Friday, September 22, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich: Sex, Lies and Videotape

Revised at 1:45 pm on Friday to add video link to second segment [four minutes] of Blagojevich Presser]; Both links to Curry and Zorn, below, have links to full fourteen minute Blagojevich Presser.
The Governor looked into the camera, pointed his finger and said, “I did not trade a job to that woman for $1500.” Not really, but it would have gotten the attention of the folks watching the 5:00 pm or 10:00 pm news—almost as much as if he said, “I did not have sex with that woman.”

Instead, Gov. Blagojevich decided to break his vow of silence on the $1500 check which until yesterday, Blago’s staff had said had been given in 2003 to his older daughter, 7 year old Amy, by his friend of forty years, or so, former campaign treasurer and current City of Chicago worker, Michael Ascaridis. Ascaridis’ wife happened to get a 47K a year state job [initially located in a far-a-way county of which the woman had never heard, and after she failed the test for the job] right around the same time that the $1500 check was given to Rod and/or his spouse or daughter in celebration of their younger daughter, Annie’s, Christening, or at least that was the story behind the check that the Governor gave yesterday [See story by AP’s Deanna Bellandi, who now has the reputation of the fastest political writer in Chicago, and one of the fairest, of State and sometimes other political stories].

But, the real story here is that Rod was way off his game yesterday. In fourteen minutes of a video presser [See here (ten minutes) and here(four more minutes)] following the Governor’s announcement of millions of dollars in grants to combat domestic violence and sexual assault, the Governor took questions yesterday mostly on the $1500 gift, but also a bit on Wednesday’s Sun-Times story of a possible extortion scheme by Blago’s top political operatives to help the Governor’s campaign fund [and watch for yet another such story in this morning’s Sun-Times on the famous Blago funder in NYC? Did this trip involve, among others, Deputy Governor and former Bloomberg aide Bradley Tusk? (who has told "Public Affairs," [See here] he only does government, not politics). Moderate Republican NYC Mayor Bloomberg coincidentally has endorsed Democrat Blago].

Talk about deer in the headlights, it was like Rod just woke up from a three hour nap and was groggy and surrounded by the news media, all asking questions for which he had no really persuasive answers. Worse, he looked genuinely surprised to hear the questions—all which have been written about for a week. Who sent the Governor out there in that state of mind? What were they thinking?

Further, who shot the 15-minute video? Somebody from Topinka’s campaign? Very amateur. But, it works. The amateurish video, definitely not on a tripod, seems to accentuate the amateurship answers and bewildered look of Blago. Who is the NJKimme who submitted it to Youtube? Nancy Kimme? Kimme is Topinka’s Chief of Staff in the Treasurer’s office and de facto Campaign Manager for Team Topinka.

Then, take a look at the ABC-7 video [Paul Meincke]. Professional video and ABC seemed to use the better part of Rod’s performance. If you were watching on ABC-7 News and they only showed what is on the web site, not so bad for Rod. Advantage, Blago. Flannery had no video on the CBS-2 web site. Did he have a video on the CBS local evening? He should have—Mike hammered pretty well at the presser on the job thing. If Flannery had no news spot, Advantage Blago.

Same thing on NBC-5. I saw no video on their website, but Mary Ann Ahern was there asking questions. Did she have a spot? If not, advantage Blago.

The presser got a short mention by Ponce on WTTW's Chicago Tonight, but no segment. They blew that one. What else is new? They did cover the Feds visiting the County Building and coming away with boxes of documents. But, they couldn’t cover both? Advantage Blago.

You see how that works, boys and girls. The power of the media. If a presser goes badly and nobody sees it, did it happen? Yes, yes I know. There are the print media and the radio folks. But, still, Team Topinka is salivating for some reverse earned TV media, or whatever you want to call this.

But, it may be that CBS and NBC had video spots on the news. If so, I may have to take back much of the above. However, we would still have to see if they were closer to the images that came out of the full presser or closer to ABC-7’s spot. The medium is the message.

Send your comments to Zorn or Curry [both of whom link to the full fourteen minute Blagojevich Presser]. They deserve the credit. Curry had the link first and then Zorn picked it up. Me? I am just a recovering country lawyer learning from the pros.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at