Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich strutted up to a bank of microphones outside his lawyers' offices in jeans, a blazer and television makeup Tuesday and all but challenged U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to a duel at 10 paces.
Fitzgerald lied about him engaging in a crime spree, Blagojevich steamed, promising to appear in federal court Wednesday at high noon to push a renewed defense bid to play every tape secretly made of his conversations during the corruption investigation of his administration.
"I challenge Mr. Fitzgerald. Why don't you show up in court tomorrow and explain to everybody, say to the whole world why you don't want those tapes that you made played in court?" Blagojevich said. "I'll be in court tomorrow. I hope you're man enough to be there tomorrow too."
It's unclear how the tactic will play out in court just six weeks before Blagojevich's trial is set to begin, but as an exercise in media manipulation, it worked spectacularly. Nearly a dozen news cameras were on hand to hear Blagojevich lay on the mustard, and several TV stations aired the remarks — scheduled for precisely 5:03 p.m. for their benefit — live on their evening newscasts.
He spoke for just two minutes, then took no questions.