Why McMichael was benched for last Bears pregame show
BY BOB OKON Sun-Times Media January 2, 2013 9:22PM
Updated: January 3, 2013 7:55AM
Football fans on Sunday did not hear Steve McMichael do his usual pregame radio show before the final Bears game of the season. His airtime was canceled because he’s running for mayor of Romeoville.
The former Bears defensive lineman from the 1985 Super Bowl team acknowledged he was benched because of federal regulations governing equal airtime for political candidates.
“If it’s the rule, it’s the rule,” McMichael said Wednesday. “I’m an American citizen, and I live by the law of the land.”
But McMichael contends it was a letter from incumbent Mayor John Noak’s lawyer that led to him being pulled from the show on WMVP-AM (1000).
“It was definitely because of the mayor’s letter,” he said.
Not so, according to ESPN and a lawyer for Noak.
ESPN, which has received a few inquires about the matter, issued a statement saying, “Once Steve officially filed to run for mayor we decided it was appropriate to not have him appear on our air.”
McMichael said in August that he would run for Romeoville mayor. But his candidacy did not become official until he filed petitions on Dec. 26 — four days before the Bears-Lions game Sunday.
Attorney John Fogarty, who represents Noak, acknowledged that he sent a letter to ESPN Radio 1000 on Friday invoking Federal Communications Commission rules requiring equal air time for political candidates.
“But,” he said, “I got a sense that decision was already made. What was relayed to me at ESPN is that, ‘We’ve already looked at this issue, and we’ve made the decision that he wouldn’t be on.’ ”
Fogarty said McMichael’s departure from the air once he became a candidate should not surprise anyone.
“It’s pretty standard procedure for radio and TV personalities once they become candidates,” he said.
McMichael said he was not aware of the rule, and the matter has prompted him to seek an election attorney for his own campaign.
“I want to see the letter they sent,” McMichael said. “But if it’s the rule, it’s the rule.”
The Romeoville mayoral campaign is a three-man race. Former Mayor Fred Dewald also is a candidate.