June 11, 2012—New York Times media reporter/columnist David Carr has penned a largely critical review of “Papa Doug” Manchester’s media machinations since his purchase last year of the Union-Trib. The article starts out talking about the “growing worry” that the sickly state of dead tree journalism could create circumstances that would allow moneyed interests to take over newspapers and use their perceived integrity to “prosecute a political and commercial agenda.”
Carr goes on to assert that San Diego is Exhibit A for that fear since last year when Manchester purchased the paper, saying that nowadays the UT-SD “often seems like a brochure for his various interests.” He goes on to cite several examples where the Daily Fishwrap has transcended reportage and ridden roughshod over miscreants perceived to have gotten in the way of Papa Doug’s agenda. Chief executive John Lynch is quoted as saying “we make no apologies” for the paper’s activities and asserting that there is a “clear line of demarcation between our editorials and our news”.
The reaction around town was immediate and intense, with UT-SD reporter Matt Hall defending his journalistic integrity in an open letter on tumblr. My twitter feed filled up quickly with various local wags promoting the story or pointing its shortcomings.
Former UT-SD sports writer Tim Sullivan—whose trials at the paper are mentioned in the article—tweeted that (he’d) “realized a career goal by appearing in the New York Times. Unfortunately, not in the form of a byline.” SDCityBeat editor Dave Rolland lamented that his publication was excluded from Carr’s overview of the local media scene, while the Reader was mentioned as somehow being influential. And non-profit VOSD’s Scott Lewis worried about a San Diego without a daily paper, tweeting “People forget that I spend a lot of time raising money to pay journalists. It’s a grind. Last thing I want is to fill a bigger hole. Go U-T.”
What they all seem to be missing is that the Union, the Tribune (its former afternoon counterpart before the merger), the UT and whatever else you want to call it, have, for most of their history played exactly the role that Manchester now plots for the publication. Going back at least to the 1920’s, the paper’s owners have been mostly unabashed about their advocacy for their (and their friends’) financial interests. Only during the final years of the Copley era did the paper actually attempt to mask its agendas. The short reign of Platinum Equity’s ownership over the past two years was largely focused on restoring the brand’s value (which had suffered due to neglect in recent years) and building credibility for the UT as a news outlet.
How soon we forget. I remember the days when the local fishwrap was very open in its promotion of local millionaires’ schemes and ploys. Nearly overt criminal activity on the part of C. Arnholt Smith was studiously ignored—even as alternative press reporters ( I was one of them) printed exposé after exposé detailing his activities. The Copley family’s real estate interests were always protected and their social activities dominated the pages of the paper. Meanwhile, people of color couldn’t even make the obituary pages.
So, while the NYT story purports to be looking forward into a new and potentially perilous era for the local press, publisher Manchester’s program is actually more of the same for San Diegans.
One more thing. Manchester’s manipulation is spilling over into television. The paper ran a front page story on Friday announcing to the world that its station has been picked up by Cox cable. You will be able to watch what I’ll characterize as “fingernails across the blackboard” reportage and banter on Cox channel 114 come July.
Former President Richard M. Nixon came back from the dead with two big stories over the weekend. The Washington Post’s Woodward and Bernstein penned a piece entitled “40 Years After Watergate, Nixon Was Worse Than We Thought”. I didn’t find much in the way of news in the story, but thought it useful in the sense that much of their audience probably is only vaguely aware of what a big deal Watergate was.
There are some new revelations in an article written by Robert Parry over at Consortium News. Or perhaps I should say almost revelations. Or a story that should have happened but didn’t….
In late October 1968, Beverly Deepe, a 33-year-old Saigon correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, came upon a story that could have changed history. A six-year veteran covering the Vietnam War, she learned from South Vietnamese sources that Richard Nixon’s campaign was collaborating behind the scenes with the Saigon government to derail President Lyndon Johnson’s peace talks.
The story never ran as written. It was watered down by CSM editors who felt that it wasn’t strong enough to run in its original form. Now we’re told by Parry that the repercussions from that story could have changed the course of history, based on tapes of previously secret White House phone calls and accessing a onetime classified file at the LBJ presidential library in Austin, Texas. It’s fascinating look at the machinations of power inside the LBJ administration and the Nixon presidential campaign. Money quote:
… the course of the Republican Party and modern American politics might have been very different. The darkly paranoid Nixon might not have had the chance to infuse the GOP with his win-at-all-cost ethos. His campaign’s brazen attempt to ensure his victory in 1968 by sabotaging peace talks was so shocking then that Democrats shied away from discussing it publicly even after they found evidence.
Tommorrow… A look back at last week’s elections.
On This Day… In 1776 In America, the Continental Congress formed a committee to draft a Declaration of Independence from Britain. In 1966 Janis Joplin debuted on stage at the Avalon ballroom in San Francisco. And in 2001 Timothy McVeigh, the 1995 Oklahoma City bomber, was execute
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Escondido (Welk Resort 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive) 3 – 7 pm
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.