Commentary — July 17, 2007, 5:46 pm

Archive Highlights: Conrad Black

“Black facing rest of life in prison, say experts,” The Daily Telegraph, July 17, 2007

While a United States government prosecutor suggested in court last week that, by “conservative” estimates Black was facing 15 to 20 years in jail after being convicted of fraud and obstruction charges, those familiar with similar trials say he can realistically expect an even stiffer sentence . . .

In emails to the Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada at the weekend, Black said: “We move on to the next phase in this long war. We got rid of most of [the charges], and expect to get rid of the rest on appeal. I feel like a soldier conscripted for a foreign war. You fight till you win, and then you come home.”

davidsuterpen

Kevin P. Phillips, “Busting the media trusts,” July 1977:

In a March speech to the Houston Press Club, former Treasury Secretary John Connally argued that the nation’s major media conglomerates should be viewed not just as unprecedented power centers, but as “massive business empires built by entrepreneurs under the shelter of our free enterprise system.” This may represent an important and valid shift in the customary criticism of the press. Those who believe that government policy on media can continue to be shaped around eighteenth-century images of a persecuted John Peter Zenger clutching his twelve-shilling printing press simply ignore postindustrial economics (which, I might add, such people are normally the first to remember in other policy-making contexts–from national economic planning to solar heating–that do not involve their own vocational self-interest).

Ideally, recognition of new “massive business empires” can focus debate on reducing media concentration to a safer size by traditional legal and economic policy. After all, it has been possible in the past to regulate such emerging economic forces as railroads, trusts, banks, and public utilities. Otherwise if the major media corporations continue to grow and wax self-righteous, putting one politician on the skids and another on the payroll, they are likely to run afoul of the late Adolf Berle‘s perceptive observation that when business threatens to engulf the state, it forces the state to engulf business. Myopia-cum-hypocrisy is usually self-defeating. In today’s context, we can postulate that if the communications business threatens to engulf the values, culture, and careers of voters and politicians, it will force the state to engulf the communications business. That messy prospect is not going to occur next year, but the angry questions already have begun to be asked.

Harper’s Index, December 1997:

Portion of Canada’s 105 daily newspapers that are owned by Conrad Black : 1/2

“A Newspaper Man,” “Sell the Papers! The Malady of American Journalism,” June 1925:

In our Washington news we were not fed one day on White House propaganda that the President will “press for” such and such a measure, and on Senate committee-room propaganda the next day that such and such a group of Senators will resist pressure. Instead, we were given a coherent account of what each public measure of consequence was about, and a brief analytical discussion, when the event warranted it, of the struggle over its passage. I can get a far more satisfactory idea from our six and eight-page paper of what the Fifty-first Congress was up to than I can to-day from our twelve to fifty-page paper of what the Sixty-eighth Congress is up to. Except for the fact that I was only a year old at the time, I could have written better informed political editorials in 1890.

Nicholas Fraser, Le Divorce: Do Europe and America have irreconcilable differences?, September 2002:

For some weeks, Conrad Black’s Daily Telegraph printed samples every day of opinion opposed to the Afghan war under the title “Useful Idiots.” When I spoke to Lord Black of Crossharbour, as Conrad Black has recently become, shedding his Canadian citizenship to dignify the British House of Lords with a neoconservative presence, he was proud of having sponsored such onslaughts. Burly, elegantly dressed in his so-English pinstripes, he spoke unstoppably of the cowardice and dishonesty of the European upper class. “You have to take a long view,” he said. “In two hundred years America has gone from being a colony barely larger than Greater Baltimore to the status of uncontested world power. Start from the premise that anti-Americanism is a terrible and classic, conventional case of envy–and the envy is hidden behind a posture of moral disapproval. It’s so easy to blame Americans for having everything. Even the British are not immune to such feelings.”

Emails by Lord Conrad Black presented as evidence at his trial in Chicago, “Peer Pressure,” June 2007:

I’m not prepared to reenact the French Revolutionary renunciation of the rights of the nobility. We have to find a balance between an unfair taxation on the company and a reasonable treatment of the
founder-builder-managers. We are proprietors, after all, beleaguered though we may be . . .

We have a certain style that all these shareholders were aware of when they came in. We should fine-tune that style, not revolutionize it with a damascene conversion to vows of poverty . . .

Two years from now no one will remember any of this.

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

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 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

Artwork by Imre Kinszki © Imre Kinszki Estate
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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

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"She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. 'Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.'"
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