On Monday, Brandon Johnson assumed office as Chicago’s 57th mayor. And in grand tradition, the hot takes from outside of Chicago immediately started trickling in.
One curious piece of theater came courtesy of Fox News and is attracting attention online from Chicagoans the segment purportedly represents. The network, looking for the local Chicago reaction to Johnson’s first day in office, sent a conservative political analyst Gianno Caldwell to Rosie’s Home Cookin’ to speak with customers on Monday morning. This is standard for a general assignment news operation. Nothing too suspicious here. Local media, through the years, routinely recorded similar segments at Manny’s Deli, a favorite for politicians. But given Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s rapport with the Jewish deli, Fox News isn’t looking for a deep dive into the new smoked pastrami.
an eater chicago map of chicagoans’ favorite breakfast spots in naperville and it’s just blank— Leor Galil (@imLeor) May 17, 2023
Rosie’s, the diner in question, according to its website, is owned by Vietnam War veteran Lynn Lowder. It’s also 40 miles west of Chicago in Naperville, which is DuPage County. Naperville is not one of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. Apparently, Fox News didn’t want to consult with its local affiliate to set up a remote in Chicago. Fox Chicago sports anchor Lou Canellis would have been a great resource, given that he’s a co-owner of the Avli chain of Greek restaurants.
Before bouncing to the diner full of camera-ready veterans for live interviews, Fox & Friends anchor Ainsley Earhardt introduced the segment and a diner that just happened to be full of veterans ready to be interviewed. As she finished her intro, she said, “It’s in Naperville, Illinois, where Gianno used to live,” referring to Gianno Caldwell, a Chicago native and the former director of government relations for Naperville Township.
Gianno Caldwell is the same person that once ripped radio host Richard Fowler, a Fox News regular, for claiming he lived in Chicago, when he in fact lived about 20 miles north of the downtown Chicago in Evanston.
Caldwell begins by interviewing a woman who moved out of Chicago and whose father was a member of the Chicago Police Department. She and Caldwell agree that Johnson’s election was “shameful.” Caldwell has said the city’s elected officials are too lenient on crime and have let its citizens down.
As a Naperville resident, let me assure you that it doesn’t resemble Chicago in any way, shape, or form.— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) May 17, 2023
Going to Naperville to ask about the new Chicago mayor is like going to Delaware to ask residents about cheesesteaks or the Sixers. https://t.co/Q2fxkkLRU0
The odd segment then bounced to another interview focusing on drug overdoses and President Biden, glossing over suburban Chicago’s addiction crises that the local media have extensively covered. Hundreds of stories have been written over decades about the impact that drugs, like heroin, have had on the surrounding suburbs.
In a second segment at Rosie’s, Caldwell speaks to a diner sporting a Detroit old English “D” hat to bring the authentic Chicago experience to national viewers. He attempted to justify it by later tweeting, “People from Chicago, who voted in the last Chicago election, were in the restaurant and on the air with me.”
Gianno could have come to Chicago & found people of all different races that would have supplied him & the Fox viewers exactly the red meat they were looking for— Herb Lawrence (@Ecnerwal23) May 17, 2023
Instead, he went to the literal city that most Chicagoans use as an example of suburbanites that aren’t from Chicago https://t.co/AMmeGo4wua
Locals on social media lambasted Caldwell and Fox, following the segment. Block Club Chicago co-founder Stephanie Lulay reframed Caldwell’s tweet while reminding readers about the Evanston incident. Longtime Chicago sports anchor Mark Giangreco simply called it “rehearsed” and “staged.” Triibe co-founder Tiffany Walden tweeted, “Everything about this is sketchy AF.” The feedback from Chicagoans ultimately boiled down to people questioning the authenticity of the entire shoot and Caldwell’s and Fox’s agendas.
Caldwell and Fox News could have been more honest with viewers and found a diner in actual Chicago neighborhoods like Mount Greenwood and Jefferson Park that voted for Paul Vallas over Johnson. But the theatrics of filling a restaurant with plants was too good to pass up.