Saturday, May 01, 2010

History of a Good Republican (Mostly) Newspaper

Bill Boyarsky. Inventing L.A.: The Chandlers and Their Times. Angel City Press (no year listed, circa 2010).

The Los Angeles Times began as a one cent, four page paper in 1881.

Colonel Harrison Gary Otis, in 1882, who had worked previously with the Louisville Journal, began leading the Times. He had taken a stand against slavery on a pro-states’ rights newspaper, the Journal. Otis then served in the Civil War and was a Lt. Colonel at war’s end. Otis helped W.W. Hollister start a weekly newspaper in Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Weekly Press. Otis wrote editorials against Southern Pacific Railroad’s attempt to seek a favorable economic climate from government. The long arm influence of the Southern Pacific Railroad led to Otis leaving the Santa Barbara newspaper. Otis took a job in Alaska while his wife Eliza directed newspaper operations.

Otis took a job as Editor of the Times and purchased a 15% interest. Meanwhile, the city subsidized rail in Los Angeles and its population began growing.

Harry Chandler moved to Los Angeles from New Hampshire for the clean air to help with his lung ailment. He began working in the Times circulation department in 19885. Within a year, he was leading the department. Circulation work began at 4 am.

Otis left the Times to serve in the Spanish American War. He then became a Brigadier General in fighting in the Philippines. He then returned to apply military style management in leading the Times.

The Times management found the efforts of Collis Huntington, Southern Pacific’s President, to gain solo rights to harbor business. The ant-Southern Pacific forces convinced the Federal government to construct a deep river free harbor in San Pedro.

The Chamber of Commerce and the Times successfully fought to take water rights from ranches in Owens Valley and direct water to Los Angeles. Mayor Fred Eaton had the city purchase the Los Angeles Water Company. William Mulholland led the company in buying water rights under others; properties with no public notice. The Times kept silent as this happened. Otis and Chandler were silent financial partners in the operations. City voters approved building a $23 million aqueduct that was completed in 1913. A dam holding a year’s supply of water was created due to fears of an earthquake disrupting the water flow. A dam, which Mulholland had earlier declares as safe, burst in 1928 which killed over 450 and destroyed 12,240 houses and 7,900 acres of agricultural land.

The Times kept collective bargaining out of labor force even while other papers across the nation unionized. A bomb exploded in the Times building in 1910, killing 21. The International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers was blamed for the bombing and two of members were charged.

Job Harrimanm running for Mayor on the Socialist ticket, was one of the defense attorneys. Harriman attacked the Times’ anti-union policies. Defense attorney Clarence Darrow and journalist Lincoln Steffens helped negotiate a compromise where defendant Jim McNamara, who admitted to placing the dynamite, would plead guilty and escape the death penalty while his brother, John McNamara, would have charges dropped that he planned and funded the bombing. The District Attorney declined the deal. Jim was given a life sentence and James 15 years. The guilty pleas hurt Harriman politically and he was defeated in his race for Mayor.

One McNamara attorney, Joseph Scott, was also on the Board of Education. The Times wrote viciously about Scott until he left the School Board in 1915. He then used all the newspaper attacks to successfully sue the Times for $47,659.71, an award that was upheld by the state Supreme Court.

The Times supported the successful passage of the Criminal Syndicalism Act of 1919, which created a new felony crime of belonging to an organization that supported violence against industry or for political change. The Police Department created a Red Squad that disrupted union meetings and strikes. Upton Sinclair, a writer, was arrested for reading the Bill of Rights.

Kyle Palmer of the Times became a leading political editorialist. He always supported Republicans and opposed unions.

Harry Chandler died in 1944. Norman Chandler, Harry’s son and General Otis’s grandson, took over managing the Times. He sold stock to raise funds and abandoned its policy of only supporting Republicans, although it kept a conservative editorial tilt. In 1941, the Times had the third highest circulation in Los Angeles. Norman Chandler also started the Mirror newspaper as a publication with greater appeal to middle class readers.

The Times supported imprisoning Japanese residents during World War II, declaring they were agents of Japan. The Times also sided with police and military personnel who did not intervene when 5,000 other military personnel and civilians attacked Mexican Americans wearing zoot suits.

The Times opposed a public housing plan by Mayor Fletcher Brown. In the final three weeks of the next Mayor’s race, the Times wrote 219 column inches about Brown and 1,010 column inches on his opponent, Norris Paulson. Paulson won. The land Brown wanted for public housing was then used to build Dodger Stadium.

Norman Chandler supported Robert Taft for President in 1952 until he saw Taft yelling at a photojournalist. This upset Chandler who switched to supporting Eisenhower.

The Times was very supportive of Richard Nixon. Chandler allowed a Political Editor for the Mirror work for Nixon in 1952, 1954, 1956, and 1960.

Otis Chandler became Times Publisher in 1960. He abandoned the conservative political leanings and attracted talented journalists and allowed them more freedom on what they wrote. Times writers provided more coveregae of different sides of labor – management disputes.

Tom Johnson became the Times Publisher in 1980 as Otis Chandler became Editor in Chief of Times Mirror, the paper’s company. In 1986, conservative Board members, including cousines of Otis, forced Otis Chandler out of his job. In 1989, the Board ousted Editorial Page Editor Anthony Day for being too moderate and fired Tom Johnson. The paper became editorially conservative.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:48 PM  
Blogger Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny said...

Please realize all we see in English are boxes. Maybe you are from England and you are big fans of Boxing Day. In that case, Happy Early Boxing Day.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:57 AM  

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