Hey, look. I'm completely open to the idea that the Tribune-Review's "Rohr Box" is over the top. (Every day it pairs a photo of PNC honcho Jim Rohr with a brief caption blasting him for accepting subsidies to build PNC's new skyscraper.) But the fact that the Post-Gazette is running a story about it would seem to indicate that the campaign is having at least one of its desired effects: Getting under people's skin.
Here's an interesting bit from the article::
"I think there are all kinds of good reasons to cringe at this kind of campaign, which comes very close to suggesting that this guy, himself, Jim Rohr, is pocketing this money," said former newspaper editor and columnist Edward Wasserman, now a professor of journalism ethics at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va.
Say what you want about the Trib, but I don't think it has done that at all. As far as I can tell, it has never said or implied that Rohr is diverting this money to his own accounts. Of course, I would be willing to look at evidence to the contrary.
But in the meantime, would it be indelicate to point out that the Post-Gazette is not exactly unfamiliar with the art of character assassination? (You knew this was coming) I can think of the PG's wild campaign of shrieking in support of the smoking ban. You know, in which the Post-Gazette said that "legislators need to stop kissing the feet of these businessmen and tobacco lobbyists and focus on two points made by the surgeon general." Which of course means that they currently are kissing the feet of these people. Which is certainly a step beyond "agreeing" with them. So what form does this foot kissing take? This is clearly as much an insinuation of graft and corruption as anything I have seen in the Trib.
Unsatisfied with that smear, the Post-Gazette later said: "More important, it is immoral to contend that profits trump workers' health." Um... did anyone say that? And for good measure, the editors added: "The only thing dirtier than the cigarette smoke in this situation is the politics."
So. The Post Gazette has painted people opposed to a smoking ban as corrupt, as immoral and as dirty politicians. While Mr. Rohr has someone criticizing him for accepting $48 million in public subsidies to assist his very profitable company.
The only difference that I can see between these two campaigns is that the Trib can actually prove that Rohr is doing what they say he is doing. In fact, he is not denying it. He is taking the subsidies. Can the Post-Gazette prove that anyone is kissing the feet of Big Tobacco? That anyone is immoral? That dirty politics are involved? If so, shouldn't they break such stories? Or at least stop preaching to the Trib?