Weather Updates

Vanecko word choice revisited

Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko

Richard J. "R.J." Vanecko

storyidforme: 41307308
tmspicid: 2733947
fileheaderid: 1655125
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: January 10, 2013 6:36AM

A reporter’s dilemma . . .

The journalist’s world of sorting out whose truth is truer can sometimes be heartbreaking.

It’s not easy being right. And it’s not easy being wrong. And sometimes there’s no space for humanity and sensitivity in between.

But when a pair of radio DJs trying to get information via a prank call to the hospital treating newly pregnant Kate Middleton, hospitalized with severe morning sickness, resulted in the suspected suicide of British nurse Jacintha Saldanha — I was heartsick.

In my early days as a young Chicago journalist in the late 1960s, early 1970s, reporters sometimes pranked to scoop: it wasn’t difficult to impersonate a cop. (Some reporters carried fake police badges.) I remember when it ended; an abrupt edict one day all such impersonations must stop.

I think we all breathed a sign of relief.

But it has also occurred to me that when you are young and yet to experience divorce and other loss, it becomes easier to report on tragedy with less sensitivity.

Thus, it made me think about a quote I used the other day describing R.J. Vanecko, the nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who has just been indicted for involuntary manslaughter in the 2004 punching death of David Koschman.

My source described him as a “bust out” — referencing an inability to support himself properly. Unfortunately that term can mean many things; many things Vanecko is not.

There is no description for the nightmare Koschman’s mother, who does not want Vanecko jailed for her son’s death, has gone through. Two words would not do it justice.

In reflection, I have a rather large lexicon at my disposal. I could have been more sensitive; described — rather than labeled.

Maybe someday we’ll all find a way to figure out whose truth is truer . . . and balancing a sense of skepticism with humanity.

The Ax man. . .

The removal of former top Obama adviser David Axelrod’s 40-year-old mustache for charity on the “Morning Joe” show Friday was given a thumbs-up by wife, Susan, but we have yet to hear whether the “mo” will have a return engagement.

◆ Hmmm: Wonder if Donald Trump’s donation of $100,000 was part of an effort to make nice-nice with President Barack Obama?

Rose’s Law . . .

Memo the Chicago guys worried if their pictures will appear in the new book by “Gold Coast Madam” Rose Laws: Better get a copy! There are at least two men whose faces have their eyes censored, although she describes them as “friends.”

Rush’em . . .

Sneed’s old pal U.S. Cong. Bobby Rush reminded Sneed that last week was the 43rd anniversary of the “assassination” of Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark during a surprise Chicago raid ordered by Cook County State’s Attorney Ed Hanrahan.

◆ Rush was targeted: “The reaction to Fred’s death set the stage for the election of Mayor Harold Washington and President Obama,” said Rush, a former Black Panther himself who hid out at Holy Angels Catholic Church during the shooting melee.

◆ Rush was flabbergasted: “Father Clements saved my life and last Sunday he walked into my church and joined me at the pulpit,” Rush said. “It was an amazing moment.”

Whither thou goest . . .

. . . is really when she’ll goest: Washington wags are reporting first lady Michelle Obama en famille are going to Hawaii, with or without the spouse, due to the fiscal cliff imbroglio.

◆ Backshot: In 2010 and 2011, the president stayed in D.C. until Congress was done for the year — but his wife, daughters and dog headed off to Hawaii before then.

Sneedlings . . .

Saturday’s birthdays: Kim Basinger (right) 59; Teri Hatcher, 48; and Sinead O’Connor, 46 . . . Sunday’s birthdays: Kirk Douglas, 96; Donny Osmond, 55; and Beau Bridges, 71.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.