Illinois Gov. Corruption Charges Involve Tribune Co.

09illinois2-600.jpgThis stranger-than-fiction election year just absolutely refuses to die. Curious what people are referring to when they say “Chicago Politics?” Well looks like we are about to get a healthy dose, and then some. You may have already heard that earlier this morning Chicago Governor Rod Blagojevich (bluh-GOY-uh-vich) was arrested on corruption charges for possibly trying to sell Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat (and people here are freaking out cause our awesome Governor might give it to a Kennedy!).

Apparently Blagojevich is on tape saying “Unless I get something real good s***, I’ll just send myself, you know what I’m saying [a Senate seat] is a f***ing valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.” Which, you know, is probably true in every state just not something as governor you necessarily SAY OUT LOUD. But it gets better! And by better we mean the newly bankrupt Tribune Co. is involved.

Says the Times:

Mr. Blagojevich threatened to withhold state assistance from the Tribune Company, the publisher of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, which filed for bankruptcy on Monday. According to the authorities, Mr. Blagojevich wanted members of the Tribune’s editorial board, who had criticized him, to be fired before he extended any state assistance.

And judging from the 78 page affidavit (via Gawker) it looks like he may have had a sympathetic ear!

In a November 11 intercepted call, [chief of staff] Harris allegedly told Blagojevich that Tribune Financial Advisor talked to Tribune Owner and Tribune Owner “got the message and is very sensitive to the issue.” Harris told Blagojevich that according to Tribune Financial Advisor, there would be “certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming and, reading between the lines, he’s going after that section.” Blagojevich allegedly responded. “Oh. That’s fantastic.” After further discussion, Blagojevich said, “Wow. Okay, keep our fingers crossed. You’re the man. Good job, John.”

In a further conversation on November 21, Harris told Blagojevich that he had singled out to Tribune Financial Advisor the Tribune’s deputy editorial page editor, John McCormick, “as somebody who was the most biased and unfair.” After hearing that Tribune Financial Advisor had assured Harris that the Tribune would be making changes affecting the editorial board, Blagojevich allegedly had a series of conversations with Chicago Cubs representatives regarding efforts to provide state financing for Wrigley Field.

Yeah, good job John! I’m sure the editorial staff at various Tribune newspapers will be thrilled to hear the Tribune Owner is sensitve to something (McCormick is still there by the way, and we imagine will be for some time now that this has come to light). Meanwhile, Patrick Fitzgerald is on the case. Says Matthew Cooper: “Take it from me, Gov. Blagojevich, you don’t want Patrick Fitzgerald on your case. (And what would you pay to overhear Rahm this morning?).” Jay Rosen points out that this is “quite a story the Tribune was sitting on, isn’t it? Will we soon have an account of what the paper knew and when?” That said, wouldn’t it be sort of amazing if layoffs at the Chicago Tribune subsided because of increased sales brought on by the reporting of corruption charges involving the owner of the paper?!