Here is how Winner and Philadelphia Daily Newser Will Bunch dissected the problems with the Times reporters’ approach, in a column titled “Obama’s support of ethics reform is good news for the GOP…or Rudy Giuliani, or something like that”:

Seriously, I’m trying to get my arms around this new story on the Blagojevich scandal that The New York Times has put out there. The lede of the article is tantalizing:
In a sequence of events that neatly captures the contradictions of Barack Obama’s rise through Illinois politics, a phone call he made three months ago to urge passage of a state ethics bill indirectly contributed to the downfall of a fellow Democrat he twice supported, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.

Mr. Obama placed the call to his political mentor, Emil Jones Jr., president of the Illinois Senate. Mr. Jones was a critic of the legislation, which sought to curb the influence of money in politics, as was Mr. Blagojevich, who had vetoed it. But after the call from Mr. Obama, the Senate overrode the veto, prompting the governor to press state contractors for campaign contributions before the law’s restrictions could take effect on Jan. 1, prosecutors say.


OK, so what I’m getting from that is that Barack Obama supports ethics in government, that he doesn’t think state contractors should be making large campaign contributions. Hey, that’s a good thing, right?

Right?

Uh, according to The New York Times, not necessarily:

Beyond the irony of its outcome, Mr. Obama’s unusual decision to inject himself into a statewide issue during the height of his presidential campaign was a reminder that despite his historic ascendancy to the White House, he has never quite escaped the murky and insular world of Illinois politics. It is a world he has long navigated, to the consternation of his critics, by engaging in a kind of realpolitik, Chicago-style, which allowed him to draw strength from his relationships with important players without becoming compromised by their many weaknesses.

Charles Kaiser is the author of The Gay Metropolis and 1968 in America. He has been media editor for Newsweek, a member of the metro staff of The New York Times, and a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where he covered the press and book publishing. To learn more, visit charleskaiser.com.