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O'Reilly Failed To Get A Slam Dunk Against Obama Administration From Former Illinois Guv . . . Blago Showed O'Reilly What "The Illinois Way" Is All About

Reported by Julie - February 12, 2010 -

Okay, I'm not often really proud of the State of Illinois -- no shocker, we've got a little more than our share of machine politics, corruption, and back-room deals. And I've been watching former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in Chicago ever since his arrest for allegedly attempting to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Obama. But watching him on O'Reilly -- damn, at least he learned something in all the years he spent in Illinois politics. Okay, maybe he didn't learn how to beware of surreptitious taping devices -- but the guy's truly a master at the media game. Immediately post-arrest, he made the talk show circuit, and he's never met a camera he didn't like. Watching him in action now is a fascinating phenomenon: It all just seems to slide off him. Now that I think about it, he and Bill O'Reilly have something in common -- they both embrace the whole denial thing, and they both often seem to have the attitude of "facts be damned." Only thing, Blago's a hell of a lot more charming than O'Reilly. Blago is either stone guilty and has convinced himself of his own innocence or he's the most wronged man in Illinois' history, as long and checkered as Illinois' history is. And when Blago appeared last night (2/11/10) on The Factor, O'Reilly had a very, very specific agenda, and was pretty peeved when Master Media Man Blago refused to "pay to play." With video.

O'Reilly introduced Blago, and adopted a "bumpkin" role, saying he couldn't try the case on The Factor because he wasn't Nancy Grace and didn't know anything about the evidence, but said he respected Blago's plea of "innocence" (as opposed to "not guilty"). O'Reilly didn't waste any time on niceties, however -- like, you know, how's the family, how you holding up, who'd you want for the Super Bowl -- before getting to the master plan: Find a way to get Blago to indict President Obama and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and find it fast.

"But I do want to ask you about President Obama, Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago guys . . . do they have any involvement in the case at all?" O'Reilly asked pointedly.

Blago had his own agenda for the show -- to paint himself in the best light -- and didn't bite, saying, "Well, Bill, the most important evidence is the secretly taped conversations when the government taped my home phones for about six weeks and other telephone calls, and there are hundreds of hours of secretly taped conversations . . . ."

Blago said that he and his lawyers have moved the Court to have all of the tapes heard in open court so the jury can hear what "the whole truth is . . . it will exonerate me." Blago went on to say that the tapes will show "the theft of a governor twice elected by the people by government bureaucrats with fancy law degrees."

All fine by O'Reilly, anxious to get the dirt -- hundreds of hours of tape, yeah, yeah, get the tapes out, yeah yeah, "But I'll come back to the fact that there has been reported that then Senator Obama, Rahm Emanuel . . . had conversations with you about this seat. That's a fact, is that true?"

Well if, as O'Reilly claims, it's a fact, there's no need to ask if it's true, correct? Just sayin'. But Blago easily deflected O'Reilly's pointed question, and responded with, "Well, let me answer that and let me also let you and the listeners know, the viewers know, I'm restricted by a court order . . . ."

O'Reilly began to get impatient, and snapped, ". . . I'm not gonna ask you what the conversations are. I'm gonna ask general questions that you can answer -- conversations with then Senator Obama and his guys, yes or no."

Blago, unflappable, responded without answering: "I spoke to President Obama the last time less than a week before I was arrested . . . we talked about a variety of different issues . . . right after the election . . . I had conversations with my Congressman, Rahm Emanuel, about a variety of issues, he gave me advice and some recommendations on the Senate seat . . . emissaries purporting to be from the Obama camp had offered my Chief of Staff that they were going to raise a whole bunch of money for me around the country if I appointed a candidate that they were interested in . . . ."

"You're saying," O'Reilly pressed, "Yes, you had conversations with the President and Rahm Emanuel and some other people who purport to be in their camp, okay. Now, in your opinion . . . are those conversations with the President and Rahm Emanuel are they damaging to those individuals?"

"Well . . . ." Blago hesitated, ostensibly weighing his political options.

