Earl Bush, Press Secretary of First Chicago Mayor Daley, Dead at 90

By: E&P Staff

Earl Bush, who became famous for his plea to reporters to clean up the often-tangled utterances of the Chicago’s first Mayor Daley, has died at age 90, Chicago newspapers reported Friday.

Bush had a long career both as a newspaper reporter and a press secretary and political advisor to Richard J. Daley, but the Chicago obituaries focused first on something he told the City Hall press corps after Daley made another of the malapropisms he was famous for.

“Don’t print what he said,” Bush told the reporters. “Print what he meant.”

It was such a perfect quote that even at his death there was some dispute about exactly in what context it was said, and how often Bush said it.

The Chicago Tribune, in an obit by staff Trevor Jensen said it came when the late mayor misdelivered a passage in a speech Bush had written. The mayor was supposed to say, “We shall reach greater and greater plateaus of achievement.”

Instead, he intoned, “We shall reach greater and greater platitudes of achievement.”

But while the rival Chicago Sun-Times, in an obit by political reporter Scott Fornek, told the same story, quoting Bush’s surviving son Larry, it also noted that some City Hall veterans recall it as “Mr. Bush’s regular refrain to reporters.” Others, Fornek added, say it followed Daley’s famous defense of police tactics during the 1968 Democratic National Convention: “The policeman isn’t there to create disorder. The policeman is there to preserve disorder.”

Bush served as Daley’s press secretary from 1955 to 1973.

A native Chicagoan, he began his career as a police reporter at the City News Bureau, where he covered gangster Al Capone’s court appearances.

He worked at the Chicago Sun-Times and the old Chicago Daily News, and founded a news agency for suburban Chicago news called the Community News Bureau.

He was fired as press secretary when it emerged he was the real owner of an advertising agency that held a contract at O’Hare International Airport. He was indicted for mail fraud because of that deal, convicted and sentenced first to prison and then to probation. The conviction was later overturned.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley called Bush “a dedicated public servant to the city of Chicago … (whose) contributions to civic life will be missed.”

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