Sam Zell is turning out to be prickly about having his wisdom about journalism challenged, even slightly. He got all huffy about a question in one of his visits to the L.A. Times last year, and whined to higher-ups at the paper when columnist Steve Lopez deigned to knock on his door in Malibu. Last week at the Orlando Sentinel, he capped off an answer to photographer Sara Fajardo — who dared to question his news values — by saying "fuck you." Half under his breath — but caught on video posted at Gawker. Zell later called twice to apologize, but the comments from Gawker readers are brutal:
BY UH OH... Does he have Tourette's?
BY VOXPOPULI He has the voice, demeanor and look of a panhandler at the Port Authority, so yeah, in that context it makes a bit more sense.
BY VALERIE FLAME Oh, I'm talking? Out loud? Thought I was just thinking.
Zell makes a return visit to the Times on Thursday. For that one, publisher David Hiller says "Sam will make lots of time for Q and A, so feel free to ask him whatever's on your mind." Then duck!
But he's also funny: Zell sent the LAT pressroom blog a photo of himself smiling and tugging on his earlobe, which is the pressmen's adopted code for throwing a "fuck you" at supervisors. Ed Padgett explains, and observes in an aside: "The Los Angeles Times Olympic Pressroom is a powder keg ready to explode."
* Update: Times covers the story.