"That's an easy one, Governor . . . are they damaging in your opinion?" O'Reilly asked curtly. Knowing Blago, and knowing how skilled he is in these sorts of things, ya gotta wonder if he didn't maybe a little kinda sorta lead O'Reilly to believe, pre-interview, that he might just spill some beans about the Obama Administration on The Factor.

"The question is, was there anything illegal with regard to my conversations with any of them, the answer is no," Blago answered obliquely, as O'Reilly heatedly interrupted him.

"No, the question is," O'Reilly said, exasperated now, "In your opinion, will they damage President Obama or Rahm Emanuel when the tapes come out as you want, will it be damaging to them?" You could almost hear O'Reilly panting for a "yes."

Blago replied that "there's a court order that prohibits me . . . ."

"No there's not," cried O'Reilly. Trial lawyer? Thought he wasn't Nancy Grace . . . .

". . . what's on the conversations," Blago finished.

O'Reilly, desperate to reach his desired end, wouldn't veer from his agenda, again asking, ". . . I'm just asking your opinion, your humble opinion, if when stuff is played, are there gonna be people go, woah, is it gonna be damaging to the President or Rahm Emanuel or both? It's an opinion question."

"Well, I'll leave that to others . . . ." Blago said, jauntily riding the fence.

"Oh man, you're dodging, you're dancing! How can you do that?" O'Reilly cried. "You're supposed to be a straight up guy . . . you're dancing, you're dodging, yes or no, in your opinion, is it damaging or not? Come on, there's nothing wrong with that, it's not breaking anybody's confidence, you're not gonna get in trouble. You're already in a lot of trouble, this isn't gonna make it worse." Good one, O'Reilly -- maybe a suggestion of some reading material, like "How to Win Friends and Influence People," would not be out of line here.

"There were no illegal conversations with me and Rahm Emanual, no illegal conversations between President Obama and me . . . ." Blago hedged.

Blago, however, skilled politician that he is, threw O'Reilly a bone -- which recaptured O'Reilly's attention -- saying, "However, there are FBI interviews with President Obama, with Rahm Emanuel and other people in the White House. We've asked the government to turn those interviews over . . . ."

A very frustrated O'Reilly said, "Let's get back to you, what you know -- so in your opinion, nothing illegal was said by Emanuel or the President, fine . . . damaging in the public arena, talk show guys grabbing it, Factor guys grabbing it . . . Would that happen if those tapes were made public?"

Blago took a mild swipe at the media, saying, ". . . I know what you guys have done to me when snippets of conversation . . . ."

"We've been fair to you . . .," O'Reilly said smugly. "That's why you're on the program, we've been fair to you."

"I mean you guys in the media and how you guys in the media do certain things . . . ." Blago explained earnestly.

Last ditch effort from O'Reilly, making no effort to conceal his impatience and disgust at this friendly, but recalcitrant, guest: "Are they gonna be embarrassed or not in your opinion, yes or no, are they gonna be embarrassed if this stuff comes out, yes or not?"

"I think those are questions you should ask them . . .," Blago said, giving up nothing. "You should ask them."

Watching Blago last night reminded me of a song from "The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas," when the Governor, played by Charles Durning, dances and sings, "Oooh, you gotta dance a little side step . . . cut a little swath and lead the people on." That's Blago -- and I enjoyed it as much as the movie. All I can say about this interview -- aside from how thoroughly I enjoyed watching O'Reilly use every tactic he knows, including bullying, interrupting and insulting, to get Blago to toe his line, only to be trounced in the end and forced to walk away empty-handed -- is that O'Reilly underestimated his opponent here, a very gifted manipulator and a very skilled politician. As an Illinoisan, I always liked the Guv -- he did some good things for the state. And the hot water he's in now . . . well, it seems to me, having watched Chicago and Illinois politics for a long time, that Blago got cocky and got caught -- but aside from that, there's not a whole lot of difference between his alleged crimes and similar crimes and misdemeanors going on daily, weekly, monthly in this state. O'Reilly may have thought he was using Blago for his own ends, but O'Reilly forgot that Blago, the consummate self-proclaimed innocent, clearly viewed O'Reilly as a lightweight compared to the heavy hitters O'Reilly was urging him to throw under the bus.