“Beyond the irony of its outcome…”? Huh? How about…beyond the irony of the fact that an Obama phone call for an ethics reform bill — strongly opposed by none other than Rod Blagojevich — is an excuse to somehow tie him to the “murky” world of Chicago politics. Look (as Obama himself might say), there’s some interesting new information in this Times article, but their basic perspective is all upside-down wrong.



Did it occur to them that maybe Obama was elected 44th president of the United States exactly because he HAS escaped “the murky and insular world of Illinois politics”? When people ask why would someone like Obama involve himself in Chicago politics, the bottom line is Chicago is where he lived — he moved there to organize laid-off steelworkers, got a job there and then even married a Windy City native.



Most people run for office in THE CITY WHERE THEY LIVE — that caused Obama to cross paths with an interesting cast of characters, but in the case of Rod Blagojevich, it seems like once he took the measure of the man he didn’t want much to do with him. He had little to do with Blago after 2006, didn’t even ask him to speak at the Dem convention in 2008, and his people didn’t give the governor the time of day regarding his recent Senate machinations. Obama mostly kept their “murky” world at arm’s length, which is a reason why he is president-elect and why the notion that a machine hack like Blagojevich could even think about running for president in 2016 is almost proof of his insanity.



But this Times story is Day One of what is going to be a brand new silly season in American politics, just when you thought it was safe. No matter how much the next few days demonstrate that Obama didn’t want any part of Blago’s scam, every phone call in which a junior staffer didn’t immediately hang up, or any time that Obama and Blagojevich were in the same room and Obama didn’t slap a pair of cuffs on the governor will be more proof of the “murky” circles that Obama travels in.



Wait until they found out that Obama’s set foot in Philadelphia, too.

Sinners: For a whole series of similarly ridiculous stories, see all of them cited in this morning’s Note from ABC News—except, of course, The Note doesn’t characterize them that way.

Winner: Dave Aeikens, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, for calling on NBC News six days ago “to sever the network’s relationship with retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey to re-establish the integrity of its reporting on military-related issues, including the war in Iraq” in the wake of David Barstow’s brilliant investigation of McCaffrey’s multiple conflicts of interest, which I discussed here last week.

NBC ignored the SPJ entirely until Full Court Press asked NBC’s senior vice president for media relations, Allison Gollust, for a comment. Reaching for FCP’s chutzpah award of 2008, Sinner Gollust offered this response:

SPJ’s Ethics Committee came to its conclusion without seeking any information or facts from NBC News—they simply took the reporting of David Barstow as evidence of an ethical problem at NBC News. For a group of journalists in an organization that supposedly is committed to a “free-flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry,” we find this rush to judgement unfortunate and irresponsible.

Note to Gollust: The reporting of Barstow is indisputable evidence of a gigantic ethical problem at NBC News. That’s why it wasn’t necessary to contact you before making a very obvious recommendation.

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.