Government Attempt to Get Newspaper Editorial Board Members Fired:

From the government's criminal complaint against Gov. Blagojevich (some paragraph breaks added):

13.... b. Defendants Rod Blagojevich and John Harris, together with others, offered to, and threatened to withhold from, the Tribune Company substantial state financial assistance in connection with Wrigley Field, which assistance Rod Blagojevich believed to be worth at least $100 million to the Tribune Company, for the private purpose of inducing the controlling shareholder of the Tribune Company to fire members of the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, a newspaper owned by the Tribune Company, who were responsible for editorials critical of Rod Blagojevich ....

69. Intercepted phone calls reflect that Rod Blagojevich and John Harris, together with others, are corruptly using and threatening to use the powers of Rod Blagojevich's office as Governor of the State of Illinois to exert financial pressure on the owners of the Tribune Company, the parent corporation of the Chicago Tribune newspaper, to fire Chicago Tribune editorial board members who were responsible for editorials sharply critical of Rod Blagojevich's actions as Governor and, among other things, calling for his impeachment.....

72. On the evening of November 3, 2008, Rod Blagojevich talked to Deputy Governor A. Rod Blagojevich stated that he was concerned about possibly being impeached in the Spring and that the Chicago Tribune will be "driving" the impeachment discussion. Rod Blagojevich asked Deputy Governor A to check to see if the Tribune has recently "advocate[d]" that he be impeached. In fact, the Chicago Tribune recently had published editorials critical of Rod Blagojevich.

73. In another call between Rod Blagojevich and Deputy Governor A that occurred a short time later on November 3, 2008, Rod Blagojevich and Deputy Governor A discussed an editorial from the Chicago Tribune regarding the endorsement of Michael Madigan and calling for a committee to consider impeaching Rod Blagojevich. During the call, Rod Blagojevich's wife can be heard in the background telling Rod Blagojevich to tell Deputy Governor A "to hold up that fucking Cubs shit... fuck them." Rod Blagojevich asked Deputy Governor A what he thinks of his wife's idea. Deputy Governor A stated that there is a part of what Rod Blagojevich's wife said that he "agree[s] with." Deputy Governor A told Rod Blagojevich that Tribune Owner will say that he does not have anything to do with the editorials, "but I would tell him, look, if you want to get your Cubs thing done get rid of this Tribune."

Later, Rod Blagojevich's wife got on the phone and, during the continuing discussion of the critical Tribune editorials, stated that Tribune Owner can "just fire" the writers because Tribune Owner owns the Tribune. Rod Blagojevich's wife stated that if Tribune Owner's papers were hurting his business, Tribune Owner would do something about the editorial board. Rod Blagojevich then got back on the phone. Rod Blagojevich told Deputy Governor A to put together the articles in the Tribune that are on the topic of removing Rod Blagojevich from office and they will then have someone, like John Harris, go to Tribune Owner and say, "We've got some decisions to make now."

Rod Blagojevich said that "someone should say, 'get rid of those people.'" Rod Blagojevich said that he thinks that they should put this all together and then have Harris or somebody go talk to the Tribune owners and say, "Look, we've got decisions to make now ... moving this stuff forward (believed to be a reference to the IFA helping with the Cubs sale) ... someone's gotta go to [Tribune Owner], we want to see him ... it's a political fuckin' operation in there." Deputy Governor A agreed and said that Harris needs to be "sensitive" about how he does it.

Rod Blagojevich said there is nothing sensitive about how you do it and that it's "straight forward" and you say "we're doing this stuff for you, we believe this is right for Illinois [and] this is a big deal to [Tribune Owner] financially" but what Rod Blagojevich is doing to help Tribune Owner is the same type of action that the Tribune is saying should be the basis for Rod Blagojevich's impeachment. Rod Blagojevich said Tribune Owner should be told "maybe we can't do this now. Fire those fuckers."

Deputy Governor A suggested that Rod Blagojevich say, "I'm not sure that we can do this anymore because we've been getting a ton of these editorials that say, look, we're going around the legislature, we gotta stop and this is something the legislature hasn't approved. We don't want to go around the legislature anymore." Rod Blagojevich agreed and said that he wants Harris to go in and make that case, "not me." Deputy Governor A agreed and said that he likes it. Rod Blagojevich asked Deputy Governor A to put the list of Tribune articles together....

76.... Rod Blagojevich stated that "our recommendation is fire all those fucking people, get 'em the fuck out of there and get us some editorial support."

There's a good deal more factual detail in the complaint — have a look if you're interested. Thanks to Sean Parnell of the Center for Competitive Politics for the pointer.

Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
To those of us who don't live in Chicago - or, I suppose, other large cities - this is amazing and blatant.
12.9.2008 2:25pm
Crunchy Frog:
Never go after someone who has a bigger microphone than you.
12.9.2008 2:58pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
So a leftist doesn't actually support free speech?

Stunning development.

Sort of like when Harry Reid threatened ABC's broadcast license for airing "The Path to 9/11"
12.9.2008 4:05pm
Just John:
Gotta love Instapundit's snarky link to this: "THEY TOLD ME THAT IF PRESIDENT BUSH WERE RE-ELECTED, the government would try to get hostile editorialists fired. And they were right!"
12.9.2008 4:21pm

A few years back, Mayor Daley, who hates the Trib, was making noise about building problems, etc. with Wrigley Field that were more or less him trying to wield his power of the Trib.
12.9.2008 5:26pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Just John:
He's got a million of'em. And they're all right.
12.9.2008 6:57pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Big deal about nothing. Bush has trampled civil liberties for 8 years. For example, Tim Robbins has not been able to voiuce his displeasure of Bush because of the "chill wind" Bush has put on dissent. I know this because I saw this story on 10 different TV channels and radio stations and on 50 websites. It became clear to me at that time that there was no free speech in this country if you dared criticize Bush. If was awful what was done to Robbins and how he was unable to voice his opinion.

And, let's not forget Bush's climate of fear in the jihadi cricle. Johnny Jahiadi can't even call his paymaster in Yemen from a strip joint in San Diego because of the trampling on his civil rights. Disgusting.

Considering that, having critical editorial boards members fired is nothing, and not even worthy of a mention.
12.9.2008 7:25pm
sdfsdf (mail):
What shocked me most was that the attempt may have been successful. From the complaint linked in the post:

HARRIS said that he met with Tribune Financial Advisor the prior day (November 10,
2008), and that Tribune Financial Advisor talked to Tribune Owner and Tribune Owner "got
the message and is very sensitive to the issue." HARRIS stated that according to Tribune
Financial Advisor, there will be "certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming
and, reading between the lines, he's going after that section." ROD BLAGOJEVICH
responded, "oh, that's fantastic." According to HARRIS, Tribune Financial Advisor did not
acknowledge that "he interferes in that operation. . . but I got the clear feeling that, that he
was, uh, very sensitive to our concerns."

This is specific evidence. If the last commentor has any evidence that Bush used government money to pay news organizations to fire people, rather than vague talk about Tim Robbins I'd like to see it. At it says that the President of the Baseball Hall of Fame wouldn't celebrate the 15th anniversary of Robbins's movie Bull Durham because he didn't like Robbins's political stands. That's not remotely the same thing as a governor leaning on a newspaper to fire people.
12.9.2008 8:52pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
sdfsdf: I think Brian G was being sarcastic.
12.9.2008 11:42pm

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