Of all of the unclear things about the corruption arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, to this observer the biggest mystery has been: why an arrest (instead of a grand jury indictment), and why so soon?
The arrest method, done just before sunrise on a Tuesday at the Governor's home in Chicago, was extraordinary all by itself. Federal prosecutors nearly always prefer to have politicians turn themselves in at a Fed office. This takes some of the onus off the prosecutor's office and puts it on the accused. Knocking on a front door (after a cell phone call) in the dark is simply unheard of for a sitting official of any import.
But something went wrong with the Blagojevich investigation, that much has been obvious from the moment of the arrest. Not nearly enough has been made of this in the media/punditocracy storm. While the gaudy, top-of-the-story lede about "selling the seat" has grabbed the attention, to the detriment of the attention needing to be paid to the surrounding graft and malfeasance, the actual taking into custody portion is still the bright light in the sky no one's looking at.
Clearly, the prosecution had much more to come, and with the network of wiretaps and surveillance blanketing the players, one would have hoped the Feds could have snared more than one of the miscreants right smack in the act.
That didn't happen, and a lot of bad acts didn't happen, didn't get recorded, and didn't get anyone busted.
Well, now the Wall Street Journal has come out with an article describing how it was our good friends at the Chicago Tribune who yanked the rug out from underneath Fitzgerald and derailed the whole investigation. Yes, that same Tribune so vociferously attacking Blagojevich while preening and congratulating itself for being a vital cog in the bust.
It even ran an article itself, boasting how the Tribsters showed such excellent judgement as they withheld a story to let the prosecutors go deeper into the sewer.
Except, they didn't. They broke their story prematurely, on the Friday before the arrest, and sent the cockroaches scurrying from the light they then knew was about to be turned on them.
It's hard to describe how enraging this is. If it's true, and the WSJ quotes the Trib editor responsible with words that indicate they knew what they were doing, there's a whole world of questions for the Tribune, not the least of which is: Are you a co-conspirator in this mess?
Yes, the obvious first conclusion is that the paper did what it did for money. Plain old greed. The paper's failing financially, and they thought they could grab a few more bucks by popping early.
That's nice, and credible, and fits nicely with so many of the Trib's writers sneering at corporations and their vile profit-driven amorality.
But given it's the Chicago Tribune, and Barack Obama is involved, any sane person has to stop, hold their nose, and look again.
The first thing that occurs to this observer is that the Trib is protecting their guy Obama. They've always been there for him, most grossly with the takedown of Obama's senatorial opponent back in 2004, when they used their front page and the credibility of their ostensible major news media podium to wipe out Republican candidate Jack Ryan. We're still waiting for the Trib to publish any credible evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Ryan, even these four years later, but that didn't stanch the flow of accusation cascading from the Trib's front page.
Now, with their man on the verge of "assuming power", as they so love to put it, legitimate scandals are erupting all around him, stuff that should have seen the light of day while big-time journalists were working their typing fingers to the bone proving that Sarah Palin is a stupid goof. The Blagojevich scandal cuts close to the Obama myth, but it's slicing up Obama's closest contacts, not the least of which is Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff (maybe).
We've already noted Emanuel's sudden and unusually uncharacteristic disappearance from the news media. There are reports circulating that he's appeared in numerous instances in the Blagojevich tapes.
Would the Trib have taken down the investigation just to protect Emanuel? For heavens' sake, that doesn't seem like it would be worth it, not if even gaudier busts were coming in the next few weeks.
I'm going to hold on before making up my mind about the real motive, but plain greed and saving the Rahm just aren't enough to satisfy.