Public Agent A takes stock of Rod Blagojevich’s dramatic downfall

Do you remember Rod Blagojevich? My memory of the former governor of Illinois is the cover of his case of The daily show while Jon Stewart made a long standing gag by exaggerating his name. In 2008, Governor Blagojevich was arrested and charged with corruption after a lengthy investigation, and was ultimately indicted and removed from his post. A new podcast from WBEZ Chicago, Public agent A, takes a look at the events leading up to Blagojevich’s impeachment and why his name has been in the news lately.

In the introduction, reporter Dave McKinney describes the show as “this is our podcast on the downfall of a charismatic, maverick politician by a federal inquiry,” and if you’re unaware of the politics of Illinois or can’t quite remember who Blagojevich is, the show is a deep dive into his rise to power that finally took him to governor’s office in 2003 – and the following fall when authorities l ‘dragged out after their investigation.

If McKinney’s introduction sounds familiar to you, it’s because the series draws parallels to another ongoing federal investigation – that of the Special Council’s investigation led by Robert Mueller into whether President Donald Trump has turned away. agreed or not with Russia to get to the White House. Trump is also the reason why Blagojevich’s name entered the public conversation again – he mentioned he was considering a pardon for the former governor last May. The two have a story too – Blagojevich appeared on Trump’s TV show, The apprentice.

You can listen Public agent A on WBEZ Chicago, Apple Podcasts, NPR, Pocket Casts and Stitcher.

Image: WBEZ

McKinney said The edge that he covered Blagojevich “from the start”, as a longtime Chicago reporter. He had covered the politician a bit when he was a legislator, and more closely during his gubernatorial campaign and subsequent legal issues. He has served about half of his 14-year prison sentence.

Blagojevich’s name is back in the news, in part because his wife, Patti Blagojevich, spent most of the last year launching a media campaign to try to get support for her husband. She made appearances on Fox News and Washington Examiner, hoping to raise awareness of the case, nearly a decade after his incarceration. This campaign reflects the media blitz Blagojevich carried out before his trial – appearing on The daily show, but also Rachel Maddow, Today’s show, and the Late Night with David Letterman and that of Donald Trump The apprentice, while Patti appeared on the reality show I’m a celebrity … get me out of here what the critics said was an attempt to tell potential jurors in a case.

Public agent A was born as a result of Trump’s comments in May aboard Air Force One, story New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman that he felt his sentence was “very unfair”. McKinney says he’s not a fan of the 10-year retrospectives, but noted that Trump’s foray into history has been worth revisiting.

“It caught everyone in Chicago a bit off guard,” McKinney explained, “because after years and years of trying to get the court system to overturn the verdict and the sentence, Patti Blagojevich has found a new friend. in President Trump. It was a story that was in the news again.

And while he’s not a huge fan of retrospective shows, McKinney says looking back brings new perspectives. McKinney noted that this story was well suited for a podcast, given the odd nature of its subject matter, but also because it allowed them to speak with people directly involved in the story. An important element of the series is a series of interviews with Patti Blagojevich, whom they interviewed at length for the series, while other figures involved in the investigation have spoken about their work publicly for the first time.

The show is also part of a growing trend of podcast shows, such as Slow combustion and Constitutional, which have cast historic events alongside the ongoing political drama. Public agent A draws similar parallels, and McKinney recalls that at one point Blagojevich had been considered one of the rising stars of the Democratic Party. “It’s a cliché, there’s a whole Shakespearean element here,” McKinney said, noting that Blagojevich went from the governor’s mansion to singing Elvis Presley songs with a Fabio lookalike for a block party. “What a spectacular fall from grace.”

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