We don’t need no stinkin’ newspaper!

By Norma Damashek / NumbersRunner

Here’s today’s top pick in the don’t need no stinkin’ category.  It’s called we don’t need no stinkin’ newspaper!

Doug Manchester’s high-flying plan to convert the entire San Diego region to a super-conservative privately-held corporation is highlighted by his latest acquisition of the North County Times (and affiliated Daily Californian).  Manchester makes no secret of his intention to capture the market of major news outlets — newspapers, TV, radio, and electronic/online.  Given his deep pockets, political objectives, and near-sociopathic super-size ego and ambitions, Manchester will undoubtedly do whatever it takes to get where he wants to be.

Manchester didn’t invent the quest for political control.  We all remember the Copley Press and the way they owned city politics — they were kingmakers for decades.  But who thought it could possibly get worse?  Then it did.  Now it is.

As a matter of fact, it’s downright humiliating that the public face of our cherished San Diego hometown is now delivered to the rest of the world via a jingoistic 4th rate (stinkin’) newspaper that makes no pretense of adhering to routine journalistic standards.  The person doing his best to make a laughingstock of San Diego is none other than our local SDSU graduate Doug Manchester.
In his other life, Manchester is a developer who has spent years on the prowl in our inland, coastal, and downtown regions, leaving his mark like a trail of scat throughout the greater San Diego Metropolitan Area.   And like other predatory opportunists, this new owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune treads where he has no business treading (ethically speaking).

Now he’s ready for the kill.  Aside from ownership of prime properties, newspapers of record, and the airwaves, Manchester’s most strategic acquisition occurred this past season with his official and financial sponsorship (purchase?) of Carl DeMaio for mayor.  The terms of this contract are blunt: Manchester crowns DeMaio king and Manchester finally becomes…god.  Okay, not god with a capital G.  More like the kind they used to have in the glory days of ancient Greece.

A god like Zeus, maybe.  Ruler of the sky.  Feared.  Powerful.  Erratic. Erotic. Infuriating to his wife.  Coupling, screwing, seducing whatever takes his fancy — goddesses, queens, princesses, even the Trojan prince Ganymede.  Fathering babies.  Deflowering the young.  Coming on as a bull, swan, satyr, eagle…in  shower of gold.

Doug Manchester is not the only modern-day would-be avatar of Zeus.  It appears that San Diego’s Doug Manchester is linked in spirit to another notable (if foreign) personality through a set of common traits, professional interests, and hearty lust for the high life.  I’m thinking of Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi.  These two also share strong Catholic principles deploring gay marriage.  Around the same time Manchester put $125,000 on the line to prevent same-sex marriage in California Berlusconi was explaining, “I have a grueling work schedule and if I happen to look pretty girls in the face now and then, well then, it’s better to be a fan of pretty women than to be gay.”  
If you’d like a better feel for the personality of Doug Manchester, go no further than the following self-aggrandizing description:

Papa Doug is chairman of Manchester Financial Group. He is a true industrialist with accomplishments on a national and international scale in telecommunications, radio broadcast, medical instrumentation, publishing, and real estate development. Papa Doug is considered father of the San Diego Convention Center after his generous contribution of the property for its development. The completion of the second largest Marriott and Hyatt hotels in the world anchored its success and gave birth to the vast downtown redevelopment still continuing today.

In addition to the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina and the Manchester Grand Hyatt, his investment and development projects include The Grand Del Mar Resort & Spa, Manchester Executive Center, Manchester Financial Building, and the Whitetail Lodge and Golf Club, and soon a convention center hotel in Austin, Texas. Papa Doug was the catalyst for the now famous Biotech cluster at Torrey Pines. Currently, Papa Doug is Chairman and Publisher of the San Diego Union Tribune.

For purposes of comparison take a look at the description of the other wannabe Zeus, Silvio Berlusconi:

Silvio Berlusconi an Italian politician and media tycoon who served three times as Prime Minister of Italy from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011. Berlusconi is also the controlling shareholder of Mediaset (an Italian-based mass media which is the largest commercial broadcaster) and owner of A.C.Milan (a professional Italian football club).  He has many nicknames, but the most commonly used are Silvio, Il Cavaliere: (The Knight)

… Berlusconi was criticised for his dominance over the Italian media whilst he held political office.  His broadcasting company Mediaset is the largest in the country and one of the biggest in Europe.  Berlusconi never fulfilled his election promises to sell off his assets in the company to avoid a conflict of interest.  His leadership was also undermined by sex scandals. 

Mere mortals did not fare well under Zeus.  Sociopathic personalities (sociopath: a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience) when hooked up with delusions of grandeur are inevitably harmful to the public health.

A DeMaio/Manchester combination is a toxic duo and harmful to the public health.  Heed this warning: Carl DeMaio in office means Doug Manchester as mayor.  The only potent antidote lays in the hands of the voters.

Equally toxic and harmful to the public health is a stinkin’ newspaper (more stinkin’ than ever before) that distorts, manufactures, and hides the facts from the public and wantonly infuses editorial opinions into places that should be limited to strict objective reporting.

How about this for the start of a good new myth: Once upon a time a beneficent philanthropist (looking for a tax shelter or a business loss, something like that) becomes a modern-day god(dess) of wisdom and enlightenment by raining down on San Diego a shower of gold to support a decent city newspaper, edited by fair-minded individuals and staffed by a crew of inquisitive, smart, and professional reporters.  Combined with a responsible mayor in office, San Diego would stand a chance of becoming a coastal Olympus.

We already have an excellent choice for mayor.  It’s Bob Filner.  Transforming the rest of the story into reality is still in the offing.  Anyone out there up for the challenge?

Norma Damashek is a long-time civic activist who focuses on promoting decision-making that serves the public good. She has spearheaded community-based coalitions and served on city and regional-government task forces and as past president of San Diego’s League of Women Voters. She opines on her website NumbersRunner.


  1. avatarbob dorn says

    Dougchester’s purchase of No County Times is a bet that a minority Republican and suburban population can outlast a growing Democratic and urban one. What he doesn’t know is that even the conservatives out in the suburbs are looking for a good newspaper. It might not be long before they get one, and Dougchester will have lost a small part of his treasury chasing his outsized fantasies.

    • avatarnorma says

      Yes, it really is a sad situation. Pitiful might be an even better word to describe what’s going on in our city.
      But all is not lost — not when there’s an editor at the SD Free Press with a sense of humor wicked enough to come up with such great illustrations. Laughter may end up being our best defense.

  2. avatarkd says

    “makes no pretense of adhering to routine journalistic standards” … just like every other liberal leaning major city newspaper….it makes your blood boiled to not have the UT be one-side liberal, huh? now you see how the rest of the world feels having to read major liberal newspapers like the NY Times and listen to all the liberal TV news…it’s not very fun, it it? nope.

  3. avatarSarah says

    please, “The only potent antidote *lies* in the hands of the voters.” …especially when writing about writing!