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Truth-telling LA Times columnist fired by Bush-supporting publisher

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Columnist Robert Scheer, a voice of truth in U.S. journalism, was recently fired by a new Bush-supporting publisher of the Los Angeles Times who hated his long-time weekly syndicated column. Scheer has responded by co-founding a new online magazine called Truthdig.

You can view the magazine and get on its email list at http://www.truthdig.com.

Truthdig was co-founded by Los Angeles entrepreneur Zuade Kaufman, who is publisher, with Scheer editor in chief. They have added some veteran journalists, including Richard Core, former editor of the Los Angeles Times' Web site, and Christopher Scheer, former managing editor of Alternet.

In a posting at the Huffington Post blog, Scheer wrote, "The publisher, Jeff Johnson, who has offered not a word of explanation to me, has privately told people that he hated every word that I wrote. I assume that mostly refers to my exposing the lies used by President Bush to justify the invasion of Iraq. Fortunately sixty percent of Americans now get the point but only after tens of thousand of Americans and Iraqis have been killed and maimed as the carnage spirals out of control. My only regret is that my pen was not sharper and my words tougher."

In a recent interview with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman, Scheer explained that the LA Times' new publisher, Jeff Johnson, wants to get in good with the Bush administration to get it to approve a lucrative media monopoly in LA since it also owns a major broadcast company there.

The trend is a common one in cities throughout this nation - I once worked for a company that not only owned the only daily newspaper, but largest TV station and suburban papers. The Los Angeles Times also recently laid off 70 people, and John Carroll, an editor who oversaw coverage that won 13 Pulitzer Prizes, left after observing that the conservative owners will gut the paper.

"This guy, Jeff Johnson, who is an accountant who cares nothing at all about a free press and cares nothing about journalism, he's a right winger who supported the war, you know, who two years ago told people he couldn't stand a word that I wrote. Why? Because I exposed how the whole Jessica Lynch thing was a fraud, when the newspaper hadn't even covered the news story, or that I attacked the whole weapons of mass destruction from the beginning, I attacked the war from the very beginning," Scheer told Goodman. "And this is just one column once a week, 720 words on the Op-Ed page, and he couldn't take that."

More on Scheer's situation can be read in a transcript of that interview here.

I've been in the journalism business myself for almost three decades, and the predictions of it becoming just like any other conservative, bottom-line business have rung true. It's long been that way; I can remember editors refusing to publish political, fact-based stories I wrote in the early 1980s because they might upset conservative advertisers. But more and more, the media business is driven by conservative owners who think nothing of sucking up to even more conservative politicians whose approval ratings are lower than Satan's.

The Internet is our saving grace. And we can be glad Scheer didn't just get mad when he was messed around; he's out to compete and get even.
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Jackson Thoreau is the pen name of a Washington, D.C.-area journalist/writer. Books include Not Our President: The Movement for Democracy and Against GOP Fascism [updated in 2022], The King of the Internet [2019], and Born to (more...)

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