Friday, May 17, 2019

Pardon clears Black’s legal woes, but his stain remains

The Infants Christ and St. John the Baptist Embracing (detail)
The Art Institute of Chicago

     I’m writing this column on an Apple iMac. Not the latest model — it’s from 2012. Quite old, actually — but a good size, 21.5 inch screen, and reliable.
     Fifty bucks and it’s yours.
     No? How about $25?
     Kidding. There are two problems with my selling this iMac. First, I need it to write the rest of today’s column. And second, the computer’s not mine: it belongs to the Chicago Sun-Times. So if I did sell it, contrary to the company’s best interests, the money wouldn’t belong to me, but to them.
     That, in a nutshell, if you puff away the bombast and legalese, not to mention the confusing miasma of conviction and acquittal, appeal and reversal, is the essence of the misdeeds of Conrad Black, former master of Hollinger International, a chain of newspapers that included this one. Crimes Lord Black was pardoned of on Wednesday by his friend and fellow fraud, President Donald Trump.
     Black and his underling David Radler sold off pieces of Hollinger as if they and not the stockholders owned the place. They sold publications and skimmed off cash for themselves, arguing this was OK because the embezzlement was cast in the form of “noncompete” clauses, promises not to undercut the business of the new owners.
     To return to our opening scenario, it’s as if I sold you this iMac for $50, passing $25 to the paper and keeping $25 for myself as payment for promising not to hurt your ability to profit from writing stuff on it.
     “We believe the verdict vindicates the serious public interest in making sure that when insiders in a corporation deal with money entrusted to the shareholders, that they’re not engaged in self-dealing,” Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois at the time, said after the convictions.

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  1. The pardon actually makes Drumpf look even worse than Black. It once more proves that he's the most narcissistic clown around & can't live without obsequious praise, no matter how undeserved it is & it's very undeserved!
    When Pat Quinn became governor, he had to slog through hundreds & hundreds of pardon requests that the other fatuous narcissistic clown Blago did nothing about.
    And now Blago wants a pardon from Drumpf & his fool of a wife keeps going on TV every few months trying to convince the would be dictator in the White House to give her dimbulb husband one.

  2. Thanks for this, especially the Patrick Fitzgerald quote. If anyone at the paper plans to catch up with him to get his reaction to the pardon, ask him why his name isn't on the list of former federal prosecutors who signed the open letter opposing Trump's obstruction of justice efforts.

    1. These events began with the election of Senator Peter Fitzgerald. When Bush 43 was elected, Senate tradition granted Peter the right to select federal prosecutors for appointment. Peter scoured the country for the best and brightest, and assembled the A-Team of federal prosecutors, headed by Patrick Fitzgerald. Most run of the mill politicians fear to have these kind of people standing over their shoulders. Not so Senators Durbin and Obama. To their credit, after Peter left, they not only kept them intact they gave full support for their work in a bi-partisan fashion. Thus we have the successful prosecution of George Ryan, Rod Blagojevich, and Conrad Black among other malefactors. Black evil genius he is has a skewed vision of American criminal justice. By selecting lazy greedy board members like Jim Thompson, who give little thought to the fiduciary duty they are obligated to preform for the Hollinger shareholders, he can have them rubber stamp his criminal behavior, and it would somehow make it legal. To answer your question Patrick Fitzgerald did not sign that worthless hackary of a document is because he is highly intelligent. The least the author could have done is articulate viable Articles of Impeachment Nancy Pelosi could utilize. Despite his best efforts, by pure damnable luck Trump has managed to have a few people with enough integrity to keep him out of serious trouble. Be it the staffer who penned the anonymous editorial for the New York Times who pilfered poorly thought out memos from Trump's desk. To Don McGahn who prevented Trump from firing Mueller. Then in an act demonstrating his bottomless stupidity, Trump criticizes people like McGahn who saved him from prosecution and impeachment.

  3. Essentially, Black bought his pardon by publishing a book that promotes the Trump brand. If that sort of pardon isn't illeagal, it should be.

  4. As Neil undoubtedly knows better than I do, Black was filled with contempt for working journalists -- an attitude which, combined with his greed, explains how and why he ran the Sun-Times into the ground.

    Every single public figure I've ever heard of who was openly hostile to and contemptuous of the press has been worthless or worse. Wholesale attacks on the media are a sure sign of bad faith, if not bad character.

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