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The [Thursday] Papers

It gets worse.

"U.S. Sen. Roland Burris had more contacts with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich's chief of staff before being appointed to his Senate seat than he disclosed in his most recent affidavit, phone records and interviews show," the Sun-Times reports in its print editions today but apparently not online.

"One of the calls placed to John Harris came Nov. 13, the same day Burris discussed the possibility of raising money for the governor with Blagojevich's brother, Robert Blagojevich, according to phone records obtained by the Sun-Times and sources. That call was likely caught on an FBI wiretap."

How does this differ from what Burris has said under oath so far?

"In the Feb. 4 affidavit, which set off a political wildfire because it dramatically altered earlier sworn statements, Burris acknowledged only reaching out to Harris once last October and getting a return phone call three weeks later.

"Burris depicted his discussion with Harris as having included a passing reference to the Senate seat. But sources say Burris made a hard pitch to Harris - as well as other Blagojevich aides about being named to Barack Obama's seat."

See ya, Roland. Been nice knowing you.

The Real Roland
"I've known Roland a long time," U.S. Rep. Danny Davis said on Monday. "People have often laughed and joked about how honest Roland was."

Well, people have often laughed and joked about Roland, that much is true. As for his honesty? The latest in our examination of Burris's crappy record is a look at Cate Plys's fabulous story in the Reader during Burris's 1995 run for mayor. You're going to want to read this, trust me. (Memo to Reader: Put the whole thing online, please. Link now added.)


COMMENT 1:30 P.M.: From Scott Smith:

Who's to say Davis is wrong here? Maybe the exchange went something like this:

Pol #1: Hey, there goes Roland Burris!

Pol #2: Yeah, good ol' Roland. The most honest man in Illinois politics.

[Pols exchange a look]

Pols #1 and #2: BA HA HA HA HA!

Pol #1: [Wiping tears from his eyes] Hoo! Good one.

Pol #2: I tell ya . . .

The Bright One
On the one hand, the Sun-Times continues its childish penchant for overblown self-congratulation by using the quote "Thank God for the Sun-Times" from House Minority Leader Tom Cross as a headline over a story about Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie's apparent mishandling of the latest Burris affidavit.

On the other hand, in equally typical Sun-Times fashion, the paper doesn't even put its latest scoop on the front page because, you know, they've got that big story about an alderman's proposal to install countdown timers at intersections with red-light cameras.

Thank God!
The Sun-Times conveniently forgets that it not only never told the truth about the way former publisher and ex-con David Radler overturned the editorial board's endorsement of Paul Vallas for governor in favor of Rod Blagojevich, but that it wrote this while endorsing Blagojevich - the protagonist of the Burris affair - again in 2006:

"There's no denying the cloud of scandal over his administration. One of his chief fund-raisers, Antoin 'Tony' Rezko, was indicted last week for alleged shakedowns for campaign contributions. More revelations likely will come right before the election when power broker Stuart Levine is expected to plead guilty. The governor said the charges against Rezko, if true, represent a personal betrayal by Rezko, and that he himself has never been involved in any unethical or illegal fund-raising. Our experience with Blagojevich prompts us to take him at his word. We've chosen to give him the benefit of the doubt and endorse him for a number of reasons."

The paper is proud of its scoops about Todd Stroger too, I'm sure. But it endorsed him as well.


Yes, at most papers the editorial pages are separate from the newsroom. At the Sun-Times, that largely hasn't been the case. Either way, editors there make themselves look like hypocritical asses when they slap their own backs for an imagined indispensability. That's not to take anything away from the few fine reporters still there; to the contrary, they are to be not only praised but admired. Too bad they aren't better served by their editors.

Oh Yeah, Resign!
One day after running an editorial asking Roland Burris for all the facts while everyone else had moved on to asking Roland Burris to resign, the Sun-Times editorial page plays catch-up today and, um, asks for Burris to resign. My guess is that they didn't want to go down in history as having never done it. The paper, though, takes the guise that Burris's appearance at the City Club yesterday was his last chance - and one he "deserved" at that - to set the record straight. Right. Like anyone expected Burris to deliver a speech that would somehow, miraculously, answer all the unanswered questions and, somehow, miraculously, rehabilitate himself. You guys blew it. Just admit it.

Say What?
John Kass this morning latches on to the strangest moment during Burris's City Club remarks.

"At the City Club lunch, the Roland standing before us said he wouldn't take media questions, but Jeff Berkowitz, host of Public Affairs, got one in about whether it was wrong of Burris to solicit funds for Blagojevich at the time Blago was considering Burris for the Senate.

"'I was never considered for the Senate,' chattered Roland.

"The crowd hissed, murmuring, 'What?' 'What?' to one another, clucking that whichever Roland it was up there was either bonkers or a liar.

"'I was never considered by the Senate,' Roland said.

"They hissed some more.

"'As I said in my statement, we would not make responses to those type of questions,' said the Roland at the lectern before stalking off the stage."

That's Stella!
"[A]nd [Burris] better study his script so he won't come off as a guy caught with his pants down sitting on a tainted seat."

This Reporter
Stella also informs us today that "Seldom do I pay attention to the stories circulating on the Internet."

You mean, like, the news?

Eric Zorn joins a slice of the punditry today saying that if Burris had only told the truth, he would have been seated as senator just fine.


So if Burris went to Springfield and said, "Yes, I tried to raise money for the governor at the same time I was lobbying to get the appointment" everyone would have said, "Okay! As long as you're telling the truth!"

I think not.

The whole point of sending Burris to Springfield, besides providing political cover for Harry Reid and Dick Durbin, was to make sure the appointment was on the up-and-up.

And the notion that it was a legal appointment no matter what doesn't wash. The idea that the Senate could have denied Burris his seat was never tested, but early on, before changing their minds, the punditry seemed to think the Senate had that authority.

Finally, the outcry would have been so great - even more than it is now - that the pressure brought to bear would have surely sent Burris packing. President Obama, for one, would have been under tremendous pressure to put his arm around Roland and gently push him off the cliff.

Burris's problem isn't just being dishonest; it's what he was dishonest about - the very thing we were looking for, and what only the most cynical among us could have imagined we'd find.

Programming Note
And there's so much more! But I must tend to business, or Roland Burris, like Rod Blagojevich and Barack Obama before him, is going to send me into bankruptcy. And I haven't even gotten to the 5th in any kind of serious way. Memo to Pat Quinn: Can you declare a week-long moratorium on news so we can all catch up? Or send me a winning lottery ticket. Scratch2Win isn't doing it for me.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Itchy and scratchy.


Posted on February 19, 2009

MUSIC - Who's Next In Chicago Rap.
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POLITICS - Big Soda Hates You.
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