Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Hillary Sinks To New Low With Scaife Overture

Written From M.S. Prinsendam, approaching Ghana--

I've received criticism from pro-Clinton readers by comparing Hillary Clinton's qualifications for the Presidency with those of Bess Truman and Mamie Eisenhower. Perhaps, I should be more precise about this. All my experience as a political reporter indicates that Hillary would be another Robert Mugabe, a terror in power. It has taken the poor people of his country 28 years to get rid of Mugabe. Let's hope, if she should prevail, we don't have as hard a time getting rid of Hillary.

Hillary sunk to a new low this week with reports that she had made an overture to the rightwing newspaper publisher, Richard Mellon Scaife, in Pittsburgh, in an apparent attempt to convince Republican voters in the Pennsylvania primary to cross over and vote for her, ostensibly so that John McCain will have an easier opponent than Barack Obama.

It reminds me of City Councilman Arthur Snyder in Los Angeles years ago campaigning in a special state senate election that he would be more conservative than Newton Russell. But the day before the election mail suddenly appeared in Democratic voters' homes claiming he was more liberal than Russell. I plastered this all over in a Page one story the day of the election, and Russell won narrowly -- one of my proudest accomplishments as a reporter. Russell was a conscientious senator. Snyder would have been a horribly unscrupulous one.

I don't like phonies, and Hillary Clinton is as phony as a three-dollar bill. By contrast, Obama and McCain are honorable candidates. A choice between them, and the country can only win.

Aboard the ship, I've been getting in my stateroom early each morning a full electronic copy of the International Herald-Tribune every day for $1.95 a copy. The L.A. Times could lower its price to that amount from $3.95 and probably get many more subscribers on cruise ships.

But the Herald Tribune, owned now wholly by the New York Times, is an excellent newspaper, perhaps the best newspaper on foreign news now publishing.

Today, it reports that the Huffington Post is becoming the first Internet newspaper. In their understanding of the Internet, Adrianna Huffington has it all over L.A. Times publisher David Hiller. What progress are we making in getting rid of him?

I keep thinking on this trip about the loss of such wonderfully-creative and publicly-spirited L.A. Times reporters as Stephanie Simon, Henry Weinstein and Myron Levin. Perhaps some kind of award of gratitude should be made to these and others -- John Balzar, Alan Miller, Robert Welkos and Lee Hotz -- come immediately to mind, so that we can mark our great appreciation for all they brought to the paper. I'd certainly be willing, when I return, to contribute to the organization of such an award, and a ceremony, perhaps a dinner, to bestow it.

Are we going to wallow in the gutter with Sam Zell or David Hiller, or remembers the ones who truly created the L.A. Times?

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