On this weekend's edition of Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz led off the show with a panel discussion on the Blagojevich scandal. Kurtz billed his panel as a collection of "some of Chicago's top journalists." That panel included John McCormick, Lynn Sweet, Clarence Page, and Stephen Hayes. Isn't one of those names not like the other ones? Well, McCormick was Blago's bete noire at the Chicago Tribune. Page is a columnist for the same paper. Lynn Sweet is the Washington bureau chief for the competing Sun-Times (and the "new dean" of the Washington Press Corps).
But Hayes? While he was born in raised in Wisconsin and attended school at DePauw in Indiana, I don't necessarily think of him as one of Chicago's top journalists. I think of him as a writer for The Weekly Standard and as Dick Cheney's official biographer. Which is why, notwithstanding any connection to Chicago journalism that has eluded me, I'm not surprised to see Hayes attempting to apply an unrelated frame to the discussion:
FITZGERALD: We made an urgent request for the Tribune not to publish that story. That is a very rare thing for us to do, and it's even a rarer thing for a newspaper to grant. And I have to take my hat off that the Tribune withheld that story for a substantial period of time, which otherwise might have compromised the investigation from ever happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Would you have held that story? Isn't that colluding with law enforcement?
SWEET: Well, I think these kinds of tough calls are very situational, Howie. And in this case, if I suppose if you were convinced that a crime was in process, which is more or less how Patrick Fitzgerald portrayed this crime spree, I think you would have to. The other thing is they probably made a deal to give the Trib the scoop when they could get it. The Trib did have the scoop last Friday. So I would say if the interest of the newspaper is to have the scoop, and they were guaranteed that, then I could see why you would make this agreement.
HAYES: Yes. I mean, my first reaction when I saw Patrick Fitzgerald make that comment was to say, you know, it's a good thing it wasn't "The New York Times" and it's a good thing it wasn't a national security secret, because then we all would have known probably a lot earlier. I agree with Lynn...
KURTZ: Although The Times has also held up and delayed publication at the request of the Bush administration.
HAYES: At times.
KURTZ: I don't want to get diverted here.
More likely than not, what Hayes has on the brain is the Michael Isikoff piece from this weekend's Newsweek on whistleblower Thomas M. Tamm, who disclosed the NSA eavesdropping program to the New York Times. Howard Kurtz may not want "to get diverted," but it seems to me that the obvious thing to do is to impanel Stephen Hayes more appropriately.