What Fresh Hell Is This?

January 28, 2009

The Trib Editorial Board Does It Again

I'll say this. The good folks on RickyCougarMellonScaife's editorial board have raised spreading innuendo and half-truths to an art. And sometimes they even just make stuff up!

Case in point. I read this this morning:
Lost in all the hoopla of the presidential inauguration last week was the fact that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald subpoenaed three top Obama administration officials -- Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod -- in the investigation of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, accused of attempting to sell the president's old Senate seat. Oooh, this could get juicy.
That was something I hadn't heard. So I went to the google and tried to look it up. That's when things got confusing. When I googled "fitzgerald subpoena rahm" I found this from late December:
The Illinois House committee probing a possible impeachment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich won't subpoena two incoming White House advisers, the committee chairwoman said Saturday, according to The Associated Press.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald asked the committee in a letter Friday not to subpoena President-elect Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Blagojevich's attorney had asked the committee earlier in the week to issue the subpoenas. Mr. Fitzgerald said any such subpoenas would interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation into Blagojevich's activities.

But that's the Illinois House committee. The Trib said that Fitzgerald subpoenaed Emmanuel et al. Then I found this:
As Barack Obama attempts to define himself as a new kind of president, the White House newcomer is finding it increasingly difficult to emerge from the scandalous shadow being cast by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Over the weekend, the U.S. Attorney’s Office released the list of subpoenas served in the current case being prosecuted against the Illinois governor.

The names of a number of key Obama White House players have found their way onto that list, a fact that could affect perceptions of the new administration.

David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, two key Obama advisers, were among those subpoenaed in the case where it is alleged Mr. Blagojevich attempted to sell Mr. Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder. Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff, was also served a subpoena.
The Bulletin is another right of center news source, by the way. But that doesn't automatically mean they're wrong. They say that Fitzgerald released a list.

But then I found this:
It appears that Barack Obama won’t escape the Rod Blagojevich scandal as easily as first thought. Two senior aides to Obama have been served with federal subpoenas, calling into question how closely the Obama transition team may have been tied to Blagojevich’s attempts to sell Obama’s vacated Senate seat
Hotair.com is a reliably conservative news blog, by the way (again, no reason to automatically think they're wrong). However, all good intentions aside, it looks like this is where the Trib stumbled. Take a look at the sentence above. It says that "(t)wo senior aides to Obama" have been subpoenaed. But look at the link Hotair uses to support that. Here's how the article starts:
Sweeping federal subpoenas of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration include requests for records involving David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, senior advisers to President Barack Obama.

Among 43 subpoenas released by the Blagojevich administration Friday, one from Dec. 8 seeks notes, calendars, correspondence and any other data that relate to Axelrod, Jarrett and 32 other people and organizations. [emphasis added.]
So who just who was subpoenaed again?

To read the Trib, Emmanuel, Jarrett and Axelrod were subpoenaed. To read the AP (the initial source for the story), the Blagojevich administration was subpoenaed about its contacts with Emmanuel, Jarrett and Axelrod.

So I asked the the USAttorney's office for Northern Illinois (Fitzgerald's office) for a clarification. Just to be clear, I wrote that the Trib's editorial board said the three were subpoenaed but that others had posted on the net that the USAttorney's office had posted a list of those subpoenaed and that still others wrote that the material was released this weekend by Blagojevich's office. And they responded with:
These reports you cite were based on information released by the governor’s office and not by the US Attorney’s Office – we do not comment on or confirm or deny any information about grand jury subpoenas– thanks.
It's looking like the Trib's editorial board simply got it wrong and didn't bother checking to get it right.


Bram Reichbaum said...

"These reports you cite were based on information released by the governor’s office and not by the US Attorney’s Office – we do not comment on or confirm or deny any information about grand jury subpoenas– thanks."

Oh, that old thing?

Well, if it was "released by the Governor's [Blago's] office", I'd take it with a huge grain of salt.

EdHeath said...

I started to comment on the last post where y’all talked about the Trib’s editorial policy, but could not get my thought’s together at the right time. I wanted to say something about how the Trib is a bit (just a wee bit) like the Wall Street Journal in that they both have very conservative and at least occasionally inaccurate editorial departments, and yet fairly good (ie neutral) beat reporters.

Who knows if the Trib has some kind of in with the US Attorney’s office in Chicago, and it is by no means certain that the Quad-City Times has all the information. Yet it looks like the AP did a reasonably exhaustive attempt to get all the information. Actually, Rahm Emanuel does not even appear in their list (as far as I could see) and of course it is David Axelrod’s and Valerie Jarrett’s records, not the people themselves. But the truth is overrated.