- Scott Olson/Getty
- What’s with all the confusion at Tribune headquarters?
Chicago’s Jazz Age Gangsters
were covered like celebrities
Excerpts from Ron Grossman’s Chicago Flashback story:
“For the Tribune, it was an era of journalistic civil war between its Editorial page and its news columns—the former decrying lawlessness, the latter feeding the public’s seemingly inexhaustible hunger for tales of tough guys with blazing guns.”
“Still, editorial writers, concerned citizens and indignant cops were fighting an uphill battle in trying to raise the public’s ire against mobsters, as Page One stories and movies were making them celebrities.”
My chicken-or-egg question: So who was responding to what—the media, to the public’s inexhaustible hunger for celebrity mobsters; or the public, to the deluge of page-one stories and movies making the mobsters celebrities? Grossman tells us that back in the day, there was a “popular-culture romanticization” of the mobsters “who held huge swaths of the city in their deadly grasp.” Huh? They terrorized Chicago, so Chicago romanticized them? Was this the Stockholm syndrome at work? Was it gratitude because they provided hooch? And why don’t we romanticize today’s mobsters? Or is The Sopranos just the most obvious evidence that we do? Please elaborate.