It took awhile, but the MSM is starting to flex its muscles. After all, they can’t let a scandal as juicy as Blago-gate go uncovered. Faced with a tight-lipped presidential team, you knew that sooner or later the media would start — brace yourself — asking hard questions and becoming irritated by non-answers. From the New York Times:
Mr. Obama said Tuesday that he had never spoken with the governor about the seat, and prosecutors have not implicated Mr. Obama or his advisers. At the same time, Mr. Obama’s team has declined for two days to answer questions about what discussions they had about the seat and whether intermediaries had any contacts with Mr. Blagojevich’s advisers.
Republicans have raised questions about Mr. Obama’s refusal to say more and about his past ties with the main characters. Even if Mr. Obama remains untouched by the investigation, it shines a light on the corrupt politics of the state he emerged from and takes attention away from the agenda of change he would rather emphasize.
“This is a huge distraction at the worst possible moment,” said Lanny J. Davis, a former White House special counsel who did damage control for President Bill Clinton.
And it can grow if not handled properly. “It’s like the whirlwind,” said Chris Lehane, another veteran of the Clinton teams. “You get pulled into the vortex more and more.”
But the zinger is a few paragraphs down:
Mr. Emanuel was among the few people in Mr. Obama’s circle who occasionally spoke to Mr. Blagojevich. He declined to answer questions on Wednesday, waving off a reporter who approached him as he walked across Capitol Hill.
A Democrat familiar with Illinois politics and the Obama transition, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said there probably were calls between the Blagojevich and Obama camps about the Senate seat. It was not clear if any calls were recorded by federal agents, who had tapped the governor’s phones.
Okay, if it were a Republican there would be a two-inch headline : “NEW CHIEF OF STAFF TALKED WITH BLAGO –SCANDAL GROWS.” But even in its milder form, this is fairly troubling information. The “we didn’t” vs. “I didn’t” talk to Blago distinction that the President-elect stammered out when first pressed on Blago’s contacts with the transition team does seem to have been a key one.
If in fact Emanuel had conversations with Blago that were taped, the Obama team better get all the facts out. Fast. Otherwise, Emanuel and the Obama administration will be in for a tough ride.
So, is it over? (The honeymoon, of course.) Let’s just say the press is finding something more tantalizing than Obama-promotion: a fascinating scandal that potentially touches a key member of the new administration.