Monday, December 18, 2006

The Inept CEO, Dennis FitzSimons, May Be Plotting To Keep Control of the L.A. Times

I have, I think quite generously and in understated language, called Dennis FitzSimons, the CEO of the Tribune Co., head of an "axis of stupidity." All you have to do is look at his photo in the Business section of today's L.A. Times to realize he is not very bright. He has that wide-eyed stare of the very ignorant.

In any case, here is a man who has been in control of one of the nation's great newspapers, the L.A. Times, but has been responsible for driving the newspaper into the ground, foolishly cutting it back every way he could think of, and has therefore presided over a declining stock price and has come under pressure to sell out, and take his lack of talent elsewhere.

But, judging from Jim Rainey's story in the Times this morning, FitzSimons seems to want to hold on.

This is a little like Mussolini holding on. The Italian dictator hung on so long he ended up dangling feet up and dead as a door nail, the victim of his outraged fellow countrymen. I certainly wish a better fate for FitzSimons. If he clears out now, he can take a golden parachute and go home and live with his family, where he probably would do less harm than he has up to now.

But, according to Rainey, as the Chandler family desperately tries to recoup its fortunes from its dramatically dumb move in 2000 to sell Times-Mirror to the Tribune Co., with perhaps its own offer to buy back parts of the company, FitzSimons is working with Wall Street investment firms on a leveraged buyout of the Tribune Co.

Here's a man who's too blind to know what a fool he's been or how poor his prospects are.

Under FitzSimons, there's no way this company, and all its newspapers and tv stations, to go but down. If he succeeds in holding on, not only the L.A. Times, but all his enterprises will be wrecked.

David Geffen, the entertainment mogul, has made a perfectly-sound, all cash offer for the Times. If FitzSimons had any smarts at all, he would take it.

But we all know he has no smarts.

This is a sad story -- how the most inept, screwy managers maintain themselves.

I think it's time for the U.S. Justice Department to get involved, so that an investigation might push FitzSimons into a sale, before he blunders so badly he has to follow Enron executives, such as Jeffrey Skilling, into a longtime jail term.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any anecdotes from less than 60 years ago Ken? Mussolini??? That's why the Times keeps losing readers, no one under the age of 50 relates to your WWII era references. Is there anyone on the Times writing staff who is under 30? You know, the demographic that actually buys things full retail?

12/19/2006 12:30 PM  

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