Ernie Souchak, Editor-in-Chief
Chicago Tribune reporter John Chase went on record saying that the reason he made the late night phone call warning Rod Blagojevich that federal agents were recording him was because he "did not want to get scooped on the story".
Chase's ridiculous statement made it very clear that he was not expecting to be asked any common sense follow-up questions.
Big mistake, John!
Keep in mind that the Tribune had been cooperating for 2 months with U.S Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's office and had agreed not to run a story about the wiretap on Blagojevich.
But when Chase was asked what happened on Dec. 4, 2008 for the Tribune to abruptly change from cooperating with the feds to exposing their wiretap, he was at a loss to give a coherent answer.
Chase was then asked if he or anyone else at the Tribune called Patrick Fitzgerald or anyone else at the U.S. Attorney's Office to let them know that the Tribune was going to expose their wiretap that night?
He was stumped, and refused to answer this simple yes or no question.
Here is why Chase could not answer that particular question.
If Chase had called Patrick Fitzgerald and informed him that the Tribune was now going to expose the feds' wiretap on Blago, wouldn't Fitz try to convince the Trib to wait just one more day?
After all, Blagojevich's brother, Robert, was scheduled to meet with Raghuveer Nayak, Jesse Jackson Jr's money man, to discuss the terms of Jackson's purchase of Barack Obama's U.S Senate seat the very next day.
Blagojevich and Jackson would both have been caught red-handed if Chase had not made that call warning Blago.
On the other hand, if Chase had not called the prosecutors office Fitzgerald would have been justifiably furious at the Tribune for derailing the biggest case of his career.
Instead, Fitzgerald thanked the Tribune for its cooperation, and later gave Chase and Jeff Coen access to the sealed wiretap tapes and transcripts even though the two Trib reporters blew his wiretap out of the water.
All indications are that Fitzgerald was quite OK with Chase warning Blago that night. But obviously Chase can't tell us that.
Even more telling: Chase did not deny that he knew Robert Blagojevich and Nayak were going to meet the next day before he made that late night phone call.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Chase is having a difficult time keeping track of his lies. In his book, "Golden", he contradicts himself by saying that he was chosen by Tribune editors to make the phone call to Blago.
So which is it, John?
(A) make the call to inform Blago that the feds' were recording him because you wanted to be remembered as the reporter who blew Fitzgerald's case?
(B) make the call because your editors who had been cooperating with Fitzgerald told you to?
It's the simple questions that often prove to be the most difficult for liars to answer.
When Chicago Sun Times reporter Natasha Korecki was asked why she was not asking these questions, she replied: "No reporter wants to make another reporter look bad."
Even when it means not reporting the truth.
Wow! "Only in Chicago."