May Conrad Black and David Radler Rot In Hell

And there be forced to make night cop calls on Saturdays, in search of a crucial piece of information for an A-1 story, and may no one ever, ever, ever agree to comment:

The bankruptcy comes on the heels of a proxy fight that led to the
ouster earlier this year of almost all of Sun-Times Media’s former
board members, and the subsequent exit of CEO Cyrus Freidheim, the
turnaround expert brought in two years earlier to revive the company’s

Freidheim had been given the unenviable job of cleaning up the mess
left after Conrad Black and his lieutenant, David Radler, diverted
millions of dollars’ in company revenue into their own pockets.
Sun-Times’ fortunes were also damaged by an embarassing and costly
circulation-overstatement scandal that occurred when Radler was
publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Black and Radler were eventually covicted on criminal fraud charges and
jailed, but the financial fallout from their actions has been an
additional burden as Sun-Times Media fought to stay viable in a
newspaper industry that has seen its century-old financial model

Full disclosure: I worked for these folks, and continue to work for the company now mercifully free of them on a freelance basis, just in case anybody was unclear where my burning rage at newspaper mismanagement that then calls itself a “revenue decline” or blames “changing tastes of readers” comes from. Who needs the Internet to kill journalism when you have clowns like this walking away virtually unscathed?

I mean, Uncle Conrad’s enjoying prison just fine, thanks for asking:

Black, a member of the British House of Lords who on Tuesday checked
a year off his 6-1/2 year sentence for fraud and obstruction of
justice, said he’s made his time in prison not only bearable, but
intellectually stimulating by teaching other inmates, writing books and
articles, reading and learning to play the piano.

In an e-mail
interview with the Toronto-based National Post newspaper, Black said
from the federal prison in Coleman, Fla. that there was no violence and
“everyone tries to make conditions for everyone as decent as possible.”

“It is not difficult to find interesting people to talk to and I have time to read and write,” he said.

AndDavid Radler’s already home free:

The disgraced media baronConrad Black‘s
long-standing business partner, David Radler, has been released from a
Canadian prison after serving less than a year of a 29-month sentence
for plundering millions of dollars from investors.

Let’s have a “Chicago Journalism Town Hall” panel to talk about how Google is stealing from us! Fuck iPhones! You suck, college kids! Nobody wants to pay for quality journalism anymore! I don’t see any bloggers at the local zoning board meetings! The Internet is a cesspool of opinion and false information! I hate pixels! *fap fap fap* Craig Newmark ruined our lives!

It is unconscionable to have the discussion we are having when what is happening is happening. It is irresponsible. It is MAD. It is a failure of leadership on every level from people who claim they love newspapers but don’t know a damn thing about them, and they can yell all they want about the changes in the market. Increasingly and to my immense satisfaction people are no longer buying their bullshit. The evidence of criminal neglect and dereliction of even a semblance of duty is finally stinking up the doorstep of society enough that ordinary people can’t ignore the smell.

Present consumers with this rotting corpse and say it’s our fault it’s dead. Please. You killed it, assholes, and you did it over and over, for years. You did it on purpose and you did it despite advice from everyone you knew, and you did it with a smug smile on your rich face, and you ruined the lives of people who got up every day and went to work in spite of your idiocy because they cared about the world around them and wanted to make it better. You did it. So don’t come to us now and try to pretend we didn’t want to save it. Every time we revived it you were right there with the axe.

And as for Black and Radler: Saturday morning morgue duty is too good for you. Sunday night cutline writing’s too good for you. Sweeping the goddamn newsroom floor after everybody’s left on election night is too good for you. I don’t know what you deserve but I hope so very much that one day you get it good and hard.



24 thoughts on “May Conrad Black and David Radler Rot In Hell

  1. Breaking rocks for 20 years or so sounds good to me. Man, I hate Conrad Black, and your essay just gave me a whole bunch of reasons to hate him even more. I hate him because he’s a whiny, entitled SOB who thinksentire nations should just bend over backwards for him, because he’s C*O*N*R*A*D B*L*A*C*K, dammit, and don’t you forget it.
    He gave up his Canadian citizenship under duress because he wanted to accept a British title and couldn’t wheedle the Canadian government into bending the law for him (he tried, and was pissed and got airtime to tell the world how pissed he was that it didn’t work). This was after years of badmouthing Canada as being insufficiently “business-friendly” (aka unregulated neocon Somalia-with-running-water paradise) for him. Then when it looked as though the Brits were going to toss him in jail, he came back and asked for his Canadian citizenship back. I believe the official government response was, “Ha! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!” On top of that, he also once said that one of his own staffers, former National Post columnist Linda McQuaig, should be “horsewhipped on national television.” Personally, I find it unsurprising that Conrad Black has power fantasies about horsewhipping female liberals, live on tv.
    The word “scum” is really too good for him, and it’s practically an insult to right-thinking scum everywhere to call him that.

