Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Media, Blogs Are All Atwitter About Tribune,
Sam Zell and Gov. Blagojevich

From Romenesko:

Editorial writer targeted by Blagojevich wasn't pressured by Tribune bosses
Reflections of a Newsosaur
Chicago Tribune editorial writer John McCormick (left) says no one at Tribune tried to influence the tough stance taken by him and his editorial board colleagues against Gov. Rod Blagojevich. "The feds say somebody wielding power and money tried to muscle Tribune Co. at a difficult time for our industry – and didn't get away with it," McCormick e-mails Alan Mutter. "The Tribune Co. was the object of a huge extortion attempt and didn't budge." || Earlier: Blagojevich singled out editorial writer McCormick.
> Who knew editorial writers were so important?
> Blagojevich bust makes Zell look a bit better today
> Read the editorials that angered Blagojevich

Chicago Tribune says it held some stories at U.S. Attorney's request
Tribune editor Gerould Kern (left) says in a statement: "On occasion, prosecutors asked us to delay publication of stories [about allegations of misconduct involving Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich], asserting that disclosure would jeopardize the criminal investigation. In isolated instances, we granted the requests, but other requests were refused." || Chicago Tribune: U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald thanked the Tribune Tuesday for not reporting some aspects of his probe.
> Sun-Times' Sneed outed as Blago's favorite patsy

Blagojevich was told a Tribune exec would be "going after" the editorial section
Chicago Sun-Times | NYTimes.com
In a Nov. 11 intercepted call, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was told by his chief of staff that a "Tribune Financial Advisor" talked to Sam Zell and Zell "got the message [about the editorial board] and is very sensitive to the issue." The chief of staff told the governor that according to Tribune Financial Advisor, there would be "certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming and, reading between the lines, he's going after that section." Blagojevich allegedly responded: "Oh. That's fantastic." || Floyd Norris comments on this.

Littwin: "Every self-respecting newspaper person that I know would enjoy seeing Zell fall, but..."
Rocky Mountain News
"We don't have that luxury anymore," writes Mike Littwin, whose newspaper is on the block. "The problem is, as much as I'd like to gloat [about Sam Zell's problems], I can't find it in me. Apparently it's hard to gloat and work on your resume at the same time. I hate that. But I hate even more that there is so much wrong with today's financial model for newspapers -- this was where Zell was absolutely right -- and that no one seems to have any idea what to do about it."
> Tribune's woes don't stop Abrams from cranking out another "think piece"

Analyst: Zell mortgaged the future of Tribune employees to pursue "a childhood fantasy"
NYTimes.com DealBook
"The employees were put in a very bad situation," says analyst Jack Newman. He noted long before Monday's bankruptcy filing: "If there is a problem with the company, most of the risk is on the employees, as Sam Zell will not own Tribune shares. The cash will come from the sweat equity of the employees of Tribune."
> LATer: "No love lost between employees here and Zell"
> Bankruptcy looks like just another phase in Zell's strategy
> Filing won't make things much worse -- or improve things
> Ebert: At least Lord Black was a newspaperman with taste
> Tribune's letter to advertisers | Tribune story | LAT story
> Odds stacked against Tribune from the moment Zell bought it

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