McClatchy Employees Cheer Iraqi Shoe Tosser as Stock Plunges 99%

Employees of McClatchy publishing in Iraq were in an unusually good mood recently. The occasion was the aftermath of the Iraqi journalist who tossed his shoes at President Bush at a press conference in Baghdad as you can see in these quotes from Inside Iraq, a blog for McClatchy journalists working in that country. The first quote was from McClatchy employee, "Laith," who was talking about his colleagues and the rest of the quotes were from commentors who may or may not be employed by McClatchy:

Some of the guys were happy and they were talking about the bravery of the journalist who threw his shoes at the American president. When I tried to explain my opinion, I was trying to tell the guys that I don't agree with the way the journalist behaved, but I was attacked by them. One of them said "come on Laith, Bush destroyed Iraq". Another said "he deserves more" while a third one said "he is an occupier." I tried to tell to tell they guys that this is an inslut for Maliki.

The "Shoe heard round the world" was an important symbolic event. I felt his action was appropriate and restrained considering the circumstances.

I applauded this act. I don't care that it is rude. Why are we concerned about etiquette when a country was destroyed? Did Bush ever apologize to the Iraqis for the hundreds of thousands of dead? Bush is an occupier, a clown pretending to be a hero, so enclosed in his own little self-certain world he probably was surprised an Iraqi could be that angry. I am not surprised. I am only surprised such a thing did not happen earlier. 

Yes, yes, my little McClatchy journalists. Better get all the enjoyment you can out of the shoe tossing incident because soon there will be another tossing event that you will not appreciate quite so much: namely being tossed out of your jobs. While you are busy cheering on the shoe tosser, perhaps you might not have noticed that the McClatchy stock price has plunged about 99%  to a mere 75 cents per share from where it was in 2005 at almost $80 per share when your CEO, Gary Pruitt (photo), began going on a spending spree buying up newspapers when it was already clear to almost any sane person that print media was in a permanent downswing due to the internet. Pruitt's purchase of newspapers around the country goes down in the history of stupid business decisions with Quaker Oats' purchase of Snapple and Schlitz beer's decision to cut costs by changing its fermentation process (along with its taste). 

The result is that McClatchy is in the process of attempting to get rid of many of its newspapers at much less than Pruitt paid for them including the Miami Herald which still has no buyers interested in purchasing that losing enterprise. In fact, Pruitt's Folly has gotten so bad that in his own words he is having trouble finding a buyer just for the Herald parking lot:

We’re selling 10 acres of land, a parking lot adjacent to The Miami Herald building for a price of $190 million. We have a good dialogue with the sellers and we’re hopeful that that deal closes. It’s a real estate contract which means we can’t guarantee that that deal will close. We’re hopeful that it will and 100% of the proceeds, which after tax would be about $115 million, will be used to pay down debt.

Gary Pruitt isn't alone in his total cluelessness. As we have seen in these pages, Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times, is every bit as capable of making incredibly stupid business decisions as Pruitt.  However, at least Pinch has the excuse of being born with the correct family name and living through birth for being given a task he can't handle. What's your excuse, Gary? 

The most astonishing thing about Gary Pruitt is that he is still CEO of McClatchy. What more bad news do the stockholders need to fire him?  For every thousand dollars of stock purchased in 2005, they are now left with a mere ten bucks of value...and perhaps even less in the very near future. And yet Pruitt remains at the helm. Another mysterious thing about Pruitt is why he has not quit McClatchy. Perhaps the salary, bonuses for underachievement, and the fringe benefits such as being able to charge off expensive hotel stays and dining on Kobe beef is much too alluring and overwhelms any shame Pruitt might feel by continuing to lead a publishing company he has run into the ground. 

Since this is Christmas Day, here is my fantasy speech that Gary Pruitt should deliver if he ever feels the slightest bit of remorse for tossing McClatchy into the ash heap: 

"Hi. I'm Gary Pruitt, CEO of McClatchy. Today I want to give you a frank talk about our company without any unrealistic Baghdad Bob type happy talk. The bottom line is that I have run our company into the ground over the last three years as a result of incredibly dumb business decisions. I began buying up newspapers in 2005 when it was already obvious even to an infant that they were losing circulation rapidly due to the internet. What the hell was I thinking? The only answer is that I wasn't thinking. I should have left this company in disgrace years ago but hung on just so I could collect on all the CEO goodies. However, I now realize that I have overstayed my welcome and am announcing my resignation from McClatchy. So shamed am I by losing billions of dollars and thousands of jobs that I have decided to go into permanent exile with my surfboard off the coast of Satellite Beach. Finally I would like to thank ol' PJ for making me aware of why my resignation is so necessary. As a result, my last official act as McClatchy CEO will be to send him a large doggie bag stuffed with Kobe beef."

Of course, I realize such a speech is strictly a fantasy. Oh, except for the Kobie beef doggie bag part. That I definitely want Pruitt to deliver on.

Meanwhile, to all you McClatchy "journalists" cheering on the Iraqi shoe tosser... enjoy your good mood for now. It won't be lasting long.

And don't forget that Kobe beef, Gary.

H/T: Herald Watch

P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog.