Media Bankruptcy Back Stories

Bankrupt McClatchy newspaper chain specializes in fake news, political bias.

Last week, the McClatchy Co. filed for bankruptcy, as Kevin G. Hall explained in the chain’s flagship Sacramento Bee, “a move that will end family control of America’s second largest local news company and hand it to creditors who have expressed support for independent journalism.”

The chain operates 30 newspapers nationwide and a bureau in Washington D.C. but as the Bee’s Dale Kasler explained, “the 21st century has been hard on the McClatchys. An ill-timed $4.4 billion acquisition of the Knight Ridder chain in 2006 left The McClatchy Co. deeply in debt just as the newspaper industry’s fortunes started crumbling in the digital era.”

Crumbling fortunes in the internet era did not set the mighty McClatchy chain apart from other newspapers. Neither did McClatchy’s collaboration with the Russia hoax, enablement of  fake news, and political bias in favor of the Democrat party. Sometimes that bias is in the open, as in the Bee’s hiring of opinion editor Gil Duran, a former press secretary for California Gov. Jerry Brown and communications director for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco Democrat. In other cases, the bias is more cleverly disguised.

Last October 26-27 a Belgian Malinois named Conan accompanied U.S. special forces as they took down ISIS terrorist Abu al-Baghdadi. In the aftermath, a column headlined “Humans may use animals for war, but we mustn’t abuse them,” appeared in the October 29 Sacramento Bee, reading like something from the ASPCA.

As author Markos Kounalakis explains, whether human lives are worth more than pets is “a debate worth having,” and “we are increasingly deploying eagles, dogs and dolphins against growing tech threats, big bombs and drone delivery systems.” Trump was the obvious target but readers couldn’t be sure about the author.

In some McClatchy papers Kounalakis was identified as someone who “grew up with farm dogs” and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. The Sacramento Bee did not identify Markos Kounalakis as an Obama appointee, a Clinton supporter, or the husband of California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis.

Eleni, in turn, is the daughter of real-estate tycoon Angelo Tsakopoulos, a major donor to the Clintons and Democrat party. In 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton swore in Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary. That paid off in Eleni’s 2018 run for Lt. Governor of California.

As the Lt. Gov’s official site explains, “Dr. Markos Kounalakis is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated foreign affairs columnist, author, and scholar. In 2017, “President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Kounalakis to the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.”  No word that Dr. Markos pulled front-line media duty in the Russia hoax.

“Presidential debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton included a third participant: Vladimir Putin, standing in the background, stealthily inserting himself in the process,” Dr. Markos wrote in “Putin’s power playbook: Hack, steal, disrupt, mislead, confuse,” in the October 28, 2016 Sacramento Bee, days before the crucial election.

The author came billed as “a senior fellow at Central European University” with nothing about his wife’s Clinton connections. Before Dr. Markos, the McClatchy flagship Sacramento Bee hired Diana Griego Erwin, a co-winner of a Pulitzer at the Denver Post. In many of her columns, Erwin mentioned people that even a team of Bee editors could not find.

In November 2000, the Bee fired veteran reporter Dennis Love, who made up quotes from non-existent sources. Love admitted, “I did the wrong thing and the Bee did the right thing.” By contrast, the Bee did not openly fire Diana Griego Erwin, who resigned without any admission of wrongdoing.

This fake’s enabler was executive editor Rick Rodriguez. As journalist Joe Guzzardi noted, Rodriguez also looked the other way at “hundreds of biased, unprofessional pieces by Bee reporters and columnist about ‘immigrants,’ aka illegal aliens.” About illegals, “nary a negative word is permitted.”

Rick Rodriguez resigned in 2007, as the Los Angeles Times reported, “in a dispute over the long-term direction of the newspaper.” Rodriguez is now Southwest Borderlands Initiative Professor at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, “where he is developing programs for in-depth reporting on Latino and borderland issues.”

As it happens, Walter Cronkite was the subject of a Diana Griego Erwin column headlined “Truth and Trust Go Hand-in-Hand.” That isn’t exactly the case with the McClatchy newspaper chain, whose flagship publication is essentially a Democrat Party newsletter.

Last year San Diego Democrat Lorena Gonzalez authored Assembly Bill 5, a frontal assault on voluntary association and First Amendment rights that limits freelance writers to 35 submissions per publications per year. The Bee ran a glowing endorsement by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who wrote, “Democrats need to stand up and say, without hedging, that we support AB 5.”

True to form, the Bee failed to cover a January 28 protest by hundreds of writers and independent contractors at the state capitol. On the other hand, readers have learned that the McClatchy newspaper chain has declared bankruptcy. Readers could be forgiven for believing that political bias, fake news, and collaboration with Deep State hoaxes had a lot to do with the downfall.

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Photo by Mike MacKenzie


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