Lord Black of USP Marion
Conrad Black might have been confused regarding the circumstances surrounding his “boxes” at the 10 Toronto Street Hollinger HQ, but his Chicago jury wasn’t. And, thanks to some inexpensive security cameras, a Chicago jury was able to sum up Lord Black’s time at Hollinger in a single image. This phase of the Trial of the Century© is over, and it is now off to the gallows at USP Marion as a result…unless Lord Black is successful on appeal.
None of this can come as any surprise if you’d read Tom Bower’s book, for example (which resulted in a libel suit from Lord Black). And not to pretend that this jury decision could have been predicted, we’ve been blogging on this story for a bit ourselves:
Is Lord Black waiting in vain? July 4-07
Maclean’s reads blogs. March 31-07
Conrad – longing for the 1800s. March 30-07
Will Mark Slackmeyer broadcast Black Trial? March 14-07
If you are keen reader of Doonesbury, you might have picked up on the Mark Slackmeyer reference in the March 14th post above, and understood its meaning. Here’s an excerpt from that post:
I can’t stop thinking about the famous Watergate era Doonesbury cartoon that ran on May 29, 1973.
Now that Lord Black has been convicted, all can be revealed. Mark Slackmeyer’s line, if you were ever curious, was “Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!” (Slackmeyer was referring to Watergate conspirator John Mitchell; long before the trial had run its course.) At the time, a dozen major newspapers refused to run the comic strip that day, with The Washington Post summing up the mood with: “There can’t be two standards of justice: one for the editorial page and another for the comics page.”
Back in March, having just finished the Bower book, that comic strip seemed so apropos in Lord Black’s situation (subject to his appeal, of course).
It is all such a shame and a waste of a unique talent.
About six weeks ago, my father blogged about the cover story he wrote in 1978 as Business Editor of Maclean’s Magazine on a young Conrad Black. In that post, he referred to an encounter I had the day Mr. Black stopped by the Maclean’s newsroom to pick up a copy of the piece; Mr. Black didn’t want to wait for the newsstand version.
By sheer coincidence, I happened to travel down in the elevator of the Maclean-Hunter building with him. As we exited the building onto Dundas Street, just east of University, I introduced myself and asked him if I could take his photograph. I was 12 at the time, and was trying to start a career as a newsphotographer (my first pro photos didn’t run in a national newspaper for another two years). Mr. Black agreed to stand on the sidewalk for a moment to allow me to grab a shot, but only after this ominous warning: “You’d better not use that photo, or you’ll be in a lot of trouble.”
In the photo, he is holding up the magazine, sporting an impish smile.
When you are 12, and a titan of finance threatens you, it sticks in your memory. Decades later, I still don’t know what he thought he might do to me for taking his photograph on a Toronto sidewalk. It was a public place, after all. And minutes earlier, he’d been on the property of a major cable and publishing organization, so in neither instance could he feel that this was his turf.
But, of course, he did. It WAS his turf. All of it.
Even though Canada has no laws preventing 12 year-old would-be newsphotographers from taking photos of someone standing on a public sidewalk, Mr. Black was going to – I assume – sue me anyway. Or call my father. Or have me barred from Humberside Collegiate before I could start grade 9 that Fall.
When I think about what happened at Hollinger, I honestly believe that I had a glimpse of Mr. Black’s psychosis that day in May of 1978. He didn’t think the rules of society applied to him. And that’s why the walls came tumbling down on him earlier today.
It is certainly a shame. But for all the sympathetic nonsense written by Ms. Blachford and Ms. Wente over the past few months in the Globe and Mail, the conviction is a just outcome.