Today just might be the biggest day in WBEZ.org history. My piece yesterday on Gaelan Kelly's interpretation of NPR personalities is going viral. Elliott Ramos and Linda Lutton mapped the last 10 years of CPS closings, which is freaking awesome journalism. DeRogatis has his top 40 albums of 2011, which gets picked up around the music internets and one more thing...um..what was it...oh yeah, a Blagojevich sentencing. So if you come to the site today and it is not loading, it's because we're killing it!
Judge Zagel gave former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich 14 years and a $20,000 fine. He will report to a federal prison in 60-90 days. He will appeal, but must still serve time.
This effectively ends the media circus around the biggest local news story of our generation. So many storylines and curveballs have accompanied the basic A-plot of a sitting governor arrested for corruption. It was a media editor's paradise.
And when this started almost three years ago, I remember we just bought a Flip video camera. We sprung into action. Actually, this was the first video we did on the Blagojevich story. Our WBEZ Political Reporter Ben Calhoun (no longer here) was covering the story and PBS wanted to do a TV interview with him. One problem, he didn't have a tie. So we got him one:
Looking back on it, that was pretty low quality. But hey, we could put video up online, quick.
Here's our entire body of work (video) pertaining to the story of the Rod Blagojevich. It's fascinating to watch these clips. This whole story is fascinating to me. It essentially was putting the system on trial, through a seemingly incompetent and corrupt public official. And it's not just the politics or the crime, but the way that this corruption story crossed over. Blagojevich became a national punchline, a pop-art sensation, a piece of parody theater, a contestant on reality TV. It became about appearances, autographs and sightings. It became all about him. And in a weird way, that's why he is going to prison. If you are a governor, it can't be about you. If it's a governor accused of corruption? Then it's time to grab your 15 minutes, in exchange for 14 years. With all the fascination, it's still sad.
As Judge Zagel said so appropriately: "your personality may not be entirely suitable for public service."
I can't wait to read all of Zagel's entire remarks. Historic.
We are live right now on WBEZ. Getting reactions and taking calls about this sentence. Join in, or at least listen.
B story: Is there a website where I can nominate photographers for Pulitzers? Cause Bill Healy deserves one for snapping this shot this Summer.
Bill swears he didn't coach Blago on this one, but I if he did, it probably would have sounded like this:
"Rod! Rod! Can you pray to the heavens for us? Put your hands together and act like you are praying...there ya go...and now give me a 'come hither' look. Yeah....hot! We're going to use this one when it's time for sentencing. We're going to use it a lot!"
There is other news? No way. I won't allow it.
C story: Now for my local Jay Leno segment:
Hey, the Sun-Times is going paywall! About time! They have to pay for all the ink used on those 44 point fonts.
Did you see that the Sun-Times is going paywall? Well, they have to. Because it costs money to reprint AP stories.
Did you see that the Sun-Times is going paywall? So wait, you are telling me that people weren't clicking on the "How big is J.Lo's butt" pop-up?
D story: So according to Procco Joe, the redistricting plan consists of all alderman coming in to a curtained-off conference room to present their thoughts on the future of their wards to two aldermen: Alderman Burke and Alderman Mell. And then, they wait. And Burke and Mell will decide.
I am still intrigued about the racial part - as Alderman Carrie Austin called Alderman Dick Mell out yesterday, saying he was talking down to black aldermen and treating them like, and I quote "plantation n*****." Maybe there's legitimacy to criticize Mell's treatment of black aldermen, but c'mon. Really? Last I checked, Alderman Austin was pretty high up on the aldermanic org-chart. She is the budget committee chair, right? You can't say that stuff if you are a public figure. I don't care if you are black or white. It amounts to profanity, right? And this is kind of a public hearing, right? Well, she can't be terminated. She's an elected public official. And there is no recall in Illinois. So essentially, public pressure is all there is to keep aldermen accountable.
Weather: I forgot which colleague said this, but great quote, "You know who wins when the weather forecast changes? Weather media. Cause they get to write another story..."
Sports: The White Sox are officially rebuilding. GM Kenny Williams threw that word out yesterday when news broke that they traded closer Sergio Santos. Next will probably be Carlos Quentin and now there's talk about John Danks and Gavin Floyd. So we will see a brand new team with a brand new manager on the South Side. And our former manager, Ozzie Guillen, is getting everything he wants down in South Beach. The Marlins signed Jose Reyes and they are in the mix for Albert Pujols. And quite possibly will land Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson. Damn, that would be awesome if it were happening in Chicago.
Kicker: The other big news coming out of the winter meetings is that the MLB is going to institute a dress code for media. So no more muscle t-shirts and flip-flops. If they outlaw stone-washed jeans and crusty polo-shirts, about 80 percent of the local media would have to buy new clothes.