Aaron Kushner: Our Own Journalism Jesus

[Moxley Confidential] The OC Register owner takes his savior schtick to MSNBC

Despite the numbers game, Kushner does deserve credit for sparking debate about improving journalism; relaunching the paper's D.C. bureau; strengthening the already-acclaimed investigative Watchdog team; adding a handful of new, competent reporters; making Long Beach a two-daily-paper city; giving attention to high schools; and improving morale. But how to test whether he's consistently giving readers more, uhh, coffee?

Let's compare Registers.

On the day before Kushner took control of the paper, it published 12 articles in the local news section. I randomly grabbed the same section of a paper published on the same day of the week after he set up the reader's paywall: July 8. How many local articles were stuffed into the much-ballyhooed new Reg?

bob aul


Drum roll, please.

The answer is 10, for a net of minus two.

At least on this day, Kushner, who graduated from Stanford in 1994, violated his model. You want to see a truly meaty Reg? Go back to any time in the '90s, when publishing 20 or more articles in the Local section was the norm.

There's also this fact: The paper's superstars today—journalists such as Teri Sforza, Larry Welborn, Jim Hinch, Jonathan Lansner, Martin Wisckol, Tony Saavedra, Frank Mickadeit, Jeff Collins, Sean Emery, Pat Brennan, Salvador Hernandez and Steve Fryer—were all at the paper eons before Kushner's arrival.

But at MSNBC, facts didn't get in the way with a coronation of the miracle maker. Except for Huffington Post White House correspondent Sam Stein, the hosts and panelists failed to challenge the Reg boss on a single dubious point. Scarborough even hailed his guest as "amazing."

"Some people would say I'm crazy, but no, the reality is that when I put more coffee in your coffee cup, you will return," a satisfied, smiling Kushner reiterated.

"This is amazing!" Scarborough concluded. "This is great news! I love it!"

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