Ed Driscoll

Hot Tube Time Machine, Part Deux

Say what you will about the Chicago Tribune, this is the second time in less than a month that it’s been reported that someone on the paper has exhibited an attitude straight out the pre-PC cleanup days of Mad Men and Animal House.

Last time around, it was Randy Michaels, the top executive handpicked by Sam Zell to run the Tribune, the L.A. Times, WGN TV, and other Zell acquisitions. In January of 2008, at the bar in the InterContinental Hotel, which is adjacent to the Tribune Tower in Chicago, Michaels offered a waitress “$100 to show him her breasts,” as other Tribune executives looked on in horror, at least according to the New York Times.

This time, it’s Tribune Co. Chief Innovation Officer Lee Abrams:

Abrams, who began the workweek by sending a companywide e-mail that contained content deemed inappropriate, resigned Friday.

The e-mail, the latest in a weekly series of free-form observations and exhortations Abrams sent to all Tribune Co. employees in hopes of inspiring them to reconsider print and broadcast conventions, included links to video newscast parodies. One, which contained profanity and nudity, was labeled “Sluts.”

Tribune Co. Chief Executive Randy Michaels, whose leadership of the Chicago-based company was characterized a week earlier by The New York Times as fostering a sexist “frat house” atmosphere, informed staff that he accepted the resignation, effective immediately.

Abrams earlier apologized “to everyone who was offended” after some Tribune employees, including Chicago Tribune Editor Gerould Kern, registered complaints with the company’s human resources department.

On Wednesday, placing Abrams on indefinite unpaid suspension, Michaels said the satire was “in extremely bad taste” and sending it to all Tribune employees was “the kind of serious mistake that can’t be tolerated.”

Live by the diktats of Political Correctness, die by it as well. On the other hand, at least one aspect of the Ben Hecht, Front Page-era of rough and tumble Chicago journalism continues, albeit with yet another PC twist, as Chicago reporters also double as palace guards to the city’s Ruling Class these days:  “Arrest Warrant Filed for CBS Reporter Jay Levine: The Rahm Protection Fallout.”