Posts Tagged ‘Rod Blagojevich’

WASHINGTON / The Fox News mantra is ‘fair and balanced.’  On some days, critics would argue that the network barely lives up.  But they apparently don’t even try on ‘Fox News Sunday’ say media analysts who watched the fledgling program today as the Sunday show welcomed Rod Blagojevich, the guest the program has  heavily promoted for several days.

“From the get-go Chris Wallace hammered Blagojevich as if Chris wanted to get him to incriminate himself,” says Seth Stein, a retired TV news analyst now living in Wisconsin.  “Wallace questioned the former governor as if he had the role of a prosecutor–not a journalist.”

The interview with Blagojevich was a big ‘get’ for the Sunday morning news program which is among the lowest rated of the Sunday morning news programs.  In advance of the interview, Wallace appeared on numerous other Fox News programs promoting the upcoming interview promising it would be good.

Last week, jurors refused to convict Blagojevich on any corruption charge he faced and there were 23 of them–including the much publicized allegations that he tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated when he was elected president.  Blagojevich was convicted on only one charge: lying to the federal government  five years ago.  Blagojevich says it is not true and he would appeal.

Blagojevich and his PR reps granted interviews to only a handful of media outlets–‘Fox News Sunday’ was one of them.

“It’s sad when a news outlet and a news anchor are more interested in making news than covering news that their judgment becomes clouded,” says Sam Black, a retired media critic who watched the program from Phoenix.  “Chris Wallace completely missed the story and it reflected poorly on him–not the governor.  He approached the interview as if Blagojevich was guilty.  That’s so wrong.”

On the networks own site, FoxNews.com, Mardan’51 writes: “I think Wallace went beyond the call of duty when He tried to Play Prosecuter on Sundays show! There is so much more to this story and they are trying to silence Rod in the worst way!  So to make it Short, I won’t be watching Wallace, anymore !!!”


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CHICAGO / As the newspaper with the nation’s largest combined online and print copy circulation, an editorial in the ‘Wall Street Journal’ gets a lot of reads and carries a lot of weight.

Many eyeballs must have bugged out, including those in the head of Patrick Fitzgerald, when the venerable newspaper called for his resignation.  Fitzgerald is the federal prosecutor who was delivered a stunning loss in court in the case his team brought against the former governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich.

Yesterday, Blagojevich was convicted on just a single count stemming from a question and answer session with the feds five years ago and completely unrelated to those much publicized corruption charges he smeared the governor with a super-sensational news conference nearly two years ago.

Fitzgerald announcing that his office will re-try Blagojevich, prompted  this harsh reaction from the  ‘Wall Street Journal’ which called on Fitzgerald to resign or be fired.

:If Mr. Fitzgerald doesn’t resign of his own accord, the Justice Department should remove him,” the paper writes.

(Read the entire ‘Wall Street Journal’ editorial)

Here’s a sample of the editorial:

A more triumphant outcome might have been expected judging by Mr. Fitzgerald’s bravura press conference two years ago, which he held following a pre-dawn arrest at the Blagojevich home. Then, the U.S. Attorney spoke of “what we can only describe as a political corruption crime spree” and accused Blagojevich of “the most appalling conduct” that would have “Lincoln roll over in his grave.” It was “a truly new low,” Mr. Fitzgerald told the world.

A truly new low would truly be something in Chicago politics, where money and power seem to be especially fungible. But even Chicago politicians deserve the full and fair protection of the law, while the Fitzgerald method is to abuse the legal process to poison media and public opinion against high-profile, unsympathetic political targets.

As the former Justice Department lawyer Victoria Toensing noted in these pages at the time, Mr. Fitzgerald violated prosecutorial ethics by speaking “beyond the four corners of the complaint,” to use the criminal law vernacular for the facts at issue, thus possibly tainting the jury pool.

But then, this was merely one of Mr. Fitzgerald’s extrajudicial public declarations. Another notable episode occurred during his pursuit (as special prosecutor) of former Vice Presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby in the Valerie Plame affair. At a 2005 press conference, Mr. Fitzgerald implied that Mr. Libby had obstructed his investigation into who leaked the former CIA analysts’s name, even though he knew from the start that the real “leaker” was Richard Armitage.

Then there was the railroading of Conrad Black, the conservative newspaper baron who was convicted in 2007 using the infinitely malleable “honest services” fraud law. The Supreme Court junked much of that law earlier this year, leading to Mr. Black’s release from prison. The jury had earlier dismissed nine of the 13 charges Mr. Fitzgerald filed.

