Sunday, October 08, 2006

Finally! A Newspaper War!

Steve Duin has called out Robert Pamplin, declaring him - in effect - a lying sack of gravel. Here's the key quote: "For years now, two mayors and a lot of citizens with an interest in the Willamette River have assumed Pamplin was a man of his word. It appears they misjudged him."

This is the break the Portland Tribune was looking for, if they just seize it. First some background: When I began my short tumultuous career as a Trib columnist, I thought it would be like "Front Page" with Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau. I thought the only way the Tribune could matter is by being fiery and a must-read from Day 1. I was told Robert Pamplin's son Bob founded the paper partly in response to his family's treatment by the Oregonian and I saw a newspaper war as a guaranteed way of making the Trib thrive. I jokingly suggested that the first headline should be "The Oregonian Sucks!" and the second headline should be, "No, Really! The Oregonian Sucks!"

Instead, they decided to play it safe - as if the paper were required reading. Their model seemed to be, "This gig is wired. We don't have to make money because Pamplin is willing to lose millions every year." There were no free market forces at work. Instead of being bold, the Trib, got fluffy. The only thing that was more fluffy was the big piles of money heading down the drain. I don't know how much they're making or losing now, but I would guess they're still in the red. And it's their own damn fault for being so meek. They could have had the Goldschmidt story - they could have had a Pulitzer by now.

The Willamette Week would take a shot at the Trib, and I'd ask to fire back. No, don't bother. We're way too genteel for all that. We don't want to stir up interest. Fortunately, I wrote two columns opposing the Iraq War and I was fired. That has become a real point of pride, although I'd enjoy it much more if so many American soldiers weren't being maimed and killed.

Sigh. I now see the Trib as a stepping stone - a place for me to learn more about writing while I waited for a dream gig like the Portland Freelancer blog to come along. Sometimes it's not about the money. I've got clients who pay me money for my jokes. This is about the ability to write without a bunch of substance filters in my head.

But oh, what fun we could have had, and oh, what might have been. Forget the people who used to work there. What exciting media Portland could have had with this. The people would have run to those green boxes to find out what came next. The low point for me was later, during a particularly active news week locally, when the Trib had a story about police horses, complete with a front page picture of a police horse eating some blossoms off a tree. Way to hit hard.

Now, it looks like Dwight Jaynes and the gang are going to have to do what they should have done from Day #1: Go after the Big Daily. Calling the Trib owner's Dad out has seen to that.

Up till now, the Oregonian has avoided any mention of the Trib except when it was absolutely necessary, and that was smart. The Willamette Week foolishly began following it from the beginning, although I think that's died way down. I hear rumors of another cover story, like the one that had Pamplin, Jr. on the cover before the Trib started, which would be great news for the Portland Tribune. Anything to raise the profile and let the relative newcomer more into the game.

That's what was wrong. The Trib's stance was always one of a frontrunner in a campaign who declines to debate the candidate who's way behind. Meanwhile, they were the ones way behind, and they still are. It didn't have to be like that, and if the money wasn't guaranteed they would have jumped in and started competing for real. Out with the fluff and in with the hard-hitting news. If you have a disadvantage with the news cycle because you only print twice a week, rely on your columnists. Don't fire them. Let them go off! Trib managers spent way too much time and money hedging their bets.

How crazy was it? They wouldn't let me use lines, so I would sell them to Leno and they'd be reprinted in the Oregonian. I was supposed to be competing against the Oregonian columnists and my stuff was in their paper. It was the definition of crazy. The columns needed to be big and they reigned me in. The columns should have been explosive and in your face like...well, like Steve Duin's this morning.

That's why Steve Duin's column today is so classic. He doesn't mention the Tribune of course - that's standard - but he calls out Bob Pamplin's Dad in no uncertain terms. He wrote this column like he was working for a paper that was way behind and felt it had to stir things up. That's why it's a potential opening. Now all we need is for the Tribune to strap on a pair and defend their owner's father. If they don't do that, no amount of fluff can save them.
The first of many broken promises

13 Comments:

At 2:09 PM, Blogger TR said...

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a Newspaper War. There was one back in the 60's with The Portland Reporter but that was mostly a union issue rather then a journalistic one. Willamette Weak survived by grabbing up all the Porn house and escort service advertising that The Oregonian wouldn't accept and does on occaision have a good feature story but it tries too hard to be hip which papers like The Portland Mercury manage effortlessly. The Portland Tribune grabbed up all the writers from the Oregonian who were either fired or quit but like you say it never did much with the talent. I think its a major embarassment to this city that a really good journalist like Phil Stanford works for the Portland Tribune and a hack like Jonathan Nicholas has his own column in The Oregonian. It is also an embarassment that more people in this town probably know Dulcey Maher better then her husband Ted Maher or Jean Auel better then Ursula LeGuinn, but I digress. My point is that the vast majority of Portlanders want what they are comfortable with and that is banality and mediocrity delivered daily. Portland is about as cutting edge as a very dull butter knife.

 
At 2:21 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

I can dream, can't I?
This is a little different. You have a columnist from one paper calling Pamplin out on his integrity. If the Trib plays it low-key and safe on this, that may turn out to be unsafe for them.

 
At 3:33 PM, Blogger TR said...

Sorry to rain on your parade I was using your blog to vent. If owned a Newspaper and The Oregonian made some snotty comments about me I'd want to come down on them like the wrath of god, but I'm vindictive.

 
At 4:51 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Tr- Vent away. There was a lot of good information in your comment.

 
At 5:15 PM, Anonymous butch said...

I bet the Trib won't touch it. Pretty devastating column by Duin. No way Pamplin is going to want to call more attention to it.

 
At 5:25 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

It will be interesting. They won't want to, but maybe the owner will demand it.

 
At 6:07 PM, Blogger QuidProQuo said...

I've got to go with Butch on this one. The Trib will give it a blind eye. Making a "war" of it isn't in Pamplin's best interest. Ignore it and it will go away. What's more, to most Portlanders "Ross Island" is just the name of a bridge. The island has been so inaccessible and out of the public domain for so long that it's like it only exists on Portland maps.

 
At 6:23 PM, Blogger Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

That whole "play it safe" mentality is exactly why all of Pamplin's media outlets–KZZZ (er, sorry, KPAM), The Tribulation–leave me so danged cold.

I remember how much fun K-snooze was to listen to in the beginning, and The Trial and Trib had such personality. Now–who cares? And they're living in the same boat of denial that they were then, only now they keep fooling themslves that they're relevant. They aren't of course; I only read that paper when I can't find any thing else to read.

Yeah, a newspaper war would have been fun. If only Pamplin had that sort of courage.

 
At 7:11 PM, Anonymous butch said...

I actually don't mind K-PAM's Bob Miller in the morning. I switch between him an Thom Hartmann during the commute.

 
At 7:15 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

The Tribulation. I love it. Actually, I don't blame this one on Bob. I guess management felt they could survive playing it safe, and you can't argue with the results. I guess the theory was that Pamplin would take the loss of money more than the loss of prestige should it fold. That's not a bad gamble.
Somewhere down the road though you'd think they would have to be a financial success. Be bold and mighty ad dollars will come to your aid.
It's ironic, because what went on there was 10 times more interesting than the paper itself, but all that energy and human drama was siphoned off, just prior to the product hitting the streets.
Why does the local media make Portland out to be a dull Pleasantville when it is so much more down and dirty than that? That's why Jack Bog took off - finally you could read about the real place, instead of some phony feel-good travel brochure.
There's no reason someone like Don Hamilton couldn't have rocked just as hard.
Generations from now, a researcher is going to browse through our back media pages and think, "My, what a stodgy little place." Meanwhile, the real Portland is so much more invigorating. We've got a city council who thinks it's all about them, when I can think of 50 Portlanders off the top of my head who are much more representative of this city.

 
At 7:33 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

I was reading a fascinating piece about how Cheney and Rumsfeld ran the exact same con about weapons of mass destruction with the Soviets.
They were just about to do this and that so we had to keep the huge defense budgets even though the real intelligence showed the Soviets collapsing.
The author...Thom Hartmann.

 
At 8:05 PM, Anonymous butch said...

That's why I love Thom Hartmann. I bet half of his - and AARs' - audience is conservatives that are entertained by the constant and consistent bitterness and pessimism of their outlook on life. Its pure Schadenfreude. That's probably why Limbaugh's ratings soared during the Clinton administration. Half of his listeners were probably liberals getting off on how bitter he was.

 
At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Tenskwatawa said...

Bill McDonald said... "con about weapons of mass destruction with the Soviets.
They were just about to do this and that so we had to keep the huge defense budgets even though the real intelligence showed the Soviets collapsing.The author...Thom Hartmann.


{Boldface set where it is an example of the unquestioning acceptance of two new W's in valid, believable, just-the-facts Journalism. Official (AP style) news items always requiring What, When, Where, Who, Why, (and How), for completeness and authenticity, have since about 1975, added Would and Will, (and dropped Why), and called it legitimate, actionable news.
"...they were just about to, Would be going to, Will next lead to ..." (something or other). FUTURE tense can NOT be a reported FACT.
It Will rain tomorrow. That is NOT FACT, it IS OPINION.
Yet we have murdered a million Iraqis and killed and destroyed tens of thousands of American mercenary soldiers and family and community lives, based on Where When What Saddam WILL DO, (can't say How -- since no WMD's; never said Why -- WHY is removed because a phony motive, which means one you never felt yourself, one WHY which if included shows the nonsense -- "they hate us," nonsense, WHY do they?, I don't hate a 'them' -- is the way you spot LIAR news, [favorite LIARS Larson line, "... if they get away with this, then next they WILL BE doing that, we WILL go down the slippery slope;" no, LIARS, slippery does NOT mean inevitable.] When wherever you find yourself believing how what news says Will or Would happen, won't or wouldn't, ask yourself: Why?) This year it is what Iran WILL do, and North Korea WILL do. LIAR news.}

I have an explanation that comprehends how WOULD and WILL got inculcated into, and WHY got censored out of, Legitimate News Items -- and that is the All and Whole of what is wrong with 'mass media,' very simply, but which no one can figure out, and so has everyone saying, 'what's wrong with the media, I don't understand.' Later. For now I've digressed enough. Go on and digress no more.

What I was out to say is this.

I can't tell when Hartmann is referring to -- is it the Rummy and Cheney Gang of the Geo. Hitler Worker Bush administration? The argument was NOT put forward at that point in time for keeping huge defense budgets, (it was put forward by the Program for a New American Century panel of G.H.W.B., who invented the PNAC idea, picked and assembled the persons, and mission'ed it all to find some excuse, (published result: 'forget communist, make up terrorist), for military killing power. Immediately after 1992, when Clinton beat him like a normal person clubs a fascist or steps on a cockroach.

Looking back to 1990-93 to see Why "real intelligence" is NOT used, Who started false CIA 'output,' and When, is looking too late. It started with the "B Team" sedition of G.H.W.B. through and after his Director of CIA time, all of one year: 1976.

(And it is not apart from some to suspect Hartmann of intentional redirection to 1990ish and Rummy-Cheney fall guys, from 1976 and G.H.W.B. being the culprit, when the globe-hopping itinerary of Hartmann's life and travels and timings, 1975-1990, say, sounds exactly like a B Team member's. To coin a new term: counter-misinformation, may describe what is being put out by today's sophisticated mass media popularized figures. I mean, he has written a lot of books, almost 'reference' quality. Why?)

And here (below) is a better-hung-together reference for the setting of G.H.W.B. starting the telling of LIES and calling them CIA data, (what?, the CIA is going to say, 'those aren't the secret informations, these are: ... and list the true secrets to defend the Agency? It is a very clever tactic to tell a lie and say it is a secret the CIA has, because the CIA is not allowed to say what the true data are.)

We take you back now to G.H.W.B.'s year of running the KGB, oops, CIA, 1976. In Congress, both the Pike-led (House) and Church-led (Senate) investigations into CIA outlaw acts had reached or were reaching the recommendation that Congress abolish the CIA. The curtain opens on the drama, the adventure, the SAGA ... what, no romance? Not when G.H.W.B.'s on the make, at least, not the way you think of romance.

Tarpley(dot)NET -- The Unauthorized Biography of George H.W. Bush, Chapter 15:

On October 6, bombs destroyed a Cubana Airlines DC-8 flying from Kingston, Jamaica to Havana, killing 73 passangers and crew, including the Cuban national fencing team which was returning from Venezuela. Anonymous callers to newspapers and radio stations claimed responsibility for CORU and Operation Condor, while Fidel Castro immediately blamed the CIA. Venezuelan police arrested CORU leaders Orlando Bosch (freed from jail in the US) and Luis Posada Carriles, whom we will later see as an associate of Bush operative Felix Rodriguez in Iran-contra.

During 1976, Ed Wilson, officially retired, had been working with CIA officials on a project to deliver explosives, timers, weapons, and ultimately Redeye missles to Qaddafi of Libya. Wilson was receiving assistance from active duty CIA agents, including William Weisenburger and from Scientific Communications, a CIA front company. Wilson was working with Clines, who was still on the CIA payroll. CIA man Kevin Mulcahy had reported to Theodore Shackley about Wilson's activities, and Shackley had informed deputy director William Wells, who in turned had passed the hot potato on to Inspector General John Waller. The result of this round was a probe of Mulcahy's report under Thomas Cox of Wallers' staff, assisted by Thomas Clines, of all people. On the basis of this in-house investigation, Bush on September 17 decided to pass the entire case on to the FBI.

Another aspect of Wilson's skullduggery was reported to Clines by Rafael "Chi Chi" Quintero, another fixture of the Enterprise, who complained that Wilson was trying to recruit him for an assassination attempt against "Carlos," the fabled international terrorist. Years later Wilson was given a long jail sentence, while his sidekick Frank Terpil went underground. What is essential here is that under Bush's administration, the CIA and its associated Enterprise and other old boys networks began to run amok along paths that lead us towards the Iran-contra affair and the other great covert action secret wars of the 1980's and 1990's.

