John P. McCormick
The Chicago Tribune
At my first newspaper job in Iowa, an angry labor leader said he wanted to castrate me because of something I'd written. During 18 years as a correspondent for Newsweek, the only threat of dismissal that reached my ears came from a New York editor who thought I insufficiently admired two of her precious writers. So you can imagine the surprise last week when I learned that the governor of Illinois allegedly was threatening to withhold $100 million or more in state financing help from the Chicago Tribune's parent company unless the paper fired me.
A criminal complaint from the U.S. Justice Department quotes surreptitious FBI taping of Gov. Rod Blagojevich discussing the Tribune's editorial board. "Our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get 'em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support," he allegedly says on Nov. 4. A Nov. 21 recording allegedly has the governor asking his chief of staff, John Harris, whether "McCormick is going to get bounced at the Tribune." Harris responds that I am "the most biased and unfair" of the editorial writers; Blagojevich chimes in that I'm a "bad guy." More conversations ensue. But when the Tribune hasn't buckled by Dec. 5, the governor asks "what's the deal. So, do McCormick stays [sic] at the Tribune, huh?"
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