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NATO Video On Chicago Gets Some Important Facts Wrong

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The skyscraper formerly known as the Sears Tower. (Credit: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

The skyscraper formerly known as the Sears Tower. (Credit: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Is the NATO Summit happening at McCormick Place in Chicago in a couple of weeks like we’ve been hearing all this time?

Or is the summit being held in Springfield?

Or Honolulu?

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Grzanich reports

Listen to the narration of a video recently posted by NATO about the upcoming summit, and it might be hard to tell.

In the video, a female voice with a British accent says: “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. The decision was made by the American president, Barack Obama. He wanted this event to take place in the city he grew up in.”

Now, when Illinois was admitted to the United States in 1818, the capital was Kaskaskia – a town which has now been reduced to a community of 14 people. The capital was moved to Vandalia in 1820, and finally to Springfield on July 4, 1837.

But while Chicago is often called the capital of the Midwest, it has never been the capital of Illinois.

As for President Obama, he was born in 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, and lived there until he was 18 years old except for a few years in Indonesia. He went to college at Occidental College in Los Angeles and Columbia University in New York, and didn’t come to Chicago until the mid-1980s, when he began work as a community organizer on the city’s Far South Side.

The video also contains an error about the Chicago Tribune in its description of McCormick Place. The narration correctly points out that McCormick Place opened in 1960, destroyed by fire in 1967, and rebuilt with a new design afterward.

But it also says the convention hall was “created by the founder of the legendary Chicago Tribune.”

That would have been difficult, given that Tribune founders James Kelly, John E. Wheeler and Joseph K.C. Forrest were long dead by 1960. The legendary and controversial Col. Robert McCormick took over as publisher of the Tribune in the 1920s, and was not even born until 33 years after the newspaper was founded.

Furthermore, Col. McCormick did not really create McCormick Place either. He was a longtime advocate of a lakeside convention center, but the State of Illinois was actually in charge of its construction. McCormick died in 1955, five years before the convention center that bears his name even opened.

And there are still more complaints about the video. Chicagoist points out that the video featured a shot of Seward Johnson’s Marilyn Monroe statue in Pioneer Court, which is coming down on Monday and will soon be moved to Palm Springs, Calif.

Chicagoist also points out that blues legend Buddy Guy appears as the narrator talks about the “legendary jazz music of Chicago.”

But to its credit, the video has a lot of nice things to say about Chicago.

“If there’s one place in the United States where Europeans can feel at home, it’s Chicago,” the narrator says. “Its population of over 2.6 million includes immigrants from Romania, Poland, Greece, Turkey, Portugal and Italy, as well as other NATO nation diasporas – a melting pot, which enriches the culture, the streets and the architecture of the city.”

The YouTube version of the video had been taken “private” as of Friday morning, and the video did not appear to be available on NATOChannel.tv as of Friday morning either.

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