Chicago Sun-Times
Inside the Rod Blagojevich investigation and related cases

Blagojevich: When I said the Chicago Tribune should "lay off," I was talking about firings

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Reporting with Lark Turner

Reid Schar brings up the Chicago Tribune portion of the allegations: that Rod Blagojevich, as governor, offered up state help for a renovated Wrigley Field but wanted members of the editorial board fired and more positive coverage.

It turns into a squabble over Blagojevich's use of "lay off," as Schar works to show that when Blagojevich talks to the public, he's not honest.

"You wanted them to lay off of you, right?" Schar says of Blagojevich

"Yeah, and all the other newspapers," Blagojevich said.

But then Schar reads a transcript of a Rachel Maddow interview where she asks Blagojevich if he ever directed John Harris to tell the Chicago Tribune to "lay off" of all the bad press.

"Never directed," Blagojevich tells Maddow. "Never directed to do any of that."

"That was a lie, was it not sir?" Schar says, referring to a recorded call contradicting what Blagojevich said to Maddow.

But Blagojevich says Schar is reading "lay off" wrong.

"I'm talking about firing people at the editorial board, that's what I'm saying there," Blagojevich says.

Schar shakes his head in disbelief.

"Is your testimony that you understood that to mean, lay people off? Yes or no," Schar asks this numerous times.

Blagjoevich: "Fire people at the editorial board," adding, to Judge James Zagel's dismay: "If you'd let me tell the whole story, I think I could clarify this for you."

"I wanted to communicate to them don't be advocating that I should be impeached while I'm going around the legislature, trying to help you guys get refinancing for your ballpark," Blagojevich admits he was telling Harris.

Schar points to an exchange on tape where Blagojevich discusses editorial writer John McCormick, after hearing, falsely, he had been fired.

"Would be great, if that were true," Blagojevich says on tape.

Did he say that?

"Another person I should apologize to," Blagojevich concedes. "Yes."

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1 Comment

When did it become illegal for a politician to opine on unfair reporting? The governor was making the point that the Tribune editorial board hammered him FOR going around the legislature (perfectly legal), while Tribune execs are hammering him TO go around the legislator. The hypocrisy at the Tribune is astounding. And this does not even touch on the revelation that Sam Zell directed an editor to go harder on the governor, presumably to soften him up for $100 million in tax breaks for the Tribune.

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This page contains a single entry by Natasha Korecki published on June 6, 2011 12:43 PM.

Blagojevich testimony: 'Unsaid' means don't say it was the previous entry in this blog.

Prosecutors: Blagojevich was banking favors, would have remembered school grant is the next entry in this blog.

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