The Chicago Tribune's editor, Gerould Kern, issued a statement today on how the paper had held certain stories about Illinois Gov. Blagojevich during the ongoing federal investigation into his activities:
The Chicago Tribune investigated allegations of misconduct involving Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich independent of the U.S. attorney's criminal probe.
As a standard practice, our reporters contact individuals involved in these stories for confirmation and comment prior to publication. Consequently, we contacted the U.S. attorney's office in the course of our reporting.
On occasion, prosecutors asked us to delay publication of stories, asserting that disclosure would jeopardize the criminal investigation. In isolated instances, we granted the requests, but other requests were refused.
It was revealed earlier today, as part of the indictment of Blagojevich, that the governor was playing hardball with the paper over its need for financial assistance:
Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field, according to a federal criminal complaint. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper's editorial board who had been critical of him fired.