Harold Meyerson Says Zell Should Be Jailed
"Great newspapers take decades to build,"Meyerson writes. "We are discovering that they can be dismantled in relatively short order...In Zell, what Los Angeles has is a visiting Visigoth, whose civic influence is about as positive as that of the Crips, the Bloods and the Mexican Mafia. Life in San Quentin sounds about right."
Sounds a little extreme. Zell is a Chicago slumlord who didn't know anything about newspapers when he took over a few months ago, and has learned nothing since. Apparently, also, like his predecessor, Dennis FitzSimons, he also seems to bear a deep grudge against Los Angeles, or perhaps just a recognition that Los Angeles is a superior city to Chicago.
But if he would just sell out to some more socially responsible party, like Anthony Pellicano, I'd be inclined to forgive him. No jail term (as long, at least, as he paid back all the employees he had laid off).
What is the proof that Zell and his crew, Randy Michaels, David Hiller, the ignorant Russ Stanton, don't mean well is that even in the things they have promised to improve, like the Times Web site, there has been little or no improvement.
I was thinking about this the other day when I noticed that, unlike the New York Times Web site, the L.A. Times Web site doesn't list on its main page the columns that are running that day.
The New York Times editors are intelligent enough to realize that this is the era of the columnist. People want opinions, and the New York Times writers who stand out are Tom Friedman, Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich, Roger Cohen and others. When they appear, they are showcased.
The L.A. Times has some good columnists too -- Steve Lopez, George Skelton, Tim Rutten. Sandy Banks, David Lazarus. Yet, its woeful Web site isn't showcasing them.
There is a strong indication here that in revamping the paper, Zell, Hiller and Stanton are off on the wrong tack. They are fucking up the paper, not improving it.
As Meyerson writes, "A paper that is both an axiom and an ornament of Los Angeles life, that helps set the political, business and artistic agenda for one of America's two great world metropolises, is being shrunk and, if Zell continues to get his way, dumbed down."
Is this a jailable offense? I think not. Like most incompetents, they don't mean to do poorly. They are just screw ups who ought to pay with their jobs.
The days we could ride people like this out on a rail are probably behind us.
Still, if they have to be jailed, San Quentin is too good for them. I favor the maximum security federal prisons in Florence, Colorado and Marion, Illinois, where conditions are so rigorous many of the inmates go mad.
One possible grounds for jailing Zell would be his past record of virulent pot smoking. In reading the back issues of the Times since returning from my African cruise, I noticed the case of the poor San Diego woman who escaped from jail on drug offenses in 1976, led a salutary life as a wife and mother in San Diego all these years, but has now been discovered and is being sent back to prison, maybe for years.
It would be so much more socially desirable for Zell, Michaels, Hiller and Stanton to go in her stead. They too could use a bucket as a toilet. Now, we need the grounds. Could killing the Times be one?
Labels: Tribune failures