Neuharth at ‘USA Today’ Bash: Suffering from ‘Grandiose Delusional Disorder’?

By: E&P Staff

A luncheon in New York today marks the 25th anniversary of the arrival of USA Today. But late last week, Al Neuharth, USA Today founder and former chair and chief executive officer of Gannett Co., Inc., addressed more than 1,200 guests and staff at a reception at the newspaper’s headquarters in McLean, Va..

Here are some excerpts from Neuharth’s remarks.

What a difference 25 years has made!

That unforgettable night of USA TODAY’s vol. 1, no. 1, I stood on a platform on the Capitol grounds with the President of the United States, the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House.

Tonight … well, I’m here tonight with the best editor [Ken Paulson], the best publisher [Craig A. Moon] and the best media company boss [Craig A. Dubow].

I’m overwhelmed by how many of you are here. Now I finally understand why Doug McCorkindale and Larry Miller kept bugging me about USA TODAY being overstaffed!

I see so many of you I’d like to thank by name individually publicly for all you’ve done to help McPaper make it. But if I did, this would go on all night. So, as I told several of you earlier this week, I won’t mention any names.

I realize the risk that runs with the press east of the Potomac and east of the Hudson. Apparently there’s already been a leak. A source — who requested to remain anonymous (of course) — told me earlier that one major newspaper has prepared a story draft for tomorrow that begins like this:

“Neuharth didn’t mention any of the hundreds present by name. He appeared not to recognize them. Now 83, he looked frail and confused. A source close to him, who requested to remain anonymous (of course), said he suffers from ‘Grandiose Delusional Disorder’.”

That sent me to your library to the Merck Manual of Medical Information. This is Merck’s definition of Grandiose Delusional Disorder: “Convinced that he has some great talent or has made some great discovery.”

So, that newspaper may finally get it right! Remember, 25 years ago most of our media friends said that I was just plain nuts and predicted USA TODAY would be a great disaster, not a great discovery!

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