Thursday, March 15, 2012

Blagojevich’s long farewell: the former governor and fairness head to the hoosegow

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Blagojevich’s long farewell: the former governor and fairness head to the hoosegow
By Ray Hanania

Chicagoland television news covered Rod Blagojevich going to prison as if they were following OJ Simpson in his White SUV.

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 07:  Former Illinois Go...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
What is amazing is that the very media that hated and persecuted the former governor exploited his farewell to feed their ratings.

Yet, as I watched Blagojevich hand out autographs non-stop in front of his home and then the next morning at the airport at O’Hare and later Denver, I couldn’t help but feel that he really didn’t do himself a favor.

Blagojevich did so much when he was governor. And he had a right to be indignant at those who criticized him for the programs he pushed through.

What is wrong with giving Senior Citizens free access to the CTA and public transportation? Sure, a few might be well-off and could afford to drive limousines everywhere but most Seniors I know are struggling.

But somehow the people who hate Blagojevich, including the biased and unfair news media, convinced the poor seniors that they didn’t need that little benefit.

And there was Al Kids, the only program that many children in Illinois could turn to for affordable health insurance. What do we have for them today? Uncertainty.

Blagojevich was his own worst enemy, though. Either it was his ego or a media consultant with a bigger ego who kept pushing him to treat his trials like it was an election campaign.

It didn’t help him mainly because the media and the public officials who hated him were relentless in portraying him as a crook. He never did get a fair trial. Federal Judge James Zagel was far from objective. His own prejudices stained the case. Zagel is one of the most media-friendly judges on the federal bench. He sucks up to the media and has many media pals.

But what about his fealty to Blind e did cross the line? But 14 years in prison when criminals and killers are often released with less time served.

Maybe the worst part of this whole Political Peyton Place has been the rise of the former convicts who shoved their faces on TV offering advice. They’re not even worth mentioning, except that they are all losers convicted for real crimes.

Listening to them lecture Blagojevich about what he will face was an effort on their part to pretend they didn’t steal or commit worse felonies.

The media tried to spin the Blagojevich fate as a result of his battles with some of the state’s toughest and most experienced politicians. But I don’t really think it was House Speaker Michael J. Madigan who should be held responsible for Blagojevich’s fate.

Blagojevich did it to himself. Bad advisers. Poor judgment. Wrong decisions. And dealing with it all as if he were competing for TV ratings.

In the end, no one should walk away satisfied that somehow justice was done. It wasn’t done, it was violated on almost every level.

If Blagojevich is guilty, the news media is even more guilty. More hypocritical and even more corrupt. They just hide behind the First Amendment and hallowed principles of ethics that they frequently violate.

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 7:  Patti Blagojevich, ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
And this was all about media spin. But you can’t spin the media when the media hates you. Blagojevich’s high-priced consultant from Hollywood should have told him that from the get-go. But he did pretty well in all of this. The media did well in all of this. The politicians who hated Blagojevich and didn’t like his programs did pretty well for themselves in all of this, too.

It’s hard to predict what will happen. But if there is any justice in this world, Blagojevich will either get a new trial or the appeals court will throw out his conviction, giving him time served.

Pre-crime is something you chase in a Tom Cruise movie on the big screen, not in real life politics. Blagojevich didn’t take a dime. He had a big mouth, but what politician or for that matter what media pundit doesn’t?

Giving Blagojevich 14 years because he almost got away with committing a crime is just wrong. Maybe one year for all that he is accused of doing wrong. But balanced off against what he did right, one year might even be too much.

I wish him well and his wife, Patty, and his daughters well, too. The taxpayers never really lost anything in all this except for a waste of time. The only people who lost are his wife and kids. And that’s the real shame.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. Discuss this and other columns during his radio show on WSBC AM 1240 or in the Southlands at WCFJ AM 1470 radio on Sundays from 8 until 10 am.

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