Wednesday, February 27, 2008
By Ken Reich
When the unqualified Russ Stanton was named as lackey-editor of the L.A. Times by lackey-publisher David Hiller, he broadly hinted he would do in the Times national and foreign coverage, or at least sharply pare it.
This week, Tribune Co. owner Sam Zell, to whom Stanton and Hiller obsequiously report, dropped the other shoe. In an appearance at the Washington bureau, Zell said its staff (now 47) is "bloated" and suggested it should be smaller than the Times' Orange County staff. L.A. Times reporters and editors in Washington are said to have loudly objected.
It is more and more evident that Zell, a corrupt Chicago billionaire, has little regard for, and no understanding of the newspaper business. When he became Tribune Co. owner, he first said he would not cost cut his way to prosperity, but it has already become apparent he was lying.
Zell came to the Washington bureau at the same time as a memorial service for the retired Times Washington Bureau reporter Rudy Abramson. This offensive timing left the bureau staff, particularly the ones there when Abramson worked there, with a kind of Sophie's choice: They could honor their esteemed colleague, or they could listen to Zell. Some courageously did choose to honor Abramson by going to the service, and others stayed for Zell. It may have been just as well, had all gone to the service and boycotted Zell.
As usual, those who stayed for him found Zell a crass jackass. But at least he did not smoke any pot while he was at the bureau.
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Zell Threatens The L.A. Times Washington Bureau