An open records request that revealed more than 700 emails between the producers of CNN’s Chicagoland series and the office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel showcase a cozy relationship.
On Friday, the Chicago Tribune published a report detailing those close ties while CNN issued a statement denying that the Chicago mayor’s office had “editorial control” over the content of the series.
“[E]mails 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 newspaper wrote.
CNN responded with a statement asserting that the “mayor’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 eight-episode documentary series, executive produced by Robert Redford, premiered on CNN on March 6 after being showcased at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
Emails obtained and highlighted by the Tribune show director Marc Levin writing to one of the mayor’s senior advisers: “Our need for deeper access — a real, honest look behind closed doors — is not born of a desire to expose the mayor’s weaknesses, but instead to show the best of who he really is and what he’s doing.”
On Jan. 19, The Hollywood Reporter reported that William Morris Endeavor, which represented series directors Levin and Mark Benjamin, had recused itself from the show in order to sidestep a conflict of interest. Rahm Emanuel is the brother of WME co-CEO Ari Emanuel.