  2. And I assume the prison he is in is a “white collar” prison that the conservatives always complain about.

  3. “You killed it, assholes, and you did it over and over, for years. You did it on purpose and you did it despite advice from everyone you knew, and you did it with a smug smile on your rich face, and you ruined the lives of people who got up every day and went to work in spite of your idiocy because they cared about the world around them and wanted to make it better.”
    Thank you.

  4. I made the mistake of reading one of Black’s utterly obnoxious National Post editorials online last week. The guy has always been despicable, and his unbelievably inflated sense of self-worth just makes him even more hateful.
    He and Barbara Amiel should be forced to live the rest of their worthless lives living in a shantytown, picking maggots off of the garbage they eat, wading through streams of human filth.

  5. Well, they’re robbing you blind. Blind because after the newspapers are all read, nobody will be able to see anything, not even the little they see now. So there’s that, and the looting, too. It’s a two-fer!
    And yes, the only job I love without unreservedly was on a newspaper, and fuck these asshats sideways unlubed for killing them.

  6. Oh, I know what they deserve. Cleaning out the latrines for the drunk tank at the city jail on Saturday night.
    and a life time ban from ever having ANYTHING to do with the newspaper business ever again.

  7. Sounds a lot like the same damn theory of “management” that gave us the world financial crisis.
    Precisely Dan. And it’s not just newspapers, it’s greed run wild in just about every sector of the american economy.

  8. As a soon-to-be-former McClatchy drone, I couldn’t agree more. They have sucked pretty much every available drop out of our little paper, and within weeks, a century-old business will all but cease to exist.
    Which is sad enough. But the fact that this business could be easily viable if it were family-owned (or, gasp, worker-owned) makes the situation even more galling.
    Instead, regular folks like me get to lose their jobs because McClatchy needs to service the big stinkin’ pile of debt it took on when it decided it was a good idea to ingest the corpse of Knight-Ridder.
    Stupid, useless, greedy fuckers all around…

  9. Sounds a lot like the same damn theory of “management” that gave us the world financial crisis.
    Precisely Dan. And it’s not just newspapers, it’s greed run wild in just about every sector of the american economy.

    So what do we do about it? Seriously–is there anything we can do in terms of activism that would help turn this fucked up ship around? Because I’d really like to leave a better world for my nieces and nephews, and it seems to me that fixing *this* would do more to accomplish that than anything else.
    Call me naive, but I’m willing to give it a go if somebody has an idea.

  10. Google and blogs are not killing newspapers. Craig’s List is killing newspapers.
    The business plan of newspapers is that it is a local advertising monopoly that subsidizes news reporting. With the creation of Craig’s List, they no longer have that monopoly. I cannot imagine the last time I ever heard anyone talk about looking in the Classifieds of the local paper.
    Given this loss of revenue, they cannot continue to subsidized news. The solution is not to prop up newspapers — that advertising business model is never coming back. Instead, we need to be looking at alternate ways to subsidizing reporters (be it freelance, non-profits, or centralized news gathering agencies).

  11. >Uncle Conrad’s enjoying prison just fine, thanks for asking
    Somehow, he’s still able to write a full-page or so for the National Post.
    This Saturday, March 28, a screed against George Galloway.
    Last Saturday, a love letter to Anne Coulter.
    Sorry if this further angers you, but it is what it is.
    Cue the Dillinger quote about the easiest way to rob a bank is to run a bank.

  12. Cleaning up rancid vomit clinging to the insides of a drunk-tank commode after an especially saturnalian Saturday night? Not punishment enough! Not punishment enough unless Lord Black and Devil Radler were forced to scrub it glistening with just toothbrushes held between their teeth, and a fiendish minion repeatedly pressed his cloven hoof upon their precious necks and forced their haughty noses into the fetid puke again and again forever and ever Amen! Oh for a hellish Saturday night never-ending, with drunken retching evermore, if such a punishment were possible.

  13. We should have known that someone with that name would be bad.
    – Former employee

  14. The business plan of newspapers is that it is a local advertising monopoly that subsidizes news reporting. With the creation of Craig’s List, they no longer have that monopoly. I cannot imagine the last time I ever heard anyone talk about looking in the Classifieds of the local paper.
    Craiglist needs to open a newspaper. And make enough money to do it. Has anyone mentioned this to them?

