If you're in the news biz, late Friday afternoon is rather a sacred time….and every correspondent worth his or her salt does not want a big story to pop minutes before quitting time. So much for being dedicated journalists.
Yet here was a reporter on the horn to a source who had called the day before. It was 4:15.
"You're not going to believe this," this always reliable contact began in what turned out to be an incredible and bizarre tale to say the least.
With one eye on the clock, the source began: There was an inmate in a state prison who wanted to hire a hit man to kill a sitting state lawmaker.
Hum. Sounds like a story alright.
Seems the unnamed inmate asked a buddy who was getting out of the slammer to find the hit man and offer him $500,000 to kidnap, hold hostage and perhaps even murder the lawmaker.
The second inmate instead of lining up a hit man went to the authorities and the Michigan State Police took it from there.
They found an undercover officer who poised as the hit man and contacted the crook behind bars. He allegedly laid out the entire plot including the name of the lawmaker. The MSP got it all on tape and has charged the guy with conspiracy to commit murder.
Up shot of all this, two sources confirmed it and by 5 p.m. the story was on TV-2 and WWJ News Radio 950 for all the world to hear.
The decision was made not to reveal the lawmaker's name. It really was irrelevant to the story and could have put that family at risk.
About four hours later, Rep. Barb Byrum (D-Onondaga) issued a statement thanking the police for busting this plot and noted she would say nothing more. Obviously some other reporter felt it was important to the story and outed her.
Turns out the inmate seeking the gun for hire was from the Mason area, in her house district, and knew the name of only one lawmaker…her.
Talk about your lousy luck.