Rod Blagojevich is a journalist’s dream. That’s precisely the downside new docu-series Trial by Media units out to discover.
The disgraced former politician is the centre of an episode in Netflix’s newest foray into the true crime world.
RadioTimes.com sifts via the details to convey you the true story of Blagojevich, his flamboyant movie star presence, his sweeping media affect, and the way a TV stint with Donald Trump led to a life-changing determination in 2020.
Blagojevich’s vibrant upbringing ranged from a brief beginner boxing profession in Northside Chicago to coaching at legislation faculty in Malibu, California. By the time the 90s rolled round, he had began his rise to the prime.
The Democrat climbed the ladder from prosecutor to federal legislator. In 1997 he travelled out to war-torn Yugoslavia to barter the launch of American prisoners of battle with President Slobodan Milosevic, thus was the vary of his actions earlier than touchdown the Governor of Illnois function in 2002.
Blagojevich’s slogan “ending enterprise as traditional” would show to be appropriate, although maybe not in methods he would anticipate by the finish of his political profession. He crept past Republican opponent Jim Ryan with 52 per cent of the vote. Regardless of a turbulent first time period and tumbling approval rankings, Blagojevich was the Democrats’ man of alternative forward of the subsequent election, endorsed by a number of leaders together with then-Illnois Senator Barack Obama in 2005.
A number of of the governor’s associates had been concerned in corruption trials throughout the marketing campaign, although Blagojevich’s crew spent a whopping $26 million in a bid for re-election, in comparison with Republican Judy Baar Topinka’s marketing campaign which price a comparatively tiny $6 million. Blagojevich steamrolled his means via the election.
He signed off on quite a few progressive laws together with loss of life penalty reform, bans on smoking, legal guidelines prohibiting discrimination towards sexual orientation in employment and he additionally pushed for stricter gun management. He garnered large reputation for a time, and his model – each in politics and style – captured loads of media consideration. He would jokingly insist his aides carried a hairbrush referred to as the ‘soccer’, an allusion to the nuclear soccer launch codes by no means to be out of attain for a sitting president.
Then got here the arrest.
Blagojevich was charged with corruption in 2008. He was allegedly concerned in a number of “pay to play” schemes “to acquire private achieve… via the corrupt use” of his authority to exchange Obama as senator following his election as president. Blagojevich was alleged to have been recorded expressing calls for in trade for an appointment to the place. Pay to play. US Legal professional Patrick Fitzgerald described the scenario as an public sale – the highest bidder would successfully land the senator function.
An FBI taping of Blagojevich picked up his phrases: “I’ve obtained this factor, and it’s ****ing golden. I’m simply not giving it up for ****ing nothing.”
A month after his arrest, Blagojevich launched into a media tour of Right this moment, Good Morning America and The Early Present to call a variety in a bid to boost his profile and sway public opinion. He was in all places. Information stands bore his picture, TV screens beamed his defensive interviews, Blagojevich was huge information.
Two days after his TV stints, late in January 2009, he was faraway from workplace and banned for all times from working for a publish in Illnois once more. Two votes had been held, each returned with 59-Zero outcomes unanimously in favour of ridding him from the seat.
It wasn’t the finish of Blagojevich in the public eye. In a quest to seek out cash, he tried to chop a deal to characteristic on the US version of I’m A Celeb! Get Me Out Of Right here! however journey restrictions barred him from travelling to Costa Rica. His spouse Patricia was signed up as a substitute.
He shortly struck out with a ebook deal, performances in an beginner dramatics group with a efficiency named Rod Blagojevich Famous person, he anchored a radio speak present, appeared at Comedian Con, featured in Esquire, the listing merely goes on, all whereas awaiting a proper trial. The Esquire interview landed Blagojevich in even hotter water after claiming to be “blacker than” Obama attributable to his blue collar, working class background, a time period which he shortly sought to retract.
Blagojevich landed a spot on The Celeb Apprentice, the present being hosted and produced by Trump at the time. The now-president was stuffed with reward for Blagojevich, commending his “great braveness and guts”. His stint lasted simply 4 episodes, however little did he know, he had pocketed a literal Get Out Of Jail card.
His trial started in April 2009 with most prices revolving round the glitzy headline that he was able to public sale off Obama’s vacated senator place. On 17th August 2010, 23 of the 24 federal prices had been struck off as a mistrial following disagreement of prices on the jury, although inside 15 minutes, a retrial was ordered for simply six days later.
By this level the media storm was whipped right into a frenzy, the persona, the charisma, the story, the man, the trial had the whole lot. In 2011, the ordeal drew to an in depth with Blagojevich discovered responsible on 17 of 20 prices, together with responsible verdicts on all counts referring to the Senate seat amongst different points. He was sentenced to 14 years in federal jail, beginning in March 2012.
Blagojevich would have been eligible to use for early launch in March 2024, however for his Get Out Of Jail card…
In February 2020, President Trump introduced that Blagojevich’s sentence could be commuted – in essence, shortened.
He instructed the media: “I don’t know him very nicely, I’ve met him a few instances, he was on for a short while on The Apprentice years in the past, appeared like a really good individual, don’t know him, however he served eight years in jail, there’s a very long time to go.” Reviews declare Trump donated private funds to Blagojevich’s unique 2002 governor election marketing campaign.
Trump went on to tweet: “Rod Blagojevich didn’t promote the Senate seat. He served eight years in jail, with many remaining. He paid an enormous value. One other Comey and gang deal!”
Technically he was appropriate, Blagojevich didn’t promote the senate seat as he was caught earlier than he might discover a ‘purchaser’. His insinuation that Blagojevich was framed as a part of a plot by former FBI chief James Comey shouldn’t be a broadly supported view attributable to the incontrovertible fact that Comey was by no means assigned to the case.
Now a self-professing ‘Trumpocrat’, Blagojevich whipped up one other media circus upon his launch: “I’m returning dwelling at the moment from an extended exile a freed political prisoner.
“I need to say once more to the individuals of Illinois who twice elected me governor: I didn’t allow you to down. I’d have allow you to down if I gave in to this. However resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”
In one other interview he claimed: “That is the bigger combat that’s earlier than all of us as People. A few of these identical individuals once more have tried to do at the Main League-level to a Republican president what they had been ready efficiently to do to a Democratic governor.
“They’re threatening to remove from all of us our rights to decide on our personal leaders via free and honest elections.”
We’ll go away the closing phrases to former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer who labored on the case at the time. In response to Blagojevich and Trump’s claims, he stated: “Everyone seems to be making an attempt to morph these details. These prosecutors who investigated and convicted Blagojevich have been out of the US Division of Justice for about 10 years.
“When you need to undergo these authorized gymnastics, possibly the greatest reply is the simplest one, which is Rod Blagojevich is the poster youngster for public corruption in Illinois. And that may be a fairly excessive bar.”