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The 4-percent solution. (Early Edition).

At the end of many articles about public financing for a new baseball stadium, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tacked on some boilerplate saying that Michael Pulitzer and Pulitzer Inc. owned approximately 4 percent of the Cardinals. It was as if that disclosure would somehow immunize the newspaper against charges of conflict of interest.

It didn't work. I'd guess that most readers of the Post believe the paper's editorial position and even its news coverage were influenced by Pulitzer's investment. I know the folks here at SJR did.

On the other hand, we all hope the newspaper's position was a conflict of interest because the alternative is simply too shocking to contemplate. If their coverage didn't reflect a conflict of interest that would mean Post editors actually believed the public should give hundreds of millions of dollars to billionaires or, at the very least, that the public should give in to the owners' blackmail attempts.

And they were threatening blackmail.

In a nutshell, here's what the Cardinals owners were saying: Yeah, we could afford to build a new stadium with our own money, but taxpayers in other cities have paid for stadiums for their rich owners, so why not St. Louis? And, if the taxpayers refuse, we'll leave downtown. And, if we leave, downtown will disintegrate. So, pay up suckers.

We simply don't want to believe the management at the Post thought that was logic worth their support.

We prefer the 4-percent solution.

Of course, that raises an even more troubling question: Is 4 percent ownership in the Cardinals worth the credibility of a 135-year-old newspaper?

Either way you turn, the Post doesn't come out looking good.

Somebody has to say it: The president of the United States is an embarrassment. On his recent trip to Europe he sounded scatterbrained and, at times, downright mean-spirited.

I love France. I used to live there, and I still visit whenever I can, every other year or so. Contrary to what Americans who think they're hip say, the French are actually a warm and hospitable people. I respect Parisians for their tolerance, sophistication and their insistence on quality over quantity.

In late May, President George W. Bush fumbled his way through meetings and news conferences with French President Jacques Chirac. At one point, Bush called Chirac "Monsieur Jacques." Just think what the American public would think if the French president called our president "Mr. George."

But the worst incident happened when NBC correspondent David Gregory asked Bush a question at a joint news conference with Chirac. Gregory asked Bush why he thought Europeans were so hostile to American foreign policy and even to Bush personally. Then, Gregory turned to Chirac and said: "Et, le meme question pour vous, Monsieur le President."

Bush looked like he had been shot, or maybe he was just having a charley horse in his brain. In any case, he pulled the translator's ear-piece from his ear and got that silly, smirking grin on his face. "Very good, the guy memorizes four words, and he plays like he's intercontinental," he said sarcastically. "I'm impressed. Que bueno."

And this guy has a 70 percent approval rating?

Partly, it's the press' fault that Bush is so popular. Since Sept. 11, they've made him out to be some kind of great war leader. Newsweek even compared him to Winston Churchill. Give me a break.

Mainly, though, the American public sees the president's behavior as a kind of anti-elitism. Actually, it's just the opposite. It's American chauvinism. Instead of giving countries like France and Japan and even Canada the respect they deserve, Americans like to feel superior to other countries. I mean, how un-American can you get, asking a Frenchman a question in French?

Remember when former journalists were prime candidates for work in public relations? What better way to achieve media placement than to use someone who's been on the inside?

Now there appears to be a reversal in the trend. Former PR people are going into journalism.

Kent Martin, after a long stint in PR, is news director at KTRS, and he's hired Jeff Fowler as a news anchor, even though Fowler is still working in PR.

Victor Ojeda left PR to go back to work as a reporter at KPLR (Channel 11).

And then there was Rick Edlund, who left political PR to go back to work as a news anchor, only to lose that job when the news department was wiped out.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:St. Louis Post-Dispatch coverage of baseball stadium financing; George W. Bush in France
Author:Bishop, Ed
Publication:St. Louis Journalism Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U4MO
Date:Jun 1, 2002
Previous Article:Post Metro desk reorganizes.
Next Article:Letters.

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