Leak it to Sneed... | Bleader

Leak it to Sneed...

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If I were Michael Sneed -- and this is a day I'm glad I'm not -- I wouldn't know whether to be mortified or flattered by the criminal complaint filed Tuesday against Governor Blagojevich.

The climax of the long complaint is the section that has the governor's fertile mind churning away with ideas for how to turn his opportunity to appoint Illinois' next senator to his maximum advantage.

Two days after Barack Obama was elected president -- meaning his seat would open up -- Blagojevich, according to the complaint, talked the situation over with "Spokesman," an assistant identified in the complaint as the "official spokesperson" for the governor's office.

The complaint: "BLAGOJEVICH told Spokesman to leak to a particular columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times that Senate Candidate 2 is in the running for the vacant Senate seat. According to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, by doing this, he wanted 'to send a message to the [President-elect's] people,' but did not want it known that the message was from ROD BLAGOJEVICH.

"Thereafter, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Spokesman discussed specific language that should be used in the Sun-Times column and arguments as to why Senate Candidate 2 made sense for the vacant Senate seat. A review of this particular Sun-Times column on November 7, 2008, indicates references to the specific language and arguments regarding Senate Candidate 2 as a potential candidate for the Senate seat..."

Here's what Sneed's column had to say on November 7: "The latest from Blagoville is Gov. Rod Blagojevich toying with tossing Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who wants Blago's job?

"*It may endear him to powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan, Lisa's dad, who is Blago's political foe.

"*It would enable Gov. Blago to choose a new Illinois attorney general.

"*Hmmm: Even though this sounds like looneyville . . . stay tuned."

The complaint goes on to say that on November 10 Blagojevich and an adviser "discussed leaking to the same particular Chicago Sun-Times columnist" that the governor was "seriously considering" another candidate for the Senate seat. The adviser agreed to call the columnist with this tidbit (which the complaint says other "intercepted conversations" indicated wasn't true). But I've looked at Sneed's first couple of columns after November 10, and if the call was ever made to her, she didn't bite.

On the other hand, she begins Tuesday's column with this: "Hmmm: Is this the real deal? Is Gov. Blagojevich actually eyeing state Rep. Art Turner, a 25-year Illinois House veteran, to fill President-elect Barack Obama's" U.S. Senate seat?

One last nibble on the Blago apple?

Here's the thing. We must always consider the job description. If the governor calls Sneed and not somebody else, isn't that a feather in her cap? And if she comments that something "sounds like looneyville," isn't she showing the skepticism we ask of a gossip columnist? Sneed is paid, after all, to take the governor's calls.

But Gawker takes a much harsher view. Patsy? That's over the top, I'd say.

When Sneed returned my call she wouldn't discuss sources but she did defend her professionalism. "Hillary Clinton. I'm the one who had the scoop on her [appointment as secretary of state]. I've been a reporter 43 years. I pride myself on good sources."

As for Blagojevich, "There are times I wonder if he has some sort of bipolar disorder."

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