By Richard Riehl
I shook my head in disbelief three years ago, when I learned Douglas Manchester had been offered the position of ambassador to the Bahamas. President Trump made the announcement the day after he was sworn in.
I worked, briefly, for Papa Doug, his preferred moniker, seven years ago, after the real estate magnate bought San Diego’s North County Times.
After having witnessed his disaster as a newspaper publisher, I was delighted to see this week’s CBS News investigation, explaining how this country’s diplomatic corps escaped the embarrassment of an Ambassador Papa Doug.
After Manchester donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration, his ambassadorship languished in the Senate for two and a half years. When Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel asked him for another $500,000, as a donation to help the RNC meet its fundraising goal, Manchester offered, instead, a good faith $100,000 donation from his wife, with a promise of more to come after he was confirmed.
That was a bridge too far for Papa Doug. The Republican National Committee told CBS News, “Mr. Manchester’s decision to link future contributions to an official action was totally inappropriate.” They said they cut ties with Manchester and returned the money his family donated this year.
Following my retirement from Cal State San Marcos in 2003, I began writing letters to the editor, leading to an invitation to write a biweekly opinion column on subjects of my choosing, so long as they were on local issues. The opinion page editor gave me free reign for my opinions, many of which were highly critical of the city’s elected officials.
Nine years later, shortly after purchasing the San Diego Union Tribune, Papa Doug bought the North County Times. It was bad news for this writer.
Here’s what I said about that in my October 17, 2012 blog:
The Incredible Shrinking Newspaper
Manchester has not been hesitant to declare his goal as a newspaper owner is not to produce quality journalism as a service to the public. It’s to promote a conservative agenda and be a booster of business and pro sports in San Diego County.
Editor of the North County Times, Kent Davy, told a KPBS interviewer his mission for the NCT was to be a mirror of the community. Manchester’s mission for the U-T San Diego North County Page Insert is to be a mirror of himself.
The day Editor Davy refused to publish that, I stopped writing for the North County Times. He explained it was a threat to NCT staff writers, fearing more layoffs from the newspaper’s change of ownership. I didn’t blame him for trying to protect his writers, but it didn’t stop Papa Doug from killing North County’s only daily print newspaper.
Fortunately for me, I found other outlets, thanks to Anna Daniels of the San Diego Free Press, Steve Marcotte, editor of OsideNews.com, and the good folks at OBrag.org and EscondidoGrapevine.com.
As a proud co-conspirator with Trump’s “enemies of the people,” I just can’t stop blogging.