The Man Who 'Stood Up to Scaife'

By: Greg Mitchell In an age where critics often charge that liberals dominate newsrooms and actively squeeze out inconvenient conservatives, it's instructive to recall an incident from three decades ago when the big shoe was on the other foot.

The news hook for this walk down memory lane: the death of longtime newspaperman Jack Warne Carlton, last Friday, in North Huntington, Pa., due to heart failure. He was 71. Carlton had retired as a make-up editor at The Pittsburgh Press in 1990.

But he is remembered best today, where he is remembered at all, as the man who, in a widely-publicized incident, stood up to billionaire publisher Richard Mellon Scaife, then and now owner of the Tribune-Review, based in Greensburg, Pa. (It also serves Pittsburgh.)

The episode began on Oct. 10, 1973. Carlton was serving as night editor at Tribune-Review. I remember the date well. I was at Shea Stadium in New York at a pivotal Mets-Reds playoff game. It was the day Willie Mays got the last winning hit of his career, a swinging bunt, as the Mets won the National League pennant over the Big Red Machine.

But something else big happened that day: News flashed on the scoreboard that Vice President Spiro T. Agnew had resigned in disgrace. The crowd went wild.

Out in western Pennsylvania, someone else was among the vast majority of Americans who celebrated that day. After reading a wire service report on the Agnew resignation, a reporter at the Tribune-Review named Jude Dippold said, quite presciently, "One down and one to go." Of course, the ?one to go? was President Richard Nixon, then embroiled in the Watergate scandal.

Dippold later said he was ?just trying to be funny.?

Word quickly got back to Scaife, who had purchased the paper four years earlier, and who had donated $1 million to Nixon's 1972 campaign against George McGovern. Two days later, Dippold was fired. The Columbia Journalism Review declared that the reason was that "his political views didn't mesh with editorial policy.?

Carlton argued with Scaife about the firing, and ended up quitting in protest. Within hours, 10 of the paper's 24-person editorial staff also quit.

"He had a lot of principle," Dippold, now managing editor of the Warren (Pa.) Times Observer told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this past weekend. "There was no need for him to quit when I was fired, but he saw that it was wrong and said 'I'm not going to put up with this.'?

Months after the firing and mass defections, Scaife would disavow his support for Nixon -- and his paper would endorse his impeachment.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

Scroll the Latest Job Opportunities From The Media Job Board