News that the Los Angeles Register shut down for good yesterday isn't really news at all, because no one expected Orange County Register owner Aaron Kushner's pipe dream to survive. Hell, I remember promising in one of my KCRW-FM 89.9 "Orange County Line" commentaries that I'd eat an entire issue of the paper if it went past its one-year anniversary...and thankfully, that never came to pass, because I'd need a lot of Tapatío to push down that shit.
But what forced Kushner's hand to shut down his LA rag so relatively soon, according to sources, wasn't the daunting task of trying to open a new newspaper in the 21st century--he's shown time and time again he'll burn millions of dollars for the hell of it. Nope, the final push came in the form of the angry bill collector that is the Los Angeles Times
As I reported earlier this year in a cover story detailing Kushner's woes, Kushner owed the Times millions of dollars for them distributing the LA and OC Register, a fact verified by higher-ups on Spring Street. When I asked Kushner about it then, he only said that the Times had "never stopped distributing" the Orange County Register, not outright denying he owed them cash.
A couple of weeks ago, those same sources (gracias, sources!) started buzzing that Kushner still hadn't paid his bill to the Times, which through the year wanted to recoup some of the money (they got their own bills to pay, you know?) and didn't want to press Kushner too much. Enough was enough, though, and the Times had essentially told Kushner he had 30 days to pay up--or else.
That else came last week, when someone or someones convinced Kushner that the Times refusal to distribute the LA Reg would be the prime moment to pull the plug on the paper once and for all.
Neither Kushner nor his Minister of Information, Eric Morgan, talk to me anymore, so they didn't respond to my request for comment. But othersources at the Orange County Register (gracias, other sources!) say that many people there are looking for a way out, knowing that Kushner's grand experiment of hiring and buying up is now crashing toward them.
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"We're freaking out," one source said. "Absolute state of chaos."