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Jonathan Alter’s many connections to White House & Chicago politics

By Laurie Bennett

April 12, 2011 at 5:23am

On Monday, after several media outlets announced his resignation from Newsweek, columnist Jonathan Alter tweeted that he was “going someplace terrific and it will be announced soon.”

In his 28 years at the magazine, Alter has built an extensive network of sources and colleagues. But he also comes from a very connected family in the very connected city of Chicago.

His mother, Joanne Alter, was an early advocate for women in politics, pushing then-Mayor Richard J. Daley to support more female candidates. She was the first woman elected to county-wide office, holding a seat on the Metropolitan Sanitary District board.

Jonathan Alter
Jonathan Alter

She also was a founder of Working in the Schools, a tutoring program for Chicago’s at-risk youth.

President Lyndon Johnson named her as a delegate to the United Nations conference on women in 1968. She ran unsuccessful campaigns for lieutenant governor in 1976 and Cook County clerk in 1990.

She and her husband, James Alter, were fundraisers for Barack Obama’s 2004 Senate campaign. Joanne Alter died at age 81 in 2008, five days after casting her vote for Obama.

Jonathan Alter’s sister Jamie and her husband, Michael Lynton, were fundraisers for Obama’s presidential run. Lynton is chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and holds board seats at such influential organizations as the Rand Corporation and the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

As if those connections weren’t enough, Alter is married to Emily Lazar, a producer for the Colbert Report.

So while the media world eagerly awaits word of Alter’s next job in journalism, we suggest that he could also be considering a role in the 2012 campaign, or with one of the many Chicagoans holding high posts in the Obama administration.

Few people are better positioned.

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