May 26, 2003
The stockholders' meeting of Hollinger International on May 22 in the gilded salon of the Metropolitan Club on New York's Fifth Avenue wasn't the usual quiet, staged affair. This company owns Chicago's Sun-Times newspaper, along with The Telegraph of London and The Jerusalem Post. Some minority stockholders made a big fuss that Conrad Black, who dominates the company, along with his top executives, drained off 74 million dollars over the last three years by pocketing so-called "non-compete fees" for papers they sold off. Also, Hollinger paid over 200 million dollars in "management fees" to Black's privately owned Ravelston Corp. over the last seven years.
But the real scandal isn't the tens of millions of dollars that Black took from the other stockholders. The real scandal is the daily diet of lies that his papers spew.
Before the war in Iraq, the Chicago Sun-Times was busy drumming up support for the war. Every article was blatant propaganda, repeating such lies as the claim that Saddam Hussein was about to unleash nuclear weapons and his army had all kinds of biological and chemical weapons, even though information was already coming out that none of this was true. Once the war started, there was no mention of the fact that U.S. soldiers or Iraqi civilians were being killed. There were no reports that Iraqis were angry at the U.S. invasion. The paper told readers that the Iraqis were dancing in the streets at "liberation."
As for this country, while Bush was preparing his massive tax cuts for the rich, the Sun-Times had a giant headline claiming that every family would soon be getting a refund. Not true.
On the board of Hollinger sits Henry Kissinger, secretary of state under Nixon, who carries on a consulting business for some of the wealthiest oil sheiks in the world, as well as for various U.S. businessmen. There is also Richard Perle, the former chairman of Bush's Defense Policy Board, who was one of the main promoters of the war in Iraq, and a man quick to make a big buck off his war-mongering.
So it's no surprise they were ready to award a single Hollinger executive such a large bonus. They subscribe to the belief that "freedom of the press" – (freedom only for those who have over 100 million dollars to buy a daily as big as the Sun-Times ) – means their right to lie in defense of capitalism.