Hearst vows highAssociated Press
ethics at Chronicle
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Hearst Corp. appointed a former federal judge today to review the editorial policies of its flagship newspaper, and reassured staffers of the rival San Francisco Chronicle that its ethical standards will be "inviolable" if it takes over their paper.
Charles B. Renfrew of San Francisco, who specializes in internal corporate investigations, will lead "an internal review of editorial policies at the San Francisco Examiner," Hearst said in a statement.
The review was motivated by the testimony of Examiner editor and publisher Timothy White, who said in court last week that he had offered Mayor Willie Brown favorable editorial treatment in exchange for the mayor's support of Hearst's purchase of the Chronicle.
Hearst executives said it will be up to Renfrew, who also once served as a deputy U.S. attorney general, to decide how far to go with the probe.
"There will be unlimited access to any and all employees and any and all documents," said James Asher, Hearst chief legal officer for development.
White testified he offered the mayor favorable editorial treatment on Aug. 30. White later disavowed the testimony in a statement Hearst sent to the media. Examiner Executive Editor Phil Bronstein, who said he was at the meeting between White and Brown, said White made no such offer, and denied the newspaper's opinion pages were improperly slanted in Brown's favor.
Hearst suspended White after his testimony, and named George Irish, president of Hearst newspapers, as acting publisher of the Examiner.
White's testimony came during a trial in federal court to decide whether Hearst can buy the Chronicle for $660 million and pay a local publisher to take the Examiner off its hands. Former mayoral candidate Clint Reilly is trying to persuade a judge to block the Chronicle purchase as a violation of antitrust law.
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