During the last days of the Ford Administration, Attorney General Edward Levi had occasion to assert that the CIA's policy of refusing to turn documents and other evidence over to the Justice Department "smacked of a Watergate cover-up." This was in connection with the prosecution of one Edwin Gibbons Moore, who was allegedly trying to sell secret papers to the Soviet Embassy. The Bush CIA had refused to turn over various documents germane to this strange case.

During the Reagan years, Bush was given a much-publicized assignment as head of the South Florida Task Force and related efforts that were billed as part of a "war on drugs." In 1975, President Ford had ordered the CIA to collect intelligence on narcotics trafficking overseas, and also to "covertly influence" foreign offocials [sic] to help US anti-drug activities. How well did Bush carry out this critical part of his responsibilities?

Poorly, according to a Justice Department "Report on Inquiry into CIA-Related Electronic Surveillance Activities," which was compiled in 1976, but which has only partly come into the public domain. What emerges is a systematic pattern of coverup that recalls Lapham's spurious arguments in the Leletier case. Using the notorious stonewall that the first responsibility of the CIA was to shield its own "methods and sources" from being exposed, the agency expressed fear "that the confidentiality of CIA's overseas collection methods and sources would be in jeopardy should discovery proceedings require disclosure of the CIA's electronic surveillance activities." [fn 52] This caused "several narcotics invesitgations [sic]and'or prosecutions...to be terminated."

It was during 1976 that Bush met the Panamanian leader Manuel Antonio Noriega. According to Don Gregg, this meeting took place on the edges of a luncheon conference with several other visiting Panamanian officials.

This all makes an impressive catalogue of debacles in the area of covert operations. But what about the intelligence product of the CIA, in particular the National Intelligence Estimates that are the centerpiece of the CIA's work. Here Bush was to oversee a maneuver markedly to enhance the influence of the pro-Zionist wing of the intelligence community.

As we have already seen, the idea of new procedures allegedly designed to evaluate the CIA's track record in intelligence analysis had been kicking around in Leo Cherne's PFIAB for some time. In June, 1976, Bush accepted a proposal from Leo Cherne to carry out an experiment in "competitive analysis" in the area of National Intelligence Estimates of Soviet air defenses, Soviet missle accuracy, and overall Soviet strategic objectives. Bush and Cherne decided to conduct the competitive analysis by commissioning two separate groups, each of which would present and argue for its own conclusions. On the one, Team A would be the CIA's own National Intelligence Officers and their staffs. But there would also be a separate Team B, a group of ostensibly independent outside experts.

The group leader of Team B was Harvard history professor Richard Pipes, who was working in the British Museum in London when he was appointed by Bush and Cherne. Pipes had enjoyed support for his work from the office of Senator Henry Jackson, which had been one of the principal incubators of a generation of whiz kids and think tankers whose entire strategic outlook revolved around the stated or unstated premiss [sic] of the absolute primacy of supporting Israel in every imaginable excess or adventure, while frequently sacrificing vital US interests in the process.

The liason between Pipes' Team B and Team A, the official CIA, was provided by John Paisley, who had earlier served as the liaison between Langley and the McCord-Hunt-Liddy Plumbers. In this sense Paisley served as the staff director of the Team A-Team B experiment. Pipes then began choosing the members of Team B. First he selected from a list provided by the CIA two military men, Lieutenant General John Vogt and Brigadier General Jasper Welch, Jr., both of the Air Force. Pipes then added seven additional members: Paul Nitze, Gen. Daniel Graham, the retiring head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Professor William van Cleave of the University of Southern California, former US Ambassador to Moscow Foy Kohler, Paul Wolfowitz of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Thomas Wolfe of the RAND Corporation, and Seymour Weiss, a former top State Department official. Two other choices by Pipes were rejected by Bush.

Team B began meeting during late August of 1976. Paisley and Don Suda provided Team B with the same raw intelligence being used by National Intelligence Officer Howard Stoertz's Team A. Team B's basic conclusion was that the Soviet military preparations were not exclusively defensive, but rather represented the attempt to acquire a first-strike capability that would allow the USSR to unleash and prevail in thermonculear war. The US would face a window of vulnerability during the 1980's. But it is clear from Pipes' own discussion of the debate that Team B [fn 53] was less interested in the Soviet Union and its capabilities than in seizing hegemony in the intelligence and think tank community ...
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WHY do newspapers not report this?

Yesterday, AP reported a person charged with treason, first since WWII. Except Prescott Bush, father of G.H.W.B., was charged under the 1942 Trading With The Enemies Act, in 1951 and later, for Prescott's bankrolling loans to Hitler. Wasn't he?

 

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