Illinois governor blasts 'faux newspapers' that ran reported partisan attack ads

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker blasted the publisher of a Chicagoland newspaper on Thursday after the paper published copies with what has been described as "partisan attack ads" against the governor.

According to Politico, local newspaper the Daily Herald, which is published throughout the northern Chicago suburbs, distributed "faux newspapers" with advertisements produced by Dan Proft, a conservative broadcaster and failed perennial candidate in Illinois. Although Proft is now a resident of Illinois, it was reported that he financed the ads through the Herald's owner, Paddock Publishing, as part of his company, Local Government Information Services (LGIS).

These ads were reportedly designed purposefully to slam Pritzker, who is running for re-election, in favor of his Republican challenger, Darren Bailey.

In a letter to Paddock Publishing, Pritzker's office said that it wanted to express "our extreme disappointment and utter shock" at the ads. "[LGIS] is the right-wing organization headed by Republican political strategist Dan Proft that is responsible for the onslaught of fake and misleading newspaper-style mailers that have been arriving in mailboxes across Illinois," the letter continued. "These mailers are specifically designed to mislead readers into thinking they are legitimate journalism when in reality they are unlabeled ads attacking political candidates. Many residents who’ve received these pink slime reports shared that they never subscribed to LGIS and had no interest in receiving them in the first place."

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The statement went on to say that "these fake newspapers represent an existential threat to quality, independent journalism–making it all the more unfathomable Paddock would cast its journalistic responsibility aside in the name of profit. By allowing these fraudulent mailers to share a permit with the Daily Herald, Paddock is actively undermining the good work that the legitimate reporters at the Daily Herald do every day to combat the rising wave of misinformation and fake news."

As a result of the ads, Pritzker's office said that it would be pulling out of an upcoming political forum, which is slated to be hosted by the Herald. Following the statement, the Herald released a statement of their own, saying that they had canceled their contract with LGIS.

"It was a business decision to take on the job. The perception among some has become that the Daily Herald is the publisher of these publications. It is not," the Herald said. "The company does not endorse the content of any of the print jobs it does for vendors, including many newspapers. It neither embraces nor condemns them. It merely prints them."

The governor is reportedly reconsidering joining the forum following this statement.

Proft released a statement of his own, saying that the papers would "continue to be printed and distributed even if we have to return to the Gutenberg press," and said that Pritzker "threw a tantrum and got his way."