[Illinois] Gov. Rod Blagojevich [D] stood outside the Tribune Tower on Monday and offered what he called "a polite recommendation" for how the Tribune could weather its financial woes: Fire the editorial board. People have stopped buying and reading the paper, he said, because they're turned off by the editorial page, which has been harshly critical of the governor.
On Tuesday, U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald alleged that Blagojevich had made the suggestion before, and not politely. Instructing his chief of staff about negotiations with Tribune officials who hoped to sell Wrigley Field with financial assistance from the state, Blagojevich spelled out his terms: "Fire all those [expletive] people, get 'em the [expletive] out and get us some editorial support."
That message was relayed to Tribune officials in early November, according to an affidavit attached to the federal indictment against Blagojevich and chief of staff John Harris. But Tuesday's news release was the first we'd heard of it. The editorial board has continued its criticism of the governor, whose ability to govern was irreparably compromised long before he was charged with a crime. We plan to keep it up. There has never been so much as a whisper, from Tribune CEO Sam Zell or anyone else, that we should lay off the governor, and for this we are deeply grateful. ...
Selling the Cubs is a key step in the Tribune Co.'s financial strategy. But the integrity of the editorial page is not for sale.