Rod Blagojevich's genius is the lead story in all of Chicago today, and the most shocking and brazen of the related charges against the Illinois governor is his pay-to-play requirements for President-elect Barack Obama's recently vacated Senate seat. That's the big one.
Just down the document, though, is another shocking claim against Blagojevich: That he lobbied the Tribune Company to fire editors critical of his regime in exchange for greasing the wheels on the proposed Cubs sale:
The intercepted phone calls also caught the the governor and Harris discussing the possibility of the Tribune Company's obtaining assistance from the Illinois Finance Authority in efforts to sell the Cubs and the financing or sale of Wrigley Field, the government said.
Blagojevich allegedly directed Harris to tell Tribune officials that state assistance would be withheld unless members of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board were fired. The Illinois governor saw them as "driving discussion of his possible impeachment," the affidavit said.
"Our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get 'em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support," the governor allegedly said in one phone call.
It appears the Tribune didn't fire those staffers, and that Blagojevich didn't get the chance to affect the Cubs sale. In fact, today the Tribune released a statement saying that "the actions of the company, its executives and advisors working on the disposition of Wrigley Field have been appropriate at all times."
“No one within Tribune Company has ever complained to me about the positions taken by our editorial board, or attempted to influence our coverage of the governor in any way,” said Gerould Kern, editor of the Chicago Tribune. “It should be clear to anyone reading our recent coverage of the governor and his administration that it is fair, balanced and factual.”
Thank Goodness. But it is a reminder that the governor's corruption wasn't limited to just the political sphere -- it wasn't confined to who gets Obama's Senate seat, and for how much. It hit sports, too. And this is only what we know.
It's the [expletive] gift that keeps on giving.