How to describe the news in 2017? Never dull? Widely varied? A constant stress? We’ll let the top stories for each month speak for themselves.
In April, airline customer service and overbooked flights became a hot topic after a United Airlines passenger was dragged off a flight after refusing to be “involuntarily bumped” to make room for airline employees.
Many tragic stories resonated with readers, including the death of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins in a hotel freezer in Rosemont in September and the May story about a Naperville teen’s suicide after a school disciplinary incident. In July, Tribune reporters discovered via records that a Republican donor and operative who sought Hillary Clinton’s missing emails from Russian hackers had killed himself in May only days after talking to The Wall Street Journal about his efforts.
At the beginning of 2017, then-Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was body-shamed after his wife posted photos from their vacation to her Instagram. And at the end of 2017, amid an inundation of news about sexual misconduct in entertainment, politics and journalism, a Tribune columnist started a conversation about exactly why women make themselves look more attractive if they also don’t want to be hit on.
Here you’ll find the tragic, the uplifting and the entertaining: our most-read stories for 2017.


Trump administration forbids CDC officials from using 7 words and phrases

In mid-December, the Trump administration informed agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services that they should avoid using certain words in next year’s budget documents. According to The Washington Post, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, these words are: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” A second HHS agency also received guidance about using “entitlement,” “diversity” and “vulnerable,” according to an official.
Additionally, an HHS agency was told to use “Obamacare” instead of Affordable Care Act, and to use “exchanges” instead of “marketplaces” in relation to where people can purchase health insurance. HHS has also removed information about LGBT Americans from its website. At the State Department, meanwhile, certain documents now refer to sex education as “sexual risk avoidance.”


Heidi Stevens column: Why do women get all attractive if they don’t want to be harassed? Glad you asked

Amid constant news about sexual harassment and assault allegations in politics, journalism and entertainment, a reader emailed Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens, asking why women make themselves more attractive if they are opposed to being hit on. Stevens turned her response into an honest conversation about “all the ways we have taken women’s bodies and turned them into vessels,” whether it’s for political, marketing or other purposes, often detaching women’s humanity in the process.


Dana Perino commentary: Why George W. Bush stood there and took the wrath of a soldier’s mom. Listen up, Donald Trump.

The top story for October 2017 was also the No. 3 story for August 2016. Why the resurgence? In October, after 4 U.S. soldiers were killed in Niger, President Donald Trump’s condolence call to an Army soldier’s widow topped the news, with claims that he was disrespectful and did not remember the slain soldier’s name. Trump rejected the claims, saying he has “one of the great memories of all time.” In response, this Dana Perino op-ed made the rounds again, more than a year after it was published.


Young woman from Chicago found dead in walk-in freezer at Rosemont hotel

The death of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins, who was found dead inside a walk-in freezer at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont on Sept. 10, 2017, dominated the Tribune’s most-read stories in September. The Cook County medical examiner’s office later ruled that Jenkins’ death was an accident. She died of hypothermia from exposure to cold in a walk-in freezer, its report said, while alcohol intoxication and the use of a drug for treating epilepsy and migraines were “significant contributing factors.” Rosemont authorities closed the investigation into Jenkins’ death in October.


Rex Huppke column: An apology to Donald Trump, from the ‘fake news’ media

In case you couldn’t tell, Tribune columnist Rex Huppke wasn’t writing an actual apology to President Trump. This opinion piece addresses Trump’s rally in Phoenix, his response to violence in Charlottesville and the amount of his understanding about what “clean coal” is, among other things.


John Kass column: What to do with a broken Illinois: Dissolve the Land of Lincoln

Before Illinois politicians passed a state budget in July for the first time in two years, Tribune columnist John Kass argued in June that our beloved Illinois proved that it just doesn’t deserve to survive. His suggestion? Why not let our friendly neighbors such as Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and Kentucky just take the parts they want?


School disciplinary incident ends with a Naperville teen’s suicide: ‘They scared him to death’

Naperville police suspected that a student had a recording on his phone of a consensual sexual encounter with a 16-year-old classmate and had possibly played it for friends, wrote reporter Stacy St. Clair. After being questioned about possessing and possibly sharing “child pornography” and allegedly threatened that he’d be put on the state’s sex offender registry, the 16-year-old boy was left alone to wait for his mother. He left the school, walked nearly a mile to downtown Naperville and committed suicide by falling from the top of a parking deck.


Video shows United Airlines’ passenger dragged off plane

A 30-second video of a United Airlines passenger being dragged from his seat and bloodied on an overbooked flight at O’Hare International Airport sparked outrage over treatment of customers as well as airlines’ practice of overbooking, wrote Tribune reporters Ally Marotti and Lauren Zumbach. David Dao, 69, was one of four passengers who were picked to be involuntarily bumped to make room for airline employees. When Dao refused to leave the plane, the airline called in Chicago Aviation Department officers, who dragged him off the flight. A bit later, Dao reached a settlement with United.


Man who beat murder case killed minutes after leaving jail

A man who beat his murder case when prosecutors failed to give him a speedy trial was killed minutes after leaving Cook County Jail, Tribune reporters Peter Nickeas and Steve Schmadeke wrote. Kamari Belmont, 23, was a few blocks from the jail when a white SUV pulled up and someone inside started shooting, police said. Belmont collapsed in the street and died at the scene.


Rahm Emanuel: Too many Dems care more about being right than winning

Rahm Emanuel warned Democrats they need to “take a chill pill” and realize that they are not going to take back national power anytime soon, wrote reporter Kim Janssen “It ain’t gonna happen in 2018,” Chicago’s mayor said at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in California in February.

Copyright © 2017, Chicago Tribune


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