U-T Must Shill For Chargers, Says John Lynch – UPDATED

Bradley J. Fikes Bradley J. Fikes 25 Comments


UPDATE: The news in the VOSD story is every bit as bad as I feared. From the story, John Lynch says:

He wants that sports page to be an advocate for a new football stadium “and call out those who don’t as obstructionists.”

“To my way of thinking,” Lynch said, “that’s a shovel-ready job for thousands.”

“We’d like to be a cheerleader for all that’s good about San Diego,” Lynch said. “Our motivation, both of us, was to do something good for San Diego.”

Interesting how being a “cheerleader for all that’s good about San Diego” just happens to coincide with the business and political agenda of John Lynch and Doug Manchester.

While the near-bankrupt city struggles to right its finances, here comes the U-T’s new owners pushing a project that will cost the city even more as a jobs bill. Our very own economic stimulus package.

How very Obama.

If Lynch is as good as his word, don’t expect to see much critical coverage of this corporate welfare program in the Union-Tribune. By edict of its new owners, U-T journalists are to become cheerleaders.

If Lynch is successful in using the Union-Tribune in that way, the corporate welfare plutocrats will win. Their political enablers will win. Their allies will win. The loser will be the average San Diego resident and taxpayer.


If a tweet and upcoming story by Rob Davis of Voice of San Diego is correct, any hope of a fair and balanced San Diego Union-Tribune under its new ownership has gone into the toilet.

Specifically, John Lynch, Doug Manchester’s partner in buying the U-T, is advocating biased cheerleading coverage to support using taxpayer assets for corporate welfare — aka a new Chargers stadium.  (I will link to the story when it’s posted).

Crony Capitalism from one of the U-T's new owners

Crony Capitalism from one of the U-T's new owners

If this is what Lynch is willing to say publicly, I shudder at what instructions he’s giving the U-T staffers privately.

Count me in as one of those “obstructionists” who oppose welfare for the rich. And my colleagues at the Union-Tribune, in sports and the other sections, have my deepest sympathies.

As for the rest of you, just remember that by Lynch’s own words, the sports page must abandon any pretense of journalistic fairness and pimp out its coverage for the plutocrats at Spanos & Co. The Union-Tribune has often supported corporate welfare, but this bald-faced statement takes the bias to a new level of brazenness.

Excuse me while I vomit.


(DISCLAIMER: The opinions I express do not necessarily represent the views of my employer, the North County Times.)


Comments 25

  1. The Union-Tribune of James S. Copley cheer-
    leaded bringing the LA Chargers here in 1961.

    That involved expanding and improving Balboa
    Stadium, the team’s home from 1961-1966.

    The UT’s future survival is at stake. Whether I
    agree or disagree with Mr. Lynch on this issue
    is of less importance to me and other Native
    San Diegans, than whether this area continues
    to have a Daily newspaper, and one which will
    surely improve dramatically with Mr. Lynch.

    And by the way, the UT sports section has
    vilified critics of the various Stadium deals
    for many years. Just ask Bruce Henderson!

  2. I wonder how much property Mr. Manchester and Mr. Lynch own that is close to where a new stadium might be built? As a developer Manchester could easily have a strong vested interested in this, as in many other local land deals.

    Don’t expect to hear any more unbiased reporting about sweetheart deals or developer boondoggles if the UT sells to this pair.

  3. Post

    The city of San Diego was in much better financial shape in years past. And this open order takes the cheerleading to a whole new level. This is pretty brazen — the VOSD story is now up and the news is as bad as I feared.

    You’ll have to look to Voice of San Diego, San Diego CityBeat, and perhaps from KPBS for critical coverage of Manchester’s agenda.

  4. Spanos will get on the ballot with or without the Council. He will then get defeated. He will then leave after 2012 season to Los Angeles. ‘Nuff said.

  5. In Barroom parlance, This is the “Last Call”.

    Who else but local business people would put
    money & time into salvaging the Union-Tribune
    at this late date?

    I’ll happily cheer-lead those willing to do that,
    and if it was someone with different politics
    [Irwin Jacobs as a hypothetical] I’d cheer for
    him as well.

    And when… exactly…was there a newspaper
    owner in recent memory who did not have an

  6. Post

    It’s one thing to mandate fair and balanced coverage, quite another to explicitly order your reporters into cheerleaders’ outfits. The new owners have declared their affinity for corporate welfare, which our city can’t afford. Taxpayers will be fleeced so that the Chargers can have a new stadium. And God knows what other projects they’re going to cheerlead for. Doesn’t that trouble you?

    I have no problem with people getting rich. I vehemently object to people getting rich by gaming the government at taxpayers’ expense.

  7. It’s odd for a newspaper to be pro Chargers stadium (and call out obstructionists) and pro business. Raises host of questions and concerns.

    That said, if your newspaper (not just your editorial page) is going to be biased, I like that you’re telling readers: “Here are our biases!”

  8. Obstructionist here…the Q is just fine where it is, just fix things when they break… thanks.

    U-T subscription renewal arrived yesterday, will cancel today.

  9. As the journalist in the Union-Tribune newsroom who most covers the Chargers stadium issue and who has had that beat for several years, I invite anyone who has questions or comments about my coverage to let me know what they think. I trust I’ve built up enough of a reputation in San Diego in my dozen-plus years here for readers and residents alike to know that my coverage is fair, full, balanced and unbiased, and that I’m open to criticism, constructive or otherwise. I expect to continue covering Chargers business issues in just such a fashion, as I begin to work for a third owner. To give me feedback, you can call me at 619-293-1335, email me at matthew.hall@uniontrib.com or find me on Twitter @SDuncovered. Thanks for reading this note. And: Onward!

  10. Let me say that over the years I have found Matt Hall to be a diligent and fair reporter, even including a time or two I may not have been very pleased with a particular article about the City of La Mesa. Thanks for weighing in, Matt — it is my hope you will be afforded the continued opportunity to cover the prospects of a new Chargers stadium using that same level of diligence and fairness (and I say that, despite my personal opinions about sports stadium subsidies).

  11. Post

    I likewise wish Matt the very best in continuing to provide fair coverage, even under circumstances that are sub-optimal.

  12. My best try at a Fair and helpful analogy:

    The only grocery store in our neighborhood is about
    to close owing to big losses. New owners with long
    ties to the area buy the store and promise to keep it

    A citizens committee forms to condemn the new
    owners, because they repaint the outside of the
    building and end the “free avocado Thursday” pro-

    The 1998 Peteco Park issue, and the SD Stadium
    ticket guarantee issue, have nothing to do with the
    two gentlemen trying to rescue our daily newspaper.

    If ever I saw an example of “Misplaced Anger” this is
    it. Those items relate primarily to who was on the SD
    City Council at the time, the City Manager, etc. And,
    frankly, the voters who kept re-electing those folks.

    But 12 to 15 years AFTER those fact,s somehow Doug
    Manchester and John Lynch are being blamed. That
    does not seem very logical..

    Writing on a blog is an avocation to me, but tho those
    who are professional journalists, please ask yourselves
    these two questions:

    (1) Wasn’t the UT on its way to extinction over the past
    few years? About to join the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
    as but a memory.

    (2) Who else but locally-based business people would
    throw money into it ,and promise to keep it going?

    You don’t like what John Lynch said about Sports, OK,
    fine you disagree. But when do you THANK Lynch and
    Manchester for trying to keep the largest media busi-
    ness in town alive, with all of the jobs that represents:
    reporters, pressmen, truck drivers, sales people, etc?

  13. Post

    But 12 to 15 years AFTER those facts somehow Doug Manchester and John Lynch are being blamed. That does not seem very logical..
    I for one don’t base my criticism on those old deals. It’s the bald-faced statements out of Lynch’s own mouth that have appalled me. Before that, I was moderately hopeful about the new owners.

    I think your grocery store analogy doesn’t apply. The U-T is not the only game in town when it comes to journalism. Thanks in large part to the Internet, we can get news from a variety of local sources.

    There is some reason for optimism. If I read Matt Hall correctly, the pro-stadium bias Lynch says the sports pages must exhibit doesn’t apply to the business pages. That’s a glimmer of hope in what otherwise looks to be a darkening picture for San Diego journalism.

  14. A 13 acre site in centrally located Mission Valley near the Trolley would be perfect for a new privately financed NFL stadium and Event Center.

  15. It’s refreshing to see the paper admitting that it’s dropping all pretense of objectivity — that the ENTIRE paper is now essentially one big editorial page. Good to know.

    News stories can be biased two ways:

    1. Headlining one viewpoint.
    2. Denigrating or, more importantly, IGNORING a viewpoint.

    For the first time in my 43 years in San Diego, I am seriously tempted to drop my U-T subscription. Even at the height of the previous sports subsidy debates — debates where the U-T figuratively raked me over the coals as a naysayer — I never really considered abandoning the paper all together. Of course, these are different times, and there are more options.

  16. John Lynch, let me give you some hints on how to play your bias game. When the Chargers wanted Jack Murphy stadium renovated in 1996, the U-T transferred its SPORTS PAGE reporter Barry Bloom to its city beat position. Suddenly Bloom, replete with cheerleading bloomers, found himself “reporting” on the Charger deal with the city.

    As it turned out, he DIDN’T report on the deal — there was only one brief, buried mention of the infamous Charger ticket guarantee prior to the city council approving the deal.

    The city formed a bogus “agency” to run the stadium — consisting of the City Manager, the City Attorney and the City Auditor(!!!). It was a rubber stamp for the city council, which allowed the politicians to issue bonds without a city vote (a 2/3 majority vote that was successfully carried out to build the original Jack Murphy stadium), as required by the city charter.

    It was only when we DEFENDANTS in the city’s validation lawsuit responded in court that the full story started to come out.

  17. Post

    I respect CityBeat much more than the new U-T, because CityBeat openly admits it has an agenda. It is transparent, and IMO more careful about facts than you give them credit for.

    Meanwhile the U-T appears to be attempting to have it both ways: To be a “cheerleader” and to present its coverage (outside of sports) as being unbiased. I would like to see Voice of San Diego quiz the owners more about what the role of business and city reporters will be under their reign: Will they also be forced to perform as “cheerleaders” for the Chargers as sports is going to be, or will they be told to go where the facts lead them?

    I certainly expect to rely more on SD CityBeat for the alternative story, but even more on the SD Reader, which has been relentless in opposing crony capitalism. It sometimes is sensationalist and goes even farther than I would, but it provides a vital counterbalance. Don Bauder is deadly accurate with his reportage and insights, despite the sniping of the crony capitalists and their hirelings.

    Funny that both the Reader’s owner, Jim Holman, and Manchester/Lynch are pigeonholed by lefties as conservative Catholics, when their approaches to journalism are vastly different.

  18. Long ago I canceled my subscription to the U-T due to it’s liberal bias and lack of investigative reporting. When the sale goes through I will at least buy a few papers at a store, which is a lot more than I do today.

    The paper had become so small that Ican’t even use it for bird cage liner anymore and have found Facebook, SD Rostra and other on line publication much more accurate and informative.

    If the Charger vote goes before the public in the City, they will vote it down, on the other hand if it becomes a County Wide vote I believe the voters would pass a bond issue for the Chargers. Personally, I would not support a taxpayer bond to build a stadium. However, I would support the will of the people of all of San Diego.

  19. Richard –

    A big difference is that whatever agenda we have is our own and not forced upon us by our owners, who are fully hands off.

    I’ll also remind you that we share several priorities with you, including exposing wasteful spending (SD SAFE, Horn’s grants, marijuana, etc). We do our research and hold officials of all philosophies accountable.

  20. Larry, the original Jack Murphy stadium was built with voter-approved bonds — bonds that met the 2/3 majority vote required.

    Today the politicians rightfully fear they cannot get a new bond passed (a bond that would be perhaps 30 times larger than the bond that funded Jack Murphy stadium). So they will try to bypass ANY citizen vote, and certainly the required 2/3 majority vote.

    While certainly I would actively campaign against such crony capitalism, I’m perfectly willing to let the voters decide the issue.

  21. Richard,
    A lot of the machinations that led to San Diego’s penury are spelled out by Steve Erie et al in Paradise Plundered.

    While you (and I) don’t buy into their quest for higher taxes, they provide plenty of evidence that the tax money San Diego receives is misspent on ego projects and crony capitalism. So opposing higher taxes is perfectly logical, because it will only encourage the squandering. For that reason, I consider the book to be quite valuable. I’m going to get a review up in the next few days.

  22. In the post about the new owners of the UT, Jim Sills made two comments that shouldn’t go unchallenged. Unfortunately, comments are closed for that post, so I will post my response here.


    Wanting government to decide which two consenting adults should be allowed to marry is not a conservative value nor is simply opposing a sales tax hike if you still favor high government spending in the form of corporate welfare. In fact, the latter sums up why we are in such an economic mess. At least the Democrats are honest enough to propose tax increases to pay for their overspending.

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