No Blago Influence, Says Chicago Tribune

Wiretap transcripts yesterday indicated that Tribune Company honcho Sam Zell might have subtly conveyed (wink-wink) that he might just have to restructure (wink wink) one or more bothersome Chicago Trib editorial writers out of their jobs in response to demands from Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who was delaying a deal to buy the Chicago Cubs from cash-strapped Zell. Insanely, it has emerged that the whole thing was Blago's evil wife's idea ("hold up that fucking Cubs shit. . . fuck them"), but also that it seems to have gone nowhere.

One writer who was targeted by Blago said "no one in any capacity at the Tribune, its parent company, its financiers, nobody” tried to influence him.

The editorial page editor said, “I had no inkling at all. We had no idea that he was allegedly bringing this kind of pressure."

The editor-in-chief of the Trib told the Times he agreed with this statement put out by Tribune Company:

No one working for the company or on its behalf has ever attempted to influence staffing decisions at The Chicago Tribune or any aspect of the newspaper’s editorial coverage as a result of conversations with officials in the governor’s administration.

None of this rules out the possibility that Zell might have planned to cut individual people down the line, but that seems unlikely, considering how desperately he needed that Cubs deal to go through.