Beleaguered by hedge fund shareholders angry at the dismal performance of the New York Times Company, Pinch Sulzberger has opted to nominate two new directors for the company's board. Unfortunately for him, the paper is already on the record savaging companies on whose boards these two directors have already served. The New York Sun has a brilliant editorial this morning pointing out Pinch's proclivity for hypocrisy:
We are delighted that these two exceptional individuals have agreed to be nominees for election by our shareholders," the company's chairman, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., said in a release on Tuesday announcing the news. "The skills, expertise and leadership qualities of these two nominees will greatly benefit our Company during this time of tremendous change in the media world."
So just who are these "exceptional individuals"? One, Dawn Lepore, served as a director of Wal-Mart from 2001 to 2004. While Ms. Lepore was serving as a Wal-Mart director, the Times was denouncing Wal-Mart for a series of supposed sins. A November 15, 2003, editorial thundered, "This Wal-Martization of the work force, to which other low-cost, low-pay stores also contribute, threatens to push many Americans into poverty. The first step in countering it is to enforce the law. The government must act more vigorously, and more quickly, when Wal-Mart uses illegal tactics to block union organizing. And Wal-Mart must be made to pay if it exploits undocumented workers." It went on, "Wal-Mart likes to wrap itself in American values. It should be reminded that one of those is paying workers enough to give their families a decent life."
An April 11, 2004, editorial, also written while Ms. Lepore was serving on the Wal-Mart board, warned, "the entry of such an especially tight-fisted employer in a community compels competitors to whittle at their own labor costs. That translates into lost jobs and smaller paychecks for everyone."
Of course, the Times already has closed its Edison, NJ printing plant, throwing out of work many blue collar union members. Not selling that much newsprint any more, and the workers pay the price.
The other proposed new director is Robert Denham, a director at - gasp! - Chevron. The very same Chevron about which the Times thundered outrage:
The Times in a 2006 editorial faulted Chevron for its role in "the Greenpoint oil spill, an underground spill covering 55 acres with an estimated 17 million to 30 million gallons of oil. The oil gathers in unseen subsurface reservoirs. It mixes with ground water. It seeps constantly into Newtown Creek, coating the waterway with rainbow sheens. It creates toxic vapors that could someday threaten 300 homes and small businesses." Another editorial that year asserted, "An oil industry already rolling in record profits does not need more tax breaks" and complained of "industry greed."
Mr. Sulzberger: is the Times now embracing "greed"?
If not, do you apologize for these fatuous editorials?