The rise and fall of the U-T

by Kenneth Leonard

Many students may not remember U-T San Diego when it was owned by Copley Press Inc. It’s hard to imagine, given the current state of the U-T, but there was a time when it was a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper. Sadly, those days are long gone and there is no telling if the U-T will ever return to its former status.

At the highest levels, the editors and publishers of the U-T are no longer interested in journalism. Instead, they are interested in producing something more akin to an ideological bulletin than anything resembling an actual newspaper.

Without question, the decline of the U-T is a direct result of its recent change of ownership. Real estate investor “Papa” Doug Manchester bought the U-T last November and as the Manchester era was ushered in, journalistic integrity was shown the door. Integrity is precisely what the U-T lacks under its current leadership. Manchester is a man who possesses ideology without principles. He is a man on a substantial soapbox without the slightest semblance of moral rectitude.

Case in point, a recent editorial titled “Obama in 2016? A choice for America!” rattled off slanderous and speculative attacks on the president. How bad was it? The editorial board predicted a second term for President Barack Obama would mean $8-to-$10 per gallon of gasoline, “death panels” for citizens older than 65, assaults on Israel spurred by a weakened American foreign defense policy, legislation ensuring taxpayer-funded late-term abortions, 60-to-70 percent tax rates for many Californians and a “war on God and life,” culminating in the removal of “In God We Trust” from symbols and currency.

Parades of unsubstantiated nonsense have become commonplace at the U-T. The U-T is a historically conservative newspaper and it is not uncommon to see conservative editorials. How- ever, the U-T’s current brand of conservatism is more Joe the Plumber (or perhaps Larry the Cable Guy) than the educated, measured conservatism of William F. Buckley or Leo Strauss. Unfortunately, the garbage mas- querading as conservatism in our culture gains unwarranted credibility when media outlets, such as the U-T put bad ideas and misinformation in print.

The U-T doesn’t welcome dissenting voices, either. Make no mistake — if you counter the Manchester agenda, you will be silenced. Take, for example, the sad case of columnist Tim Sullivan. Shortly after purchasing the U-T, Manchester told local news station JUSI, “Local newspapers need to be a cheerleader for what’s right and good for the country, such as promoting the new stadium or whatever … I felt that there’s been a lack of that here in San Diego. And so that’s one of the motivations.”

That’s right folks.

Apparently, the publisher of the largest newspaper in the eighth largest city in the U.S. believes the purpose of the newspaper is cheerleading for construction projects. Sul- livan dared to oppose the notion of a new stadium as necessary or profitable for San Diego and was subsequently fired from the paper. Think about this, dear reader. The U-T, whose publisher openly stated his intention to mold the newspaper into a tool for marketing a new stadium and whose President and CEO John Lynch called those opposed to a new stadium “obstructionists,” recently fired its only columnist who was condemnatory of a new stadium.

This isn’t a coincidence. The U-T has lost its credibility be- cause of a megalomaniacal owner and an editorial staff of spineless minions.

Oh, and Manchester just bought the North County Times, too. Needless to say, San Diego is in a dark age of journalism thanks to good ol’ Manchester.