  15. Oh, what a lovely thing your post is. And yes, commentor’s, it is the same thing wrong across many businesses in the US. Remember it was Republicans that brought you this sandwich, which we now all get to eat. And the elites running our government don’t seem to get that the gig is up, they are still trying to protect the rich and the “status quo” of the rich and powerful NOT having to pay any real price for their folly. Look at Geithner and his Wall Street buddies saying that the taxpayer has to save the bankers, while at the same time treating the people who actually manufacture something of value, our US car industry, like the scum on their jackboots…
    Ain’t that America, as John Mellencamp says. It pays to watch who you vote for…

  16. Right on. I would just like to add, the rot at newspapers extends downwards, too. It’s not a healthy body with a diseased mind. It’s a reptile species on its last moribund legs.
    I went for an internship at a big-city newspaper (one now being held up as a model for the future). I had been college newspaper editor and thought I had a good set of clips, and had a great recommendation from the newspaper advisor, a former editorial board member there. More importantly, I thought, I had absolute passion, a willingness and eagerness to devote myself fully to a cause, daily newspaper journalism.
    The recommendation got to an interview. At the interview, I was informed that they just gave me the interview to be nice. At their organization, they didn’t hire anyone for an internship or entry-level position unless they had a four-year journalism degree in the area of the position.
    That was seven years ago. I didn’t pursue newspaper work, for that and other reasons, such as at that time the shitstorm was visible over the horizon already. SO I say, fuckum. Let them fail. Go the way of the dinosaurs.

  17. One clue to why this company went Chapter 11 is that it hired near-illiterate emotionally unbalanced adolescents for editorial positions. E.g., the writer of the above post. Take away the stupidity & the blind hatred, and there’s nothing left to this writer.
    Very, very few people would pay money to read the non-thoughts of Athenae.

  18. Thank you Athenae for expressing what so many of Black and Radler’s victims feel.

  19. Ah can unnerstan’ th’ feelin’s of them who’d like thet real English lo’d Kinadian feller Conrad Black t’be locked up fo’ twenty years, but spare a thunk fo’ th’ ress of us honess criminals who hafta share a cell block wif th’ conceited varmint.
    Ah sure wish he’d git outta hyar as soon as postible. He is a cornceited son of a bitch, who’d talk th’ hind leg off a mule wif trimenjus long wo’ds thet few unnerstan’.
    Th’ slammer is not th’ same fo’ ev’ryone, eifer. Power an’ wealth matter on th’ inside as well. Thet’s whuffo’ th’ real English lo’d Kinadian feller has almost unlimited e-mail an’ Internet access, gits as menny visits as he be hankerin’, but ah cain’t even git permisshun t’write a monthly column fo’ th’ Booger Holler Clarion, as enny fool kin plainly see. It sho’nuff ain’t right.

  20. I din’t want to yell at the unemployed reporters at the Rocky Mnt. News who over and over and over again blamed the public for their downfall, at the same time saying how much they loved their readers.
    Stockholm Syndrome, anyone?
    They worked for the madmen who wanted double-digit profits, who used every shady trick in the book to plump up their circ stats (like the goddamn free newspapers that they threw on everyone’s lawn, just begging a burglar to sit up and notice), then bent antitrust law to get swallowed up by a competitor who’d like nothing better to break the unions of all his papers? And the public’s at fault for that?
    The public paid for its subscriptions, while the money men gamed advertisers who jumped ship to online sources or anyone else who’d give them better proof they reached eyeballs. If all the papers went to online subs from the beginning, they’d be out of business sooner, either through the legal cost of pursuing every quoting blogger like the RIAA does with music, or through the lack of influence they’d have when people could get away with browsing online rather than looking at newsprint.

  21. This is the same song as we had when I worked for Journal Register Company.
    The problem is the business model is no longer sustainable and a new way of financing editorial content must be found.
    I have my own news site in New Jersey dedicated to hyper-local coverage.
    It may never replace print, but I think it will become the future of reporting in many towns across the country.
    How the business will work remains a mystery.
    I’m trying several different things from traditional advertising to an online honor box that lets readers pay what they feel the content is worth (minimum $2 through PayPal).
    The current crisis is getting to be less about surviving as a professional journalist dedicated to the community and more about saving the fourth estate as a whole.
    Yes, past industry leaders ignored the “iceberg” warnings and steamed ahead with focus groups, marketing experts and the like.
    As a result, print journalism became one of the only industries in the nation where the end product became smaller as the price went up (Washington Post had a great editorial on this a few years back).
    I will always believe that good content will inevitably win the day and intelligent journalism will survive in the end.

  22. I did note several words in your comments that are not in the AP style book. It appeard you have lower yourself to David’d level and forgot to mention Black never spent a dime on the Sun-Times. I attended the last STMG stockholder meeting for some comic relief. Looking over the board I realized that I had more real newspaper experience that the entire board combined. I mentioned this Cyrus the great and he said he would like to talk to me about some of my observations, but he had no money. I asked him if he could take a few bucks out of his over inflated salary and pay me.

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