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Gov. Rauner wages war with … WBEZ?

Gov. Rauner takes questions on WBEZ's "The Morning Shift." | Photo courtesy of WBEZ

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday accused Chicago public radio station WBEZ of discontinuing an “Ask the Governor” segment with him because “it’s really more of a Democrat station” — a charge the station is adamantly denying.

The remarks were made during a Chicago Tribune editorial board meeting. Columnist Eric Zorn tweeted that the governor complained to the board that WBEZ discontinued the segment for political reasons.

“Some of the powers that be didn’t want me goin’ on there, it’s really more of a Democrat station,” the governor said, per Zorn’s tweet.

That accusation didn’t gel well for the public radio station, which offers extensive local and national political coverage.

“WBEZ and Governor Rauner’s team agreed that the ‘Ask the Governor’ segment would have a limited run and end by Labor Day, as it would not be fair to gubernatorial candidates of all parties to allow the governor an hour of airtime each month during the election campaign,” Goli Sheikholeslami, WBEZ’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “WBEZ is committed to providing voters with fair coverage of all candidates, and we look forward to having Governor Rauner join us for our upcoming GOP primary candidate forum in 2018.”

Rauner began appearing on “The Morning Shift” for a monthly segment which began on Feb. 10. He appeared six times, with his last show on Aug. 18. Listeners were able to call the studio with questions or post them on their Facebook page. The show’s host Tony Sarabia also asked the governor questions during the “Ask the Governor” segment, which usually lasted about 20 minutes.

A former Rauner staffer with knowledge of the deal said the governor’s office and WBEZ had agreed to do the segment for three months — with the option of continuing it. But there was an agreement that it could not carry into the campaign months, so as not to give him an unfair advantage.

The staffer said it was both Rauner and First Lady Diana Rauner’s idea to do the segment — inspired by one conducted on a public radio station in Massachusetts. The Rauner administration had been in talks with WBEZ since fall of 2016.