Blagojevich Threatened Tribune, Too
Add to enemy of a free press to incarcerated Illinois Governor Rod Bagojevich’s sins.
On Sept. 29, a Chicago Tribune editorial ripped Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich for his “notorious pay-to-play politics” and said the legislature should investigate whether to impeach him. Five weeks later, Blagojevich told a deputy governor that they should target some of the paper’s editorial page editors by telling Tribune Co. owner Sam Zell to “get rid of those people. . . . Fire those [expletives].”
This, according to a criminal complaint unveiled yesterday, was no idle threat. According to secretly recorded phone conversations, the Democratic governor had his deputies convey a threat that Blagojevich would block the Tribune’s effort to sell the Chicago Cubs unless certain staffers were dismissed. An aide to the governor told him a Tribune financial adviser suggested that changes would be made at the editorial page. But the journalist targeted by Blagojevich, Deputy Editorial Page Editor John P. McCormick, was not fired.
As media analysts question the continuing relevance of newspapers, prosecutors are charging Blagojevich in an extraordinary scheme to silence critics at the state’s largest paper — even as they were urging editors not to undermine the investigation with premature disclosures.
As it is, Blagojevich is likely going to spend a long time in jail and the Tribune is going bankrupt.