Dear Jerry Brown: more impertinent questions on the Hearst shenanigans (part 4)

Pub date October 20, 2006
SectionBruce Blog

Followups on Hearst: No word back from the Chronicle on my questions on why they are blacking out the big local story involving three big local players (Hearst, McKesson Corporation, and First DataBank). Let me give you the lead front headline on the Oct. 6 Wall Street Journal story to make the point about what a big big story they are stonewalling on:

“How Quiet Moves by a Publisher Sway Billions in Drug Spending, Lawsuit Forces Hearst Unit To Lower Prices on List Widely Used as Benchmark, A ‘Survey’ of One Company”

Anybody out there annoyed at the ever escalating price of prescription drugs? That is the point. Below are my questions emailed Thursday to the campaign headquarters of Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, who is the candidate most likely to be the next attorney general (no word back at blogtime).

Fair warning: next week I will start asking similar impertinent questions to the Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, San Jose Mercury News, San Mateo Times, and other Media News Group/Dean Singleton papers that claim, along with Hearst, that they are really aggressively competing away out there even though they have formed what amounts to a regional news monopoply. Have they done the story and if not, when will they? And will they pursue the story as real competitive newspapers once did and as they ought to do again if they want to retain credility and financial viability? Repeating: Where are Justice and Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer and their antitrust departments.
Take note, Clint Reilly and Joe Alioto, a key part of your antitrust case is being made right here and now. B3

Dear Jerry Brown,

I am requesting some information and answers to questions from you, as a candidate for attorney general, for stories we are doing at the Bay Guardian and for my Bruce blog at

The Wall Street Journal on Oct. 6, and the Bay Guardian in its current edition, have done stories on a major settlement in which a Hearst subsidiary (First Data Bank in San Bruno) has ” agreed to stop publishing its list of wholesale medicine prices, which numerous critics have blamed for driving up drug costs,” as an AP story in the Houston Chronicle/Hearst puts it. (See story on the link below). Would you as attorney general investigate this issue and determine if it would save health plans $4 billion and if there should be any further action in this case?

Hearst and Singleton interests have, as charged in the Clint Reilly/Joe Alioto antitrust suit, effectively destroyed newspaper competition in the Bay Area and imposed regional monopoly. Would you continue the Lockyer investigation into this case? And/or would you join the suit as a co-plaintiff or an amicus? Thanks very much.

Sincerely, Bruce B. Brugmann (B3)