On Friday, the suits at Digital First Media, the new-ish owners of the Orange County Register, told the paper's editorial-page manager John Seiler that his position was being eliminated. He was given just a couple of hours to gather his belongings and exit the building—an ignominious end to a 29-year career writing for OC's paper of record, and the end of an era when the Register's op-ed pages actually mattered.
Oh, we've trashed the Register at every opportunity possible as long as we've been around, and we've taken particular glee aiming the Reg's opinion pages, whether it's its batshit-loco Letters section or Brian Calle, the Reg's current Opinions editor and the head of opinions for the Southern California News Group who allowed an editorial to get printed that blasted former Assemblymember Don Wagner for running against State Senator John Moorlach even though he wasn't. But in the mid-2000s, there was perhaps no editorial board for a major daily newspaper more radical than the Register's group.
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It was a Murderer's Row of modern libertarian thought between columnists Steve Greenhut, Chris Reed, Seiler, and the late Alan Bock. Despite working for a conservative paper in Orange County, they were against the Iraq War (one of the few dailies to do so), against the War on Drugs, trashed Sheriff Mike Carona (whose apologists Greenhut memorably called "Caronies"), took on local corruption, blasted the Catholic Church's sex-abuse scandal and so much more. They had an in-house cartoonist in Mike Shelton, and a wonderful Letters editor in Betty Talbert, who—believe it or not, and no one will—was the person who got me into journalism. Oh, we didn't agree with everything that the Reg's opinion sections published (especially all that free-enterprise wackiness), and their syndicated columns were always filled with lunatics like Michelle Malkin—but it was eminently readable, and more leftist than they'll ever admit.
And now, it's all gone.
On his Facebook page, Seiler posted a photo of the Reg's editorial page team circa 2005. "10 great people, all now somewhere else. After my layoff yesterday, the staff is down to four, only one writing full time. That's how much the industry has been downsized."
Seiler's layoff came on the heels of last month's layoff of Mike Tipping, who had worked at the Register for 22 years, the last 11 as a columns editor for the Opinions section. Who'll get axed next?