Shocking. Revolting. Disgusting.
Those are just a few of the words that come to my mind on the heels of reading the 76-page complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago against Emperor (aka “Illinois Governor”) Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris.
But, especially as it relates to his alleged effort to oust one or more members of the Chicago Tribune‘s editorial board, a few other words spring forth:
Ignorant and naive. “Delusional” also may be an apt description.
Rather than focus on doing a better job as governor–now there is a novel approach to halting the sharp criticism he had been receiving from the Tribune–Blagojevich allegedly opted to try to engineer the firing of the people writing the editorials about him. As if the next round of editorial writers would suddenly, without justification, begin singing his praises.
Anyway, over 20-odd years in journalism, I encountered similar fantasy-land notions about the workings of a credible journalistic outlet. Others who ought to know better–public officials, police officers and business leaders–have displayed the same fundamental ignorance about how stories wind up in the newspaper, and who precisely is in charge of editorial content.
Sadly, more than a few publicists have displayed the same incoherence on this basic journalism reality. Each time, I would ask the individual if he or she had ever worked as a journalist. Invariably, the answer was no–or some token stint in the industry that was best measured in weeks or months.
Blagojevich should have known much better than to try to manipulate Tribune staffing (well, he should have known better on a lot of fronts). And with a spokesman, in Lucio Guerrero, who is a former Chicago Sun-Times reporter, he had a close-at-hand resource who could have given him relevant counsel.
Perhaps Blagojevich–and his similarly potty-mouthed wife, Patti–never sought the counsel. We’ll learn more as the case unfolds.
At this point, though, one thing is clear about Emperor Blagojevich: when it came to his lamebrained master plan of media manipulation, nobody had the sense to tell him he was wearing no clothes.