Chaos at the Register. Will Heads Roll?




Friday’s OC Register story on the fraud charges against Red County publisher Chip Hanlon was shocking, not because of the content, but because it was actually a decent piece of journalism. There was a link to the source document from the SEC, and there were quotes. Not quotes from the usual suspects, but quotes from the SEC order.

What was going on here?

Journalism at the Register? I realize that even a blind hog can dig up an acorn once and again, but still…. Then I noticed the byline. The first story about Hanlon was not written by Marty Wisckol, but instead by the excellent real estate reporter, Jonathan Lansner. I don’t know why Lansner caught this story, but it made all the difference in the world.

By Saturday, the Register had returned to form, when ever-reliable Wisckol took up Hanlon’s defense. Why it was just a misunderstanding, where those damn bureaucrats said one thing five years ago and something else now. Once Marty had the old Chipster on the phone, did he ask him about the “precarious finances” that had been reported, or the two large unpaid judgments that had were detailed? Why no, of course not, how gauche the very thought!

[NB: If Mayor Quimby were Art Pedroza, this would be where he would insert a gratuitous, scurrilous aside about Wisckol’s quote from another minor OC blogger.  Ain’t gonna happen.  Stop being so damn paranoid, Dan.]

So in any case, all’s right at the Register again. The natural order of things is restored. We are back to the familiar patient, unquestioning, uncritical stenography of Republicans, unrelenting criticism of Democrats and their allies, and every story about politics written through the filter of comments by the usual sources from Marty’s rolodex.

The cigar-chomping courtier-columnist Frank Mickadeit will take time out from writing about his own stuff and fluffing Jim Righeimer for a column defending Hanlon.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Meanwhile, on Monday, heads will no doubt roll at the Register. What nincompoop of an editor assigned a real reporter to a political story? How the hell was this article published? If one slip-up like this happens, what is next? We might see criticism of Dave Elis or an article that was actually about Jerry Brown, rather than another lickspittle piece about local Republicans’ reaction to Jerry Brown.

The Register has built its “brand,” such as it is, on appealing to aging white conservatives to an extent that one good flu epidemic would reduce their readership to single digits. We can not let them down!

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