Freedom of the press is often that key ingredient that separates the United States from less free and open regimes. Now we learn that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was working feverishly to have Tribune writers fired in exchange for government breaks for the media giant….
Politico’s been on top of the corruption allegations against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who in a 78-page FBI complaint, requested “something real good,” a payoff, in return for his appointment of Barack Obama’s Senate seat.
But Blagojevich, along with chief of staff John Harris, also tried exerting their influence over the Tribune Company, pressuring executives to fire members of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board, who were considered too critical of the Governor. Specifically, Blagojevich singled out deputy editorial page editor John P. McCormick.
In return, the state would make it easier for the cash-strapped Tribune Co. to obtain financial assistance from the Illinois Finance Authority, relating to the anticipated sale of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field. Yesterday, Tribune Co. chairman and chief executive Sam Zell announced the company had filed for bankruptcy. The sale of the team and field is considered vital for keeping the media company going.
On Nov. 3, according to a complaint which includes intercepted phone calls, Blagojevich spoke to a deputy about how the Tribune will be “driving” the impeachment process against him. During the call, Blagojevich’s wife gets on the phone and tells the deputy to “to hold up that f—king Cubs s—t… f—k them.” Later, she said to “just fire” any critical writers at the Tribune.
It’s during the same call that Blagojevich said that they should pull together articles, and have Harris begin talking to the Tribune’s owners…
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