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CNN tries to end rumors that 'Chicagoland' is propaganda piece

Journalists skeptical about the authenticity of 'Chicagoland'
Journalists skeptical about the authenticity of 'Chicagoland'
Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

CNN is apparently in damage control mode on Friday as they defend their programming decision to air the documentary "Chicagoland", which lends a rather favorable view of Chicago and its mayor Rahm Emanuel, according the Hollywood Reporter.

Critics of the series say the show depicts Rahm Emanuel and the city's police superintendent Garry McCarthy as heroic and civil servants dedicated to saving Chicago and making it a better place.

LA Times TV reviewer Robert Lloyd said of "Chicagoland" on March 6, "There's no sense that we're getting either a genuine behind-the-scenes look at the office or going beneath the skin of the man [Rahm Emanuel]."

The Chicago Tribune has been skeptical about the 8-hour documentary series which chronicles Chicago's education and gun violence challenges. The Tribune is now suggesting that the message of the documentary may have been influenced by the politicians shaping it in an expose they featured on Friday. The newspaper reportedly uncovered some emails which suggests that Rahm Emanuel's office had some influence over the content of the piece.

The Tribune wrote, "If it seemed as though some scenes of CNN's documentary series "Chicagoland" were coordinated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's City Hall and the show's producers, that's because they were."

"More than 700 emails reviewed by the Tribune reveal that the production team worked hand in hand with the mayor's advisers to develop storylines, arrange specific camera shots and review news releases officially announcing the show."

The Trib went on to say:

"The production team for the series, whose final episode aired Thursday night, told Emanuel's staff that particular scenes would present the mayor in a positive light, with one of the producers expressing a desire to showcase the mayor "as the star that he really is."

The Hollywood Reporter reported that CNN denied "Chicagoland" was a propaganda film, saying point blank, the "[M]ayor’s office was never granted editorial control over the content or the press communications for Chicagoland, and no agency was ever granted authority to offer the mayor’s office editorial approval for the content or the promotional materials for the series."

The series was produced by Robert Redford and premiered on CNN on March 6.

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