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Karen Stabiner Headshot

Pulp (Non-) Fiction: The Blagojevich Book Deal

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There's an old saw in the news biz: "If it bleeds it leads." Chop your grandma up, store the pieces in freezer bags, and mail her to the members of her mah jong club, and you make the top of the evening news and the front pages of whatever newspapers are still in business. Drive her to the local pool for her weekly aqua-therapy and always remember her birthday? Not so much.

All over the country, journalists and writers who have neither the time nor the discretionary cash to invest in job-retraining are doing what they have always done -- writing, searching for stories and ways to tell them, and more recently marveling, with decidedly mixed emotions, at the ever-changing world of print. That, and scrambling to find outlets that pay.

And then there's ex-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who just got a six-figure book deal from an independent publisher not for being the best governor Illinois ever had, but for alleged dealings so smarmy that he could easily win the bleeding lead award in the political chicanery division. He's getting six figures to tell us what really happened when he didn't, he swears, do any of the things that the rest of the world seems to believe he did.

A fairly cushy bully pulpit, with no one interrupting to ask embarrassing questions.

I have one: Who's going to buy this book, tentatively entitled, The Governor? I was in a crowded airport terminal when he made his farewell address, and if I had to pick a single phrase to characterize the response of people who looked up at the monitor, it would be "snorts of derision." Once we get beyond the ex-guv's circle of friends and everyone who works for the company that manufacturers his favorite hairbrush (is it still in business?), where are the Amazon numbers going to come from? Does Blagoyevich really believe that his fellow Windy Citier, Oprah, is going to have him on the show to defend himself?

I worry for him, but I might have a solution: Now that he's an author and not a politician, he would do well to think about that grandma in the freezer bags. A big fat confession, complete with reconstructed dialog and innuendo about as many upstanding Chicagoans as he can muster, stands a much better chance of selling than do hundreds of pages of "I wuz framed." Repentance or defiance, the best-seller list or the remainder bin? It's up to him.