LA Times publisher David Hiller, the corporate emissary the Tribune bosses in Chicago sent out to California to handle all the editor-firing, is a bit of a dork. He got all goofy and excited over the fact that the paper got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last year, which convinced the jaded LAT newsroom that he is a total touristy nerd who will never really grasp the City of Angels. He manages like a pussy, mumbling inaudibly about what his long term plans and mandates are before springing the hatchet on angry editors, according to lots of anonymous interviewees in a New York Times profile today. They also say he has sent notes about individual stories to reporters (a huge no-no for a publisher), and is considering putting the paper's entire Sunday magazine section under the control of the marketing department. On top of all that, he likes to sing corny songs. Whew! A weak manager, muddling around without a strong long-term plan, trying to endear himself to his inferiors in an annoying, kind of nerdy fashion. Who does that remind you of? New York Times publisher Arthur "Pinch Pinch Pinch" Sulzberger Jr., of course! Observe this list of Sulzberger's greatest Hiller-like moments:
- Sulzberger has a stuffed toy moose that he totes around "as a symbol of open communication," whatever that means. Cute! He once tried to hand it off to former editor Howell Raines during a tense meeting, but Raines "laid it aside." Howell Raines: maybe a jerk, but a manly jerk.
- Also in Sulzberger's office: "a wooden sculpture of a beloved motorcycle and sculptures of rock climbers."
- Sulzberger Jr., who has always been cast in his powerful father's shadow, inspired one longtime Times man to speculate, "At some point you have to wonder when the bloodline thins."
- When the Times moved its headquarters last year, Pinch opened up his wallet for a pizza party celebrating the closing of the old building that was described by an inside source as "Dorkfest 2007."
- In 2005, Sulzberger and editor Bill Keller were in a car following jailed former reporter Judy Miller, who was being transported by federal marshals in an SUV with tinted windows. When they stopped, Sulzberger jumped out of his car and started tapping on the SUV's windows, saying "Judy! Judy, it's me!" A marshal had to tell him to get away from the vehicle. NERD.
- In a meeting with Condoleeza Rice, Pinch went out of his way to explain to her that a bomb-sniffing dog recently threw up in the room. Later, he jokingly asked if she could get the President to help out Judy Miller.
- The New York Times Company's stock price: