The Tucson Citizen published its last print edition on Saturday, ending one of the longest running papers in Arizona. Proving that politicians think they know how to run businesses better than businesses do, Attorney General Terry Goddard pulled a bizarre legal maneuver by suing to force the Tucson Citizen to continue publishing.
The paper was losing $10,000 per day with no change in site. Yet Goddard was trying to impose the power of government to ensure that the business went further and further in the red. In court, Goddard’s attorney’s initially tried to argue that this was a First Amendment issue – that the paper shutting down was silencing speech. This is an absurd argument, given that the First Amendment protects the rights of the press from government intervention. Talk about reverse reasoning.
Goddard also tried to argue that this was somehow an antitrust issue because it gave the Arizona Daily Star a monopoly. If that is Goddard’s stance, then I fully expect that his next suit will be against Gannett to force them to resurrect the Phoenix Gazette, since the Arizona Republic is in a monopoly situation.
How out of touch with reality and how arrogant does a public official have to be to think that this is somehow “protecting rights” or engaging in good government. This is exactly the kind of situation that belies the notion that liberal Democrats are not anti-business. Is Goddard going to start suing McDonalds when it closes a location? Will he sue Circuit City for closing their store on Happy Valley Road because the Best Buy across the street is now a monopoly?
Thankfully, Judge Raner Collins didn’t buy this nonsense and upheld the closure of the Citizen. The Arizona Daily Star is a well-run, solid paper that will continue to cover the news of the day, so Goddard should apologize for wasting everyone’s time and money. Gannett and the Star should counter-sue for attorney fees.
I have two remaining burning questions: what was Goddard really thinking? Where is Greg Patterson on this?