Sometimes I think our profession is bent on self-destruction. In the breathtaking space of not-quite -24 hours, the Los Angeles Times publisher David Hiller has killed an opinion section that featured guest writers invited by Hollywood producer Brian Grazer. And the editorial page editor, Andres Martinez, has, in response, resigned. Why? Because a publicist who worked for Grazer was the girlfriend of Martinez. Pause to take this all in. The mind reels.
Here’s an excerpt from LA Times’ Jim Rainey’s on-line account, along with Martinez’s resignation note:
"An emotional internal rift rocked the Los Angeles Times today, as Publisher David D. Hiller scrapped a special edition of the paper’s Sunday opinion section to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, causing editorial page editor Andres Martinez to resign in protest. The paper had been scheduled today to print an edition of its Current opinion section edited by Hollywood producer Brian Grazer, but Hiller announced this morning that he would not publish the section because it "might appear that something might not be quite right."
Hiller said he had only learned in the last few days that Grazer was represented by Kelly Mullens, Martinez’s girlfriend — leaving at least the appearance that the producer of "A Beautiful Mind" and other films might have received a special favor as the first "guest editor" of Current.
A controversy that had burst into public view only a day earlier escalated today as Martinez delivered an extraordinary online resignation, some of his colleagues rose up to protest that he had been targeted by enemies in The Times’ news operation, and his second-in-command scrambled to produce a replacement section."