Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ex-Scaife Velocity

So, It's talk like a pirate day, so, um ... Yar, you Scurvy Dogs.

But actually, I want to go with the other popular meme currently on the net, which is called "conservatives behaving badly". This meme involves highlighting some high-minded, vitriol-spitting conservative caught with his family values down around his ankles. It's fun, it's free, and apparently there is no danger of the number of targets drying up.

And this week's candidate comes from my neck of the woods in Western PA.

Richard Mellon Scaife is every bit as wealthy as someone named that should be. The middle name is on a number of schools, businesses, and part of one local university. The last name is up there locally as well, since it has naming rights on the Scaife Art Museum attached to Carnegie Museum (oh, sorry, (posh voice on)The CAH-nagie (posh voice off)). He's wealthy to the tune of 1.4 billion with a b, and the owner of a number of papers, including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Now the Trib-Review is an avowed and deeply unapologetic conservative rag, filled with barely-concealed hatred for liberals, democrats, and urban Pittsburgh. It showed up about fifteen years ago, when the two then-major newspapers (Press and Post-Gazette) were crippled by a strike. An extension of the Greenberg Tribune-Review, the Pittsburgh version found its place as a third newspaper, and eventually the second newspaper when the Press was swallowed by its sister. I always assumed the TR's message played well in the suburbs, and always seemed filled with wealthy people in tuxes at parties, swipes at anything to the left of Newt Gingrich, and colorized daily comics (an abomination in their own right, but not at the matter at hand).

Now Scaife and the TR were major participants in the persecution of the Clinton administration, relentless in their attacks, joyful in finally getting something to stick with his personal life. So, of course it is no surprise that while castigating the president for his extramarital relationship with an underling, Publisher Scaife himself had been involved in extramarital relationships with an underling. Now Scaife married the woman after getting wife #1 off stage left, but had the bad business sense not to get a prenup.

And you know where this is going. Wife #2 is pushing for divorce now, based on infidelity (History repeats - first as tragedy, then as farce). And the divorce is getting messy and, more recently, public. The rival Post-Gazette is a bit gleeful in its reporting, but Editor and Publisher picks up the slack in a measured, neutral tone.

And it turns out that she's calling the the Pittsburgh Trib-Review is a "hobby" in that her potential ex pumps 20-30 million a year into it, making it a heavily subsidized bit of propaganda. I think that its a bit much to call it a hobby, as there are businesses that lose a lot more for a lot longer (Murdoch and the NYPost, Rev. Moon and the Washington Times), but it does explain the newspapers' resilience over the years (and how they afford to color those daily comics badly).

When the whole impeachment thing went down, I kept hearing the talking heads on TV going on about how "In the real world, a CEO that did this would be put out on the street". And I chuckled, because even from my limited experience I knew that to be false (buy me a beer sometime - I have stories). And yeah, it's just one more bit of conservative hypocrisy, where those that shout the loudest seems to be those who are guilty the same crime, or worse. And it has the added joy of watching people with more money than god squabbling like fishwives.

But the fact that Trib-Rev has to be propped up with regular cash infusions? That's interesting. I wonder what else is going to drop out of the trees before they're done shaking it.

More later,