This pattern points to a willful prosecutor who throws an exaggerated book at unpopular defendants and hopes at least one of the charges will stick, even as he flouts due process and the presumption of innocence when the political winds are high. If Mr. Fitzgerald doesn’t resign of his own accord, the Justice Department should remove him—especially after such other recent examples of prosecutorial bad faith or bad judgment involving Blackwater contractors in Iraq, the forgotten backdating accounting scandal and the late Senator Ted Stevens.

Prosecutors have vowed to retry Blagojevich this fall on the other 23 mistrial counts. But if he really is guilty, then incompetence alone is grounds for Mr. Fitzgerald’s removal.

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Rod Blagojevich trial

Rod Blagojevich and his wife Patti at the federal courthouse in Chicago.

CHICAGO / On the 14th day of deliberations jurors gave a hint that they may be deadlocked on some of the charges facing former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his brother Rob.

The 12-member panel asked a second question today in as many days.  Jurors wanted to see a written copy of the oath they committed to when they were seated as the jury in one of the biggest court cases in U.S. history.

They also wanted to know how to fill out the verdict form should they do not reach agreement on the 24 charges against Blagojevich.

The six men and six women jury have not asked much during the course of deliberations.   

Blagojevich, who has pleaded not guilty, is accused of trying to make money off his position as governor of Illinois for himself, his friends and his campaign fund. He is also alleged to have tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after elected president in 2008.

Federal authorities secretly recorded phone conversations via wiretaps.  Blagojevich’s attorneys claimed that those conversations were all talk and there were no crimes committed.

The former governor most recently appeared on Donald Trump’s ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ which airs on NBC.  He’s also done countless of interviews for media outlets proclaiming his innocence.  He did not testify at his trial, despite bold statements in the weeks preceding his trial that he would.  His lawyers presented no defense and postured that prosecutors failed to prove their case.

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Rod Blagojevich, former governor of Illinois and Rahm Emanuel, current White House Chief of Staff.

CHICAGO / With week number three of his trial getting underway, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is not saying a word about a report out this morning that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel may quit this year.

The report, in the British newspaper Telegraph, quotes a Democratic consultant who characterized Emanuel as being fed up with the “idealism” of President Obama and those in his inner circle.

(Read the report in the Telegraph.)

“I would bet he will go after the midterms,” the Democratic consultant told the Telegraph.

The consultant told the paper that Emanuel is trying to line up the right job offer to explain his departure.

But was there a plan to leave all along?  And this just an excuse to exit?

Just after accepting the top post with Obama, Rahm Emanuel discussed with Blagojevich the possibility of keeping his congressional seat “warm” for him for a couple of years, detailed in Blagovich’s book THE GOVERNOR. 

(Read about THE GOVERNOR on Amazon.) 

Blagojevich writes that although publicly Emanuel gave the public an impression that he was making a sacrifice to serve Obama as Chief of Staff, privately Emanuel expressed interest in returning in two years to his elected position because he was on track to become U.S. House speaker and he wanted someone who could occupy his Congressional seat until he could return.  

He wanted Blagojevich to appoint that person.  There were apparently discussions between Blagojevich and Emanuel about whether the governor had the authority to to appoint an interim replacement.  It turns out that an appointment could not be made and a special election would need to be held.

The report in the Telegraph appears to validate the truthfulness of Blagojevich’s account of conversations that the former governor had with Emanuel.  Emanuel has never denied or confirmed Blagojevich’s revelations in THE GOVERNOR.

“Gov. Blagojevich stands by what he wrote in the book,” says Glenn Selig, the governor’s spokesman.  “I don’t beleive it’s appropriate to offer further comment at this time.”

(Visit Blagojevich’s website at http://www.governorrod.com and on Twitter @governorrod.)

Blagojevich is accused of trying to “sell” Obama’s U.S. Senate seat.  He flatly denies the allegation. 

Emanuel, Blagojevich says, was told to execute a plan to appoint the daughter of his political nemisis, Michael Madigan, the speaker of the Illinois House, in exchange for  Madigan’s support in passing Blagojevich’s programs that Madigan had been stalling. 

The day after Blagojevich says he had given word to Emanuel to execute the political deal, he was arrested and changed with corruption.

Emanuel has been subpoenaed to testfity at the Blagojevich trial in Chicago.

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