Now that North Shore voters have turned down Tuesday's referendum on $174 million in renovations to New Trier Township High School, some people are bound to blame Jay Levine. Ever since WBBM-Channel 2's chief correspondent delivered a controversial report about the issue last week, he's come under fire for his attitude -- if not his facts.
Levine's report was no straightforward news story. In keeping with his latest persona on the CBS-owned station as a cocky advocate for the little guy (a role created and once played to perfection by Walter Jacobson), Levine is being encouraged by his bosses to embellish the facts with his opinion. But unlike Jacobson, whose commentaries were always labeled "Walter's Perspective," Levine's editorializing carries no such disclaimer.
Even before his report on New Trier aired, it was clear the intent was to provoke an emotional reaction. In teasing the piece hours earlier, Levine's producer, Ed Marshall, tweeted: "Top high school in US fears falling behind. New Trier faces backlash for $200M taj mahal plan. Bad timing award? Jay Levine at 10p on cbs2."
If labeling it a "Taj Mahal plan" weren't enough of a signal, Channel 2 abandoned any pretense of objectivity when 10 p.m. news anchor Rob Johnson introduced Levine's piece with these words: