Impertinent questions on the new Hearst shenanigans (part 2, see previous blog)

Pub date October 18, 2006
SectionBruce Blog

Whenever a big media conglomerate like Hearst tries to cover up its corporate transgressions, the questions start flying like machine gun bullets. These are a few of mine following up my previous blog on the Guardian’s G. W. Schulz story:

Questions to Hearst Corporate (via Hearst/Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein and Business Editor Ken Howe):
Your sister paper, the Houston Chronicle/Hearst, ran a story on Oct. 6 by Theresa Agovino, an Associated Press business writer, with a New York dateline. This story was headlined “Lawsuit May Save Health Plans $4 billion” and the lead read: “A publisher of prescription drug prices has agreed to eventually stop publishing its controversial list of wholesale medicine prices, which numerous critics have blamed for driving p drug costs, as part of a settlement that alleged it had conspired to increase markups.”

Second paragraph: “The plaintiffs said the settlement, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts late Thursday and still needs a judge’s approval, will save health plans $4 billion.” Impertinent questions: why didn’t your local Chronicle/Hearst run the story or do its own since it involved three local companies (Hearst, the Hearst-owned subsidiary in San Bruno, and McKesson Corp., the big drug wholesaler)? Did you order the blackout of the story or was this decided at the Chronicle? When will you do the story? If not, why not?

Questions to Singleton corporate and Singleton papers (who claim to be competitive with Hearst): will you do the story and its ramifications on prescription costs? If not, why not?

Questions to Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer and rough and tumble antitrust crew: The Hearst/Singleton blackout on this story suggests that the Clint Reilly/Joe Alioto suit has a major point: that the financial deal between Hearst and Singleton papers will destroy daily competition and impose regional monopoly. Will you have any comment or take any action on your investigation of the deal before you leave office?

Questions to Atty. Gen. heir apparent Jerry Brown: Are you familiar with the Wall Street Journal/AP/Guardian stories on the Hearst prescription pricing scam? Will you as attorney general do your own investigation? Regarding the Hearst/Singleton media merger deal, will you as attorney general continue the investigation that Lockyer has started? Will you consider joining or appearing as an amicus in the upcoming Reilly/Alioto antitrust trial aimed at stopping the Hearst/Singleton monopoly move?

Impertinent Journalism l0l question to AP and the Houston Chronicle: AP, which prides itself on getting the lead and the story upfront, put the lead involving a major client in the last line of its story. The line read: “First DataBank is a unit of Hearst Corp.” Why didn’t it say in the lead or upfront in this 20 paragraph story that this was a Hearst owned subsidiary that was being charged in a billion dollar prescription price gouging scheme? Why didn’t the Chronicle edit the story and put Hearst in the lead where it belonged?

Stay tuned. If there is anything the media and its investigators hate to do, it is to answer questions about their own transgressions and cover-ups? B3

The Wall Street Journal
Justice Department Press Release