Rezko Sentenced to 10½ Years, Media Ignore It And/Or His Ties to Obama

Depending on which news outlet you rely on for current events, you may not have heard that convicted Chicago real estate developer Tony Rezko was sentenced to 10½ years in prison Tuesday.

On top of this, unless you read the following report from Reuters, you mightn't have known just how connected he was to a junior senator from Illinois who just so happens to be the President of the United States:

A U.S. judge on Tuesday sentenced Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a former Chicago fundraiser for President Barack Obama, to 10-1/2 years in prison for corruption and extortion.

Rezko's conviction was among a slew of guilty pleas that led to the conviction in two trials of former Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and several of his aides. [...]

Rezko became a minor campaign issue for Obama during the 2008 presidential race. The two had become close friends and Rezko had raised tens of thousands of dollars for the then-Illinois state senator's successful U.S. Senate and presidential campaigns.

At one point, the Republican National Committee referred to Rezko as Obama's "money man".

Rezko also advised Obama in the purchase of the future president's large home on the south side of Chicago. Rezko's wife purchased and then resold to the Obama family a side yard to the home they could not afford initially.

When Rezko was convicted, Obama said he was "saddened" and added, "This isn't the Tony Rezko I knew."

From what I can tell, this was the best print report on this matter which was nicely headlined "Former Obama Fundraiser Rezko Gets 10-year Sentence."

Rival the Associated Press went far easier on Obama in its piece entitled "Blago Ally Rezko Gets 10½ Years, Minus Time Served" which began, "A former top fundraiser for Rod Blagojevich was sentenced Tuesday to 10½ years in prison for pressuring businesses for millions in kickbacks, an unusually stiff penalty that could portend a tough day for the former governor when he is sentenced for his own corruption convictions."

Buried way down in the article: "Rezko also was a political fundraiser for Obama during his campaigns for Illinois senator, though not for his presidential campaign. Obama has not been accused of wrongdoing in the case, but his relationship with Rezko became an issue during the 2008 election."

That's all the AP thought was necessary to share with readers about the President's dealings with this criminal years ago.

But that's better than most of the newspapers outside of Chicago. The New York Times hasn't published a word about this. Ditto most of the nation's major papers.

For its part, the Washington Post on Wednesday published a snippet of the AP piece in the Digest section on page A-3:

Blagojevich ally sentenced to prison

A former top fundraiser for Rod Blagojevich (D) was sentenced Tuesday to 10 ½ years in prison for pressuring businesses for millions in kickbacks, an unusually stiff penalty that could portend a tough day for the former governor when he is sentenced for his own corruption convictions.

Antoin “Tony” Rezko spent 3 ½ years in custody awaiting sentencing on his 2008 convictions for fraud, money laundering and plotting to squeeze more than $7 million in kickbacks from companies that wanted to do business with the state during Blagojevich’s tenure. He will get credit for time served and will serve 85 percent of his total sentence.

Attorneys for the former Chicago real estate developer and fast-food entrepreneur had asked that he be set free, saying he had served more time than others convicted as part of the federal investigation of Blagojevich.

Notice the conspicuous absence of the name "Obama."

USA Today was even more deceptive including the following at the end of a news digest piece on page 3A headlined "Justice Dept. Sues Over Utah Immigration Law":

Blagojevich fundraiser gets 10 years

A former top fundraiser for ousted Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, whose trial exposed a pay-to-play political culture, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Antoin "Tony" Rezko will get credit for 3 years already served. Rezko was convicted in 2008 of fraud, money laundering and plotting to squeeze $7 million in kickbacks from companies. The governor was convicted on charges that included trying to sell or trade an appointment to President Obama's Senate seat.


When you think about how these outlets for weeks filled their pages with thirteen year old unproven allegations of sexual harassment by Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, and their interest in jewelry purchases by Newt Gingrich for his wife, the bias at play becomes nauseating.

The same can be said of America's television news outlets. According to LexisNexis, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, and NBC didn't say one word about this Tuesday despite the sentence breaking early in the day.

This of course isn't at all surprising. As NewsBusters reported earlier this month, the broadcast network news outlets ran more stories about Cain's alleged sexual harassment in a week than they did Obama's ties to Rezko throughout the entire 2008 campaign. MSNBC during roughly the same period ran more stories about the Cain scandal than it did Obama's connections to Rezko, domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and America-hating Rev. Jeremiah Wright combined.

For its part, CNN mentioned the Rezko sentencing once Tuesday on John King, USA:

JOHN KING, HOST: A judge today sentenced one-time Obama campaign contributor Tony Rezko to ten and a half years in prison. That for his part in a kickback scandal involving the former Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich.

This was comically in a segment King called "News You Need to Know."

I guess the supposedly most trusted name in news didn't think its viewers needed to know much about this.

That's par for the course for this outlet. As NewsBusters reported earlier this month, CNN ran more stories about the Cain scandal in six days than it ever did on Obama's connections to Rezko.

Fox News's Special Report also gave Tuesday's sentencing short shrift:

SHANNON BREAM, SUBSTITUTE HOST: Chicago based Democratic pollster and fundraiser Tony Rezko was sentenced today to 10-and-a-half in prison. He was convicted in 2008 on corruption charges. Rezko has ties to both President Obama and former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.

By far the best television report on this subject came from Fox Business Network's Power and Money:

DAVID ASMAN, HOST: Finally tonight, Tony Rezko was sentenced today to 10-and-a- half years in prison. The former power player in Chicago politics has been sitting in jail for three-and-a-half years waiting to be sentenced for 16 counts of political corruption. The prosecutors argue against cutting his sentence for time served even though he has been serving some pretty hard time in a high-risk unit with terrorists and members of a Mexican drug cartel. They clearly want to keep Rezko in deep isolation for a very long time.

But the man who would probably most like to see Tony Rezko stay out of sight is President Obama. One of the first political contributions ever came from companies controlled by Tony Rezko in 1995. In 2003 Rezko was put on Obama's campaign finance committee for the U.S. Senate. And in 2005 the Obama's purchased a one $1.65 million house in Chicago with a $300,000 assist from Rezko, something the president later publicly regretted.

While the press has been running big headlines about the lousy character judgments of Republican presidential contenders, somehow the president's lousy judgment in associating so closely with Tony Rezko keeps getting a pass. We all make mistakes, but a close association with a guy prosecutors are locking up with drug assassins and terrorists deserves at least as much scrutiny as gifts once purchased for a candidate's wife. Or maybe that's just us.

Apparently, David, it's just you.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.