With 16 days remaining until hundreds of diplomats descend upon Chicago for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit, NATO is working hard to educate world leaders on their host city.
But that effort may have briefly backfired.
A video about Chicago posted Thursday on the website of NATO’s in-house television news network, Natochannel. TV, could leave leaders fumbling the facts at the international water cooler.
First, there’s the matter of Illinois’ capital city.
“More than 60 heads of state and government will meet to discuss crucial matters of security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area,” a narrator’s voice says as the five-minute video plays panning shots of Chicago. “And so, the leaders of the member nations of the organization created by the 1949 Washington Treaty will meet in the capital of Illinois this time.”
What in the name of Abraham Lincoln? The summit was moved to Springfield?
Of course not. But the inaccurate Prairie Statements don’t end there …
“There was a good reason for this choice,” the narrator continues. “The decision was made by the American president, Barack Obama, who wanted this event to take place in the city he grew up in.”
So, the summit will be in Honolulu? Or Jakarta, perhaps?
Nope, still scheduled for Chicago, Obama’s adopted hometown, May 20-21 as planned.
Lastly, NATO is a bit off on the history of host venue McCormick Place.
“Another of the city’s assets is McCormick Place, where the NATO summit will be held,” the narrator says. “This symbolic place, created by the founder of the legendary Chicago Tribune, was built in 1960 and destroyed by fire in 1967. The McCormick center was then rebuilt to a completely different design.”
McCormick Place, built in 1960? Check.
Destroyed by fire in 1967? That’s right.
Rebuilt and redesigned? Also correct.
The problem? The Tribune was not founded by Col. Robert R. McCormick, owner and publisher of the Tribune for much of the first half of the 1900s, after whom McCormick Place is named, and who died in 1955. But the newspaper was founded in 1847 by James Kelly, John E. Wheeler and Joseph K.C. Forrest.
By early Thursday afternoon, the capital city goof had been edited out of the video at Natochannel.tv, though the errors on Obama’s childhood and McCormick Place remained.
Jennifer Martinez, Chicago NATO host committee spokeswoman, said her office had not seen the video before it was posted.
“It was an honest mistake and the second we saw it, we flagged it for them and they immediately changed it,” Martinez said of the capital city error, adding that the other mistakes would be similarly fixed, and Friday morning they were. “They’ve been nothing but amazing partners.
“Their goal is to help us promote Chicago to the international press … and if you look at it, it’s a very nice piece on Chicago.”
Complete with a nod to the city’s greatest international cliche.
“Al Capone made the city notorious,” the narrator says near the end of the video, “but today, it is clear that the gangsters’ days are over, and Chicago is rich in resources thanks in particular to the trans-Atlantic links.
“On the 20th and 21st of May, the Windy City, as it is known, will have the wind in its sails.”
Maybe, but the skirt on the Marilyn Monroe statue will no longer be flapping in it. Shown in the video as those words are spoken, Marilyn is scheduled to leave Monday.
On the bright side, NATO got the most important part right — the summit is in Chicago.