Black did not begin his career as a journalist. He was a businessman. Yet the company he built, the newspapers he published and the journalists he encouraged mark him off as one of the finest newspapermen of modern times. Black himself is a stupendously civilized man, widely learned and the author of two splendid biographies, one of Franklin Roosevelt, the other (to be published this spring) of Richard Nixon. When he was on top at Hollinger, journalism in the English-speaking world was vastly more interesting than it is today. I have known him for two decades and admired his works. I have also had my run-ins with him. A few years back I refused a deal he offered me. Boy was he mad. I was too. But that is water under the bridge. Black is a major force for good in the publishing world, and all who favor a free and intelligent press should hope that he will be back.
From Chicago it sounds as though he might be back. One of Canada's most distinguished journalists wrote from the courtroom after observing two weeks of the trial, "Conrad Black will be found not guilty." Peter Worthington is a bit irked, expressing his view in the Toronto Sun that American prosecutors have been dismissive of Canada, which they have "depicted as Albania." But it is the case that the prosecutors have made that provokes Worthington's judgment that Black will be acquitted. As he sees it, the charges against Black and his co-defendants "are not only unwarranted but wrong." After two weeks "there has been no evidence produced that clearly indicates a crime committed." Better yet, the courtroom proceedings have become "booooring."
So the hacks in the press are growing tired of the trial. The drama of bringing a grand figure down is not developing. Black has been a gentleman through the entire proceedings, though he faces months more. His stance has been valiant. He did not cop a plea. He has trusted in the justice of an American court. He remains a friend of America. If Worthington is right, Black may yet mount one of the great comebacks in modern journalistic history.
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