In a baffling and somewhat troubling development in the Illinois Governor corruption case, Chicago TV station KHQA has removed two stories from its archives referencing a meeting between Gov. Rod Blagojevich and President-Elect Barack Obama regarding the vacant Senate seat. Obama said yesterday that he “never spoke with the governor” regarding these matters. The first story, from Nov. 5th, pointed out Obama planned to meet with the governor that day, and the second story on Nov. 8th mentioned that the meeting took place. A screen capture from the first story:
The KHQA website has removed both stories and issued a “clarification” that reads as follows:
KHQA TV wishes to offer clarification regarding a story that appeared last month on our website ConnectTristates.com. The story, which discussed the appointment of a replacement for President Elect Obama’in the U.S. Senate, became the subject of much discussion on talk radio and on blog sites Wednesday.
The story housed in our website archive was on the morning of November 5, 2008. It suggested that a meeting was scheduled later that day between President Elect Obama and Illinois Governor Blagojevich. KHQA has no knowledge that any meeting ever took place. Governor Blagojevich did appear at a news conference in Chicago on that date.
So now the news station is claiming they don’t know if Obama and Blagojevich actually met. Fine – why remove all traces of the original stories? Why not add this disclaimer onto the previous articles and leave them up? This is getting muddier and more odious by the hour. The news station’s original stories back up David Axelrod’s statement that Obama “talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names, many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.” I hope that station management isn’t trying to provide cover for the President-Elect, or worse, was pressured into it. If an innocent meeting did take place, then why not simply own up to it now ? We’re going to find out about it if it did take place, and the shuffling-around about its very existence gives the impression that if they did talk, there was more than just a list of names being discussed.
The cast of characters continues to grow larger as Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. admitted to being the Candidate 5 named in the criminal complaint while vigorously denied any wrongdoing. The taped conversations indicate Candidate 5 would, among other promises, raise “500 grand” for future campaigns for Blagojevich, and the US attorney’s office would neither confirm nor deny Jackson’s assertion that he was not a target for further investigation. I don’t think that statement is particularly helpful toward maintaining Jackson’s innocence, but we’ll see.
The poisonous backroom politics of Chicago is on full display, and we must remember that it was in this environment that Obama rose to power. Through Tony Rezko, he is linked both to Blagojevich (who has refused to resign) and to the miasma of corruption that lives in Illinois. More names will be coming, more Obama advisors will be pressed for answers, and 36 hours into this story, we have barely scratched the surface. I believe we have yet to receive the greatest shocks in this scandal.