The Talker: Chicago-based New York Times writer bashes Chicago

The Talker: Chicago-based New York Times writer bashes Chicago

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

An article about Chicago that ran in the heavily-read Sunday "New York Times" was viciously negative.

Technically, it was a book review, though most of the criticism was from the reviewer herself, not the authors of the books she mentioned.

The piece starts out: "Poor Chicago." It then cites our problems: our weather, our parking meter rates, our murder rate, our foreclosure rate, our sales tax, our state pension system, and the Cubs.

It then cites what it claims are the big problems: an anemic economy, a legacy of machine politics, uncompromising unions, and family dynasties running the city.

Other big issues: the swagger of Chicagoans who never stop boasting about the city and who cling to a tough-guy, blue-collar, gangster-worship identity.

On the plus side, the piece likes Lake Michigan, Millennium Park, and that global warming has softened our winters.

The author of the piece is Rachel Shteir, who has lived in Chicago for 13 years. She's an associate professor at DePaul University's Theater School and has written three books about the history of striptease, and the history of shoplifting.

We reached out to her, but could not get an interview.

Critics of her question whether the piece was a book review or a personal attack masquerading as a book review.

They also point to a high-profile case of Ms. Schteir getting it wrong. In 2010, an online article she wrote declared: "Out of the Loop: Rahm Emanuel won't be Chicago's next mayor because the city won't elect a Jew."

Her history of Illinois politics ignored the fact that we've had two Jewish governors.

The New York Times article has been a big talker in Chicago political circles. A top aide to Mayor Emanuel has been tweeting about it.

David Spielfogel wrote: " this a book review, or a page-long manifesto by one person who hates Chicago?"

Even City Hall in New York is blasting the piece. Spielfogel re-tweeted this message from New York's Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson: "mystified by the offensive, mean-spirited and inaccurate attack on Chicago in the New York Times book review. A great city that deserves better."

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