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TV and Blagojevich: It's a freakshow, not journalism

From ABC's Good Morning America to CNN's Larry King, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is going to be everywhere on TV today as his impeachment trial starts in Illinois.

Some of the networks are acting like it's a big journalistic deal to have an interview with him.

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"Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will give his first national television appearances exclusively to ABC," the network announced this weekend. "On Monday, January 26th, he will be live on ABC News' Good Morning America -- the day his impeachment trial begins in his home state. Following his interview with GMA, Blagojevich will appear live on ABC's The View."

NBC trumpeted: "NBC News' Amy Robach sits down with Gov. Blagojevich in his first TV interview since his arrest." Part of that conversation will air on Today.

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But for all the talk by the news divisions of "exclusives" and "firsts," giving Blagojevich air time isn't about journalism. In fact, the reason he will be all over the tube is that he has hired a PR firm, and they have launched a massive media blitz on his behalf.

So, why are the networks and cable channels going along with the campaign and featuring the man charged with trying to sell the Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama?

Because you don't know what bizarre statement is going to come out his mouth next, and he often sounds like a crazy man. If anyone didn't already know that, Friday's news conference with all his strange talk of "cowboys ropin' steers...and herdin' cattle" provided more than enough evidence. He somehow sees himself as a cowboy that the Illinois Senate is trying to "hang."

Blagojevich is a TV freakshow. Watching him is like watching Tammy Faye Bakker or Kato Kaelin. It makes for great live TV but in the end, it's a meaningless diversion from the real stories of the economy and war that need to be covered.

So, don't be fooled by the networks, cable channels, anchors and interviewers as to what they are selling with Blagojevich today and tonight. It's mainly trash.

Journalism would involve some real reporting on such matters as to how Blagojevich managed once upon a time to be taken seriously in Illinois -- and how it was that none of the Illinois politicians now running Washington seem to have done anything to denounce or expose him before now.

(Chicago Tribune photo of Gov. Rod Blagojevich by Nancy Stone)

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