How to Lose All Credibility in Media the Blagojevich Way

(Photo: Can I get this in a wallet size? Credit: jburwen.)

If you want to succeed in American politics these days, there are three rules you should probably never break: don’t disappoint Oprah; don’t pick a podunk running mate; and don’t screw the news media.

When our official state idiot, Rod Blagojevich, asked Illinois newspapers on Friday to help defend him from what he (amazingly enough) still believes to be an unfair impeachment process, his cheek must have been bleeding from how far his tongue was stuck in it. After all, trying to axe the Chicago Tribune editorial board was one of the things that helped the governor end up at the end of his political career in the first place.

I doubt he expected print media would run to his aid.  Why else would he be embarking on a full-court television press binge? According to a weekend of promos, today, he’ll give his exclusive first TV interview to ABC’s Good Morning America.  Except that–Oops!–yesterday he sat down with NBC for interviews on Sunday Today and NBC Nightly News, effectively screwing ABC.

And, of course, he’s thumbing his nose at the State Legislature by choosing to appear in person today on ABC’s The View and CNN’s Larry King Live rather than show up for the start of his own impeachment trial. If he expects any less blood to be drawn by Barbara Walters and company, he deserves whatever publicly televised throttling he gets.

I used to wonder what possessed Blagojevich to consistently slap in the face those from whom he sought favors.  Now, however, I watch with glee as he gives the world example after glaring, enormous example of how not to be your own best publicist. For one thing, his victim metaphors are ridiculous.  Comparing himself to Nelson Mandela is laughable, and likening his federal arrest on corruption charges to the attack on Pearl Harbor managed to piss off downstate veterans groups.

For another, his “cowboy” behavior (another Blagojevich self-reference) is losing him his legal team. When top attorney Edward Genson quit the governor’s federal case on Friday, he told the media, “I never require a client to do what I say. But I do require them to at least listen.”

Now the news is Blago’s hired a top public relations firm. They’re the same team that’s been representing official state widower Drew Peterson, so they obviously have a sense of humor. They’ll need it.  No amount of PR can make up for a client who thinks he knows better than the professionals he surrounds himself with (but, oh so obviously doesn’t).

Perhaps he thinks hiring a powerhouse PR firm removes him somehow from taking responsibility for his own actions? Makes everything all better like the waving of some magic political wand? I bet he thought the same thing when he hired that powerhouse lawyer. I wonder whether the PR firm lasts half as long. At least Peterson listens to his handlers.

As for those newspaper editorial boards? The following editorial responses published since Friday show just how much they’re willing to ride in and save our cowboy governor. Or more to the point, string him up. You can’t say he didn’t have it coming. Like my mom always said, folks, don’t shit where you eat…

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Gov’s plea: Save me, We say: Save yourself  (Chicago Sun-Times)
“Blagojevich should be afforded every reasonable opportunity to make his case, but if he declines to participate and the verdict goes against him, he has no one to blame but himself.”

Thanks, Governor (Chicago Tribune)
“We’re relieved that the governor of Illinois took time Friday to express renewed faith in the Tribune editorial board. One of the last times he voiced his thoughts about us—according to an FBI recording of Nov. 4—we sensed that he was distancing himself…You were correct Friday in observing that the Chicago Tribune has a history of siding with victims of unfairness. In this case, those victims are the citizens of Illinois—not the governor who repeatedly abused them.”

‘Poor me’ (Chicago Tribune)
“And when this diversionary attempt falls flat, then what? What stunt comes next? What will a fading figure who is determined to be the center of attention do to avoid honestly confronting how egregiously he has betrayed the citizens of this state?”

As impeachment trial nears, ‘bizarre’ is word of day (Bloomington Pantagraph)
“The real ‘sham’ is Blagojevich supposedly telling his attorneys he would step aside if he was causing harm to Illinois, yet steadfastly clinging to his seat despite the obvious harm—from the increased cost of borrowing money to the diversion of attention from other serious problems facing Illinois.”

Governor, do you know the meaning of “unfair”? (Eastern Illinois University Daily Eastern)
“It’s a good thing George W. Bush was in office at the same time. Otherwise Blago might look foolish…After six years of the same tired nonsense, the Illinois legislature is finally doing what is fair: Your removal from office couldn’t possibly come sooner.”

Sorry, governor, we’re not writing what you want (Galesburg Register-Mail)
“You have not acted in good faith. Your appearance on television Friday was, as usual, a sham filled with distortions and outright lies, designed to dupe a national audience not familiar with the details of the careful process crafted here in Springfield.”

Another helping of transparent buffoonery from Blagojevich (Peoria Journal-Star)
“We hope that no one in Illinois is falling for any of this. Rod Blagojevich has become a pathetic, self-pitying buffoon, a caricature of himself, utterly incapable of governing the state. The sooner he is gone, the better off Illinois will be.”

Seriously, Governor? (Quad-City Times)
“On Friday, he asked editorial writers to back his contention that he was being railroaded by his own party’s majority in the legislature. Good luck with that, governor. We’ll get back to you.”

Cowboy governor continues to fight with guns a’blazin (Rockford Register Star)
“Gov. Rod Blagojevich asked us to write an editorial, really he did, but we doubt he wanted this editorial…We’d like to see the governor ride off into the sunset, but that won’t happen until the Senate completes the impeachment process.”

Governor has a lot of gall to suggest lack of fairness (Sauk Valley News Service)
“Faced with his unfair pattern of governing, this impeached governor has a lot of gall to complain about purported unfair treatment toward himself…The truth of the old saying was never more evident: Turnabout is fair play.”

Our opinion: Proceed with impeachment without delay (Springfield State Journal-Register)
“In the case of Rod Blagojevich, the people of Illinois see clear evidence of gross misconduct and are happy to have him taken away. Governor, you have played these types of games with the legislature for six years. We hope you won’t be able to play them anymore in a few weeks.”

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