“Confusing” is the word Cameron, Paul Meincke of ABC-7 News and Mike Tarm of The Associated Press used separately to describe the prosecution presentation. “Too complicated” is the description given by Jeff Coen of the Chicago Tribune.
Tarm believes the defense counted on the jury being confused journalists were. For example, when seasoned trial reporters asked the spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, Randall Samborn, to clarify one point, he could not explain and had to go back to the trial lawyers to ask them.
Prosecutors were “too cool, calm and collected,” said Cheryl Corley of National Public Radio. “Just plain dry,” said Tarm. “You never saw the nickel drop.”
In contrast, Blagojevich’s defense team put on a show for the jury and in the “court of public opinion.”
When Blagojevich is re-tried, reporters predict a simpler approach. “They have some work to do,” said Natasha Korecki of the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Streamline” said Meincke and Coen.
Rhodes chastised reporters for allowing themselves to be used by the Blagojevich defense. “What do you do? Ignore him?” asked Korecki. “When do you stop covering?” asked Meincke.
The Tribune watchdogged many of the more outrageous statements made by Blagojevich and his attorneys, a role that Rhodes said should be adopted by other media outlets.
In practical terms of coverage, George LeClaire, a Daily Herald photojournalist, chafed at being confined to a fenced-off section known as the “pen” at the Dirksen Federal Building. Meincke said broadcast coverage was complicated because tape recordings played during the trial were not released until 5:30 p.m. each day.
Several reporters said electronic communications were difficult. One switched cell phone carriers. Others walked around with open phones, looking for “sweet spots” for reception.
The Tribune and Sun-Times made good use of the overflow room for media. Reporters in the courtroom relayed to those in the overflow room, who could blog and do other text. Coen said that resulted in making the print story for the next day more analytical. Korecki said there were so many good leads each day it was difficult to decide on one for the paper. Tarm said the AP put out upward of 20 leads many days.
None expect Blagojevich to plea-bargain before his next trial. At that point, Cameron said, “Nothing will be predictable.”