election, one is registered to vote but did not participate, and none voted in the most recent Republican primary.
Chicago City Wire was unable to determine the status of the remaining eight employees.
Among the Democratic voters featured on the program is longtime local media fixture and frequent "Chicago Tonight" contributor, Carol Marin. Marin pulled a Democratic ballot in the 2016 primary.
The station declares its mission to be “committed to creating and presenting independent, unique television and digital media content.”
It is unclear, however, how a news program with a roster of producers, reporters and on-air personalities so heavily oriented toward one political point of view can serve such an “independent” mission.
Channel 11 is owned by Window to the World Communications Inc. (WWCI) and is a sister station to classical music radio station WFMT.
These stations are funded in part by federal and state grants. Taxpayer funds paid to WTTW totaled $3,923,000 for fiscal year 2014-2015, according to WWCI’s most recent publicly available annual report.
In addition to its public funding, among the "Chicago Tonight" sponsors is ComEd, the default electricity provider to 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, and BMO Harris Bank. Each of these companies donated $100,000 or more to WCCI, the annual report stated.
Other donors include local banks, law firms, utilities and health care companies. As part of its local coverage, the WTTW news program reports on these business sectors from time to time.
The station’s board of directors and management team have a similar political slant, but they are not exclusively Democrat. Of the 10 individuals in these categories, half are Democrats, one voted in the most recent Republican primary, three are registered but did not vote in the primary, and one is unknown.
Among those whose affiliation is known, 63 percent of the "Chicago Tonight" staff vote Democrat and 0 percent vote Republican.
Overall, including management and board members, the breakdown is 80 percent Democrat and 4 percent Republican.