Let’s set aside the Dave McKinney affair as it reflects on McKinney and his former newspaper, the Sun-Times. Let’s focus on Bruce Rauner.

Rauner, by the way, commented briefly on the affair in an exchange with Hannah Meisel on public radio station WILL in Champagne-Urbana. Rauner said he personally didn’t talk to anyone at the paper about McKinney or the McKinney story the Rauner campaign objected to, but his campaign staff was “very upset” and did. It was an article “we thought was extremely misleading and badly done,” so his people went through “proper channels” and protested. Rauner said it sounds as if the Sun-Times “has internal management issues.”

The upshot of the McKinney affair is that McKinney was suspended over a story that his editor in chief, Jim Kirk, defended as responsible journalism and published; that McKinney ultimately resigned; and that Rauner received a glowing endorsement from the paper he used to partly own.

Rauner’s problem, as I see it, is that the endorsement’s tainted by circumstances and its own hyperbole. It’s too glowing to take seriously. It’s as if an editorial writer said to himself, If they make me write this thing I’m going so far over the top no one will buy a word of it. Or if not an act of sabotage, it was an act of cronyism so blatant that only the cronies themselves could fail to be embarrassed by it.

But Rauner’s running against cronyism. Yet he once confided his formula for success: The personal bonding that comes from fun leads to proprietary deal flow. And the endorsement looms as a modest modification of the formula that’s served him so well. The personal bonding that comes from a proprietary deal flow leads to the backing of a major Illinois newspaper.