Ex-Gov. Blagojevich Had Specific Target for Firing at ?Chicago Tribune?

By: E&P Staff

When former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested in December 2008, federal prosecutors said among the corruption charges was his attempt to get unspecified members of the Chicago Tribune editorial board fired in exchange for getting the state involved in the sale of parent Tribune Co.’s Wrigley Field ballpark.

Now it’s emerged at his trial that Blagojevich had a specific editorial writer in mind for canning — Deputy Editorial Page Editor John P. McCormick.

Recordings made secretly by federal investigators were played at Blagojevich’s trial Thursday and show McCormick was the target of his wrath. According to the account in Friday’s Trib by reporters Jeff Coen and Bob Sector, Blagojevich “allegedly agreed veteran writer John McCormick was especially unfair and needed to go as a condition of the state getting involved in the sale of Wrigley Field.”

Testifying for the prosecution for a fourth day, Blagojevich’s former chief of staff, John Harris, said the deputy governor at the time thought McCormick “was very rude to him” on a call that November before  the arrest.

“Harris said he told Blagojevich he was pushing Tribune bosses to give McCormick the boot when in reality he had only mentioned the administration thought he wasn’t being fair,” the Tribune reported.

No editorial board members were ever fired at the time, and all said at the time of Blagojevich’s arrest they were unaware of any pressure against them.

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