Zell purchased the Tribune Co. in 2007, but took on massive debt to do so. Selling the Chicago Cubs was reportedly one way Zell considered to pay down on that debt. He was looking to the state government for money or other aid to improve the Cubs' financial lot, the complaint indicates.
At the same time, articles and editorials in the Chicago Tribune were increasingly irritating Blagojevich, the complaint indicates, and Blagojevich apparently decided his life would be easier with more supportive editors at the paper.
Or, as he allegedly put it in another secretly recorded phone call cited in the complaint: "our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get 'em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support."
In a statement released to the media, Chicago Tribune editor Gerald Kourn said the U.S. Attorney's Office had asked the paper on several occasions to hold stories relating to the long-running probe of Blagojevich's administration, called Operation Board Games. "In isolated instances, we granted the requests, but other requests were refused," Kourn's statement read.
"They didn't agree to all of our requests," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at a press conference Tuesday after the arrest of the governor and his aide. But "I have to take my hat off" to the paper, he said, for holding the story about the recorded conversations for several weeks.
The Tribune Co., which owns radio and television properties, the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun, in addition to the Chicago Tribune, filed for bankruptcy Monday.
Emma Schwartz contributed to this report.