Yesterday I expressed some skepticism over two reports from KHQA that put Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich in a meeting to discuss his Senate successor a day after winning the presidential election, on November 5th.  I searched both major Chicago newspapers to find substantiation, and could find no mention of any meeting at all.  The only reporting came in the Sun-Times, which reported that Blagojevich said on November 5th that he had not met with Obama, at a point in time when Blagojevich had no reason to lie.  KHQA then followed up on the 8th with another report apparently confirming their first.

Late last night, KHQA retracted both reports and removed them from their website (via Political Machine):

KHQA TV wishes to offer clarification regarding a story that appeared last month on our website ConnectTristates.com.  The story, which discussed the appointment of a replacement for President Elect Obama’in the U.S. Senate, became the subject of much discussion on talk radio and on blog sites Wednesday.

The story housed in our website archive was on the morning of November 5, 2008. It suggested that a meeting was scheduled later that day between President Elect Obama and Illinois Governor Blagojevich. KHQA has no knowledge that any meeting ever took place.  Governor Blagojevich did appear at a news conference in Chicago on that date.

KHQA’s management doesn’t quite get around to apologizing for their sloppy reporting here.  In the first place, they reported it twice, and they hardly “suggested” the meeting.  Here’s what they wrote on November 5th:

He’s meeting with Governor Rod Blagojevich this afternoon in Chicago to discuss it.

Does that sound like a “suggestion” of a meeting?  They were no less explicit on the 8th, when they reported that the meeting had taken place using themselves as their only source, in a story their retraction doesn’t bother to mention:

Obama met with Governor Rod Blagojevich earlier this week to discuss it.

KHQA blew the reporting.  They had no real information on this meeting; they made it up out of whole cloth, and explicitly reported it twice with no corroboration.  Under normal circumstances, no one would have ever thought to double-check these brief reports, but Blagojevich’s arrest for corruption made KHQA’s reports famous.

Now they’re embarrassed, and they’re trying to worm out of it by claiming to be misunderstood.  Instead of insulting their readers by claiming that they jumped to conclusions that KHQA reporters explicitly provided them in the articles, KHQA management should apologize for their bad reporting.

In any event, other than David Axelrod’s assertion on November 23rd that Obama and Blagojevich discussed the Senate succession, no independent reporting found thus far puts the two of them on the phone together or in the same room strategizing on Obama’s replacement.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that such a meeting took place — it would make sense, politically, for Blagojevich to consult Obama on potential candidates even if Blagojevich wasn’t corrupt — but people will have to look harder for evidence.

Update: Tommy Christopher at AOL’s Political Machine tried calling KHQA to get a better explanation of their retraction.  Be sure to read the post to see their response.