Let us lift a Potrero Hill martini for Thomas Peele of the Contra Costa Times/Singleton papers. He criticized Singleton by name for sealing court records in the Hearst/Singleton antitrust case.

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I'm drinking a Potrero Hill martini in honor of Thomas Peele, the investigative reporter on the Contra Costa Times/Dean Singleton papers.

He did what few editorial staffers do in these dread days of mega media mergers and resulting layoffs: he sharply criticized his new boss in a "guest commentary" column in his own paper, the CCTimes.

He was commenting on the federal court ruling that sealed the records in the Clint Reilly/Joe Alioto antitrust case aimed at breaking up the Hearst/Singleton deal that would destroy daily competiton and impose regional monopoly on the Bay Area.

His lead: "Many believe newspapers are too much of a public trust to act like any other business. Their corporate owners are not among them." His conclusion: "With his recent acquisitions, Singleton has moved up another notch in his publishing ascent. His friendship with Bush, his considerable wealth, his abundant Texas charm, combine to allow him lead on free-press and freedom-of-information issues through the principles he avows. His position would be stronger if he begins applying those principles to his own company."

To his credit, Singleton answered Peele's tough questions and Peele quoted him in the article. And Singleton and the CCTimes and Singleton managers allowed Peele's piece to run in Sunday's paper and posted it on the CCTimes website this morning.

Could this ever happen at the Chronicle/Hearst? Well, it won't happen until the moment Hearst starts allowing its staff to cover such censored stories as the PG@E/RakerAct scandal (a censored story since the late l920s after Hearst got some timely fresh capital from a PG@E-controlled bank in return for flipping on their support of public power (to be laid out in coming blogs). The latest censored Hearst story: the Chronicle still hasn't published the big Hearst prescription drug price scandal story, which was run as a lead story in the Wall Street Journal, with versions by the Associated Press, the Guardian, and even the Hearst-owned Houston Chronicle. (see previous blogs).

And nobody from Hearst corporate or Hearst San Francisco will answer my email questions as to why the story wasn't published in the Chronicle and when it would be or provided an explanation for the embarrassing corporate blackout. B3, who can see the fumes from the Potrero Hill power plant from my desk, courtesy of PG@E and Hearst.

P.S. And the Potrero HIll martini? That is a story for another blog.

Freedom of information must be an unwavering principle by Thomas Peele

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