Monday, March 26, 2007

Martinez Tries LAT Sabotage And NYT's Carr Buys It

For once, I got it exactly right. Three days ago in this blog, I predicted, "We can expect that now, like (Michael) Kinsley before him, (Andres) Martinez will industriously try to smear the newspaper which gave him employment in the first place. Kinsley has pursued a vendetta against the Times, and to some extent all newspapers, and now Martinez will too."

Both of these goofy jackasses -- oops I meant former distinguished journalists -- are at it this morning, and who have they taken in but media columnist David Carr of the New York Times.

Carr writes a lengthy article in the NYT business section that quotes both Martinez and Kinsley at some length, but scarcely pays any attention to the views of reporters in the newsroom who ably showed management last week that Martinez was guilty of severe ethical transgressions in dating a Hollywood publicist while retaining her client to edit some of his editorial pages.

Carr portrays the Times as threatening to destroy itself with internecine warfare when, in fact, the news staff has engaged in a gallant fight for years now to maintain the quality of the Times against both the depredations of Chicago numb skulls who hate California and seemed determined to wreck the newspaper, and internal screw-ups like Kinsley and Martinez.

Martinez was a deformity that needed to be cut out of the paper in order to save it. It is as simple as that. Now, the best thing to do is to ignore his fulminations. (As also the fulminations of former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, who disliked Times reporters who wrote about shortcomings in his administration, while liking Martinez as a patsy).

I don't suppose that Martinez has an in with Carr because he once worked at the New York Times himself, is an Easterner at heart, and dislikes California for its innate superiority over New York. Not a chance, ha ha. But let's face it, New Yorkers can be counted upon to give all California institutions short shrift.

Now, at long last, as early as this week, the Tribune Co., which bought the Times-Mirror newspapers in 2000, might be about to give them up.

The apparent favorite candidate to buy Tribune is another Chicagoan, real estate magnate Sam Zell, who the New York Times also has a long article about this morning.

Chicagoans will try to hold on, even getting another Chicagoan to take control, perhaps, to keep the Times from being home owned. Also, this morning, James Rainey has a story in the L.A. Times business section reporting that Ron Burkle and Eli Broad, California billionaires who have made a bid to buy Tribune, are complaining to the Tribune board that it withheld from them financial information which it gave Zell, to facilitate his bid.

Burkle and Broad may sweeten their offer, just as Zell has, and the result could be the kind of bidding war for Tribune that Wall Street stock analyst Lauren Rich Fine once predicted would never take place.

It is also possible that Zell might obtain control of Tribune and then resell the Times part of the company. Zell, unlike Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons, is no fool, and can be counted upon to maximize his business opportunities, which Tribune has not done.

We can only wait and see what happens. But while we wait, Tribune failures at the Times continue. Today, L.A. Observed is quoting a source as saying the latest downgrading of the Times by cost cutting Tribune will be to terminate next month the TV Times which already has been grossly cut back. Shame on FitzSimons and the publisher he foisted on Los Angeles, David Hiller!

But in the meantime, we shouldn't despair of the future of the L.A. Times. It remains highly profitable, it has a great future ahead once it has sound leadership, and unity, which the departure of Martinez is a step toward bringing about and the sale of Tribune could only aid.

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