The Chicago Tribune is off the hook (Not, you know. Necessarily in the hip, slangy way.) now that a recently-revealed document shows that no one at the Tribune Company was ever offered an extortion deal by former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s staff.
Back in late 2008, when Blagojevich and his staff were being investigated by federal agents, wire taps seemed to reveal a deal in which $100 million in state financial assistance would be offered to the Chicago Cubs, then owned by the Tribune Co, in exchange for favorable coverage from the Chicago Tribune‘s, whose editorial board was not exactly made up of Blago fans.
The taps also recorded John Harris, Blagojevich’s former chief of staff, telling the governor that he’d had a talk with the Tribune Company’s financial advisor about tweaking the Chicago Tribune‘s editorial. Harris informed Blagojevich that his contact had relayed the idea to Tribune owner Sam Zell, whom he described as having “gotten the message.”
Harris also said that the company was considering “downsizing that division or changing personnel” and implied that deputy editor John McCormick, whom Blagojevich particularly disliked, would be among those to leave.
Now, documents reveal that Harris was lying to his boss, and had in fact never approached the Tribune Company with any plans or threats or deals to alter staff or content. So, hey! Harris being a giant liar seems to have paid off for the Chicago Tribune. For Blagojevich, much less so.