Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Zell Ethos

Turns out the Tribune's troubles are connected to today's indictment of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges:
In a November 11 intercepted call, Harris allegedly told Blagojevich that Tribune Financial Advisor talked to Tribune Owner and Tribune Owner "got the message and is very sensitive to the issue." Harris told Blagojevich that according to Tribune Financial Advisor, there would be "certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming and, reading between the lines, he's going after that section." Blagojevich allegedly responded. "Oh. That's fantastic." After further discussion, Blagojevich said, "Wow. Okay, keep our fingers crossed. You're the man. Good job, John."

In a further conversation on November 21, Harris told Blagojevich that he had singled out to Tribune Financial Advisor the Tribune’s deputy editorial page editor, John McCormick, “as somebody who was the most biased and unfair.” After hearing that Tribune Financial Advisor had assured Harris that the Tribune would be making changes affecting the editorial board, Blagojevich allegedly had a series of conversations with Chicago Cubs representatives regarding efforts to provide state financing for Wrigley Field.

(emphasis added)
So it is alleged, in effect, that Sam Zell's ethics seeped downward in the newspaper's chain of command to the presently anonymous "Tribune Financial Advisor," as surely as it is alleged Blagojevich's ethics were embraced by his assistant, John Harris. Nothing should surprise about this.

When someone who doesn't care about newspapers buys one solely out of greed, the ethos will spread. Sooner or later, everything goes on the auction block, including editorial integrity.

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