Sunday, July 24, 2005

We get it, Mr. Finke: Blagojevich is a publicity hound

It's Sunday, and Doug Finke, Copley Press' statehouse columnist, is once again complaining about Gov. Rod Blagojevich behaving the way virtually every other politician behaves.

The latest version of this oft-repeated scenario has Blago criticizing video game violence, specifically the latest version of "Grand Theft Auto." Legislation was drafted, and Blago promised to sign it. But the signing was cancelled, says Finke, because all the scandals coming out of Chicago will knock the signing off the front pages. But all is not lost for Blago. The CBS Evening News did a segment on the issue and Blago agreed to an interview.

Gee, it's like the guy might run for office some day.

There's a story like this in virtually every Sunday column that Doug Finke writes and the Journal Star prints.

We get it: Blago likes publicity. He does press conferences. He gets interviewed on national television. It may come as a shock to Mr. Finke, but Blago is hardly the only politician afflicted with a love for seeing his name in print and his face on television. I'm fairly certain that George Ryan and Jim Edgar held an occasional press conference during their careers, because I've been to a few of 'em.

Yet week after week, Finke makes it the main point of his weekly column.

There's a lot of news coming out of Springfield. I know because I read the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times. The Chicago Tribune's John Kass writes about the "Combine," a partnership between the Chicago Machine and the Illinois GOP to basically share power in Illinois.

Copley -- the California-based newspaper chain that owns the Journal Star and the State Journal-Register in Springfield -- has four reporters covering the capitol, yet there's maybe one or two articles a day about state politics in the Journal Star. And one of those articles is Finke's Sunday column that seems to exist these days for the purpose of raising Blago's "negatives," rather than raising readers' awareness of the substance of what is going on in Springfield.

I'm not defending Blagojevich; I'm trying to defend readers' right to be informed.

Finke's obsessive complaining about Blago fits a script that much of the downstate media followed for years on its editorial pages, namely that all upstate Chicago politicians are bad, while downstate Republicans are good.

The reality is much more complicated.

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