David Hiller, the new L.A. Times publisher who pushed out editor Dean Baquet last week, gave $1,000 to the Republican National Committee as recently as 2003. Since 2000, while an executive at Tribune, he has donated $9,500 to the party and various Republican candidates, including unsuccessful U.S. Senate hopeful in California Tom Campbell, Sen. Conrad Burns in Montana and Illinois congressman Henry Hyde. The numbers come from FEC filings via Newsmeat.com. In 1999 he gave a grand each to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and John McCain. No contributions could be found for the previous Times publisher. (* Update: Top Tribune executive Dennis FitzSimons also gave $2,000 to McCain and more recently donated to Democrats, $1,000 to Rep. John Dingell and $500 to Sen. Richard Durbin.)
Meanwhile, in today's Current section, Hiller bylines his first piece for the Times — about his good friend and squash partner Donald Rumsfeld:
There was a period in the late 1990s when Don Rumsfeld and I played squash almost every month in Chicago, and before I say anything else, I should acknowledge this: He beat me almost all the time, even though, as he regularly pointed out, he was "almost old enough" to be my father....Don also held the strategic ground in the center of the court better than anybody. We once collided as we both moved there, and I couldn't play for a week. Don moved well, certainly for a guy in his 60s. As he said, "I'm quick, not fast."
Were these the qualities he brought to his job as secretary of Defense? I'm not sure, but I suspect that the rules he lived by were the same ones he played by, and I thought of them again as I watched the president announce Don's resignation.
It's just a small inside piece in the section, but gets top billing (with photo) on the opinion page of the Times website. It's also the main Opinion refer on LATimes.com this afternoon — they learn fast there how to keep the boss happy. This just in: Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Welch emails that the play was solely his call. "Web-design decision," he explains.
Times related: Departing editor Dean Baquet knew by Halloween night that he was finished, and got a courtesy call from James O'Shea before the Chicago Tribune #2 took the job. (E&P via Romenesko)