Yet the piling on continues. "Hollinger also made contributions to political causes linked to directors. Hollinger contributed $200,000 annually for an undisclosed number of years to National Interest." That journal is a scholarly publication dealing with international relations at a very high level. It is hardly a "political cause." A few lines later, the Journal continues in its portentous groan: "Hollinger has never disclosed its role in publishing the National Interest." Actually, it has. The masthead of the National Interest describes itself as a "nonprofit partnership between Hollinger International Inc. and the Nixon Center." Moreover, Black and Kissinger have for years been very publicly associated with both the National Interest and the Nixon Library. The Journal's story says so itself!
There are more inflated alarums in the Wall Street Journal story. Hollinger has been donating $375,000 annually to a distinguished London-based think tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Another secret arrangement? Perhaps to the enemies of Conrad Black, but the think tank's library is publicly known as Hollinger-Telegraph Library. "Telegraph" refers to the superb newspaper Black publishes in London.
There is nothing secretive or unethical about any of these arrangements at Hollinger. There may be other things amiss, but not in these arrangements. It makes eminently good sense for a media chain to have attachments with scholarly journals and think tanks. If more of our media chains did, they might publish material of a higher intellectual standard. Black is merely being hit while he is down. The noble press is simply "piling on."
Black is a worldly man, the author of a new biography, "Franklin Delano Roosevelt," that is being touted as the "definitive" one-volume book on the president. Black is surely well acquainted with the press's feeding frenzies.
"Conrad Black has been a risk taker," one of New York's most respected investors tells me. "He's more than a CEO. He built a worldwide network of newspapers in an industry that is going sideways." Those newspapers are among the best in the world, and they are the most interesting and independent. That is why I hope he can hold them all together. The press acts as a herd. The public is better served by the publisher who remains free of the herd and stands up to bullies.