Richard M. Nixon frequently referred to San Diego as his "lucky city," so great was the power of Union and Tribune publisher Jim Copley to sway public opinion.
"Dear Jim," began a November 1954 letter from the then-vice president to Copley. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the wonderful job the Copley papers did for our cause in the last campaign. Your Washington staff, as always, just couldn’t have been more cooperative."
Copley was eager to offer campaign wisdom to the president-to-be, as evidenced by a September 1960 memo he sent Herb Klein, a Copley editor on leave to assist the Nixon presidential campaign against John F. Kennedy.
“As a personal letter to you, I wish to say that I think Dick came out second best in the ‘debate’ last night," wrote Copley.
"I think the cameras played up Kennedy. Kennedy looked fresher; Dick looked tired, and I thought it was a shame that his suit did not appear too well on the set that I was looking at."
Copley continued, “Also, Kennedy’s expression seemed to indicate that he was ready for anything, whereas Dick’s expression was very studious, but to the point where it looked almost like he was mad or disturbed. I certainly hope we can do better in future exchanges.”
Flash forward to Spring 2015, and La Jolla developer Doug Manchester, Republican kingpin and publisher of the conflated U-T San Diego. Late last year, the voluble U-T owner signed on to the "advisory board" of RickPAC, ex-Texas governor Rick Perry's political action committee.
In addition to his political cash, Manchester used his newspaper to attack Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
"It could not be more obvious that foreign governments are attempting to buy favor with former President Bill Clinton and possible future President Hillary Clinton," stormed a March 11 editorial regarding contributions to the former president's nonprofit foundation.
"The Clintons can’t make the stench go away with their assurances that the de facto bribes were used to help worthy causes."
Another blast came April 28.
"It wasn’t Sarah Palin who revealed that the Clinton Foundation has been forced to refile at least five tax returns to reflect undisclosed donations from foreign governments that came while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. It was the Reuters international news agency."
Then, on May 21, Manchester sold the U-T to Chicago-based Tribune Publishing — the biggest single stockholder of which is Los Angeles billionaire Bruce Karsh's Oaktree Capital Management — and there was a sudden course correction.
An associate of L.A. billionaire Democrat Eli Broad, Karsh has been a longtime contributor to the presidential hopes of Hillary Clinton, and a major donor to the Bill Clinton foundation so often trashed by Manchester's U-T.
In addition, the paper's new publisher, Austin Beutner, is another Hillary Clinton supporter, close to billionaire Broad, and a Clinton administration veteran.
Though the paper has insisted that its editorials are still crafted in San Diego by former Manchester-era staffers, Clinton bashing has abruptly ceased, replaced with kinder, gentler words.
"People want something different. But they also want that something different delivered with ferocious attacks on the other party," says an August 19 editorial.
"This either-or worldview translates into difficult litmus tests for Clinton that she has been unable to finesse."
The daily then takes on GOP frontrunner Donald Trump: "But it is on the right — specifically with Trump — that this litmus-test mentality seems particularly freighted."
Opines the paper, "If Trump is going to stay in the race, sooner or later the question of electability will come into play for GOP voters, and he will go away. That remains our expectation — and very much our hope." (An accompanying cartoon compares Bill Clinton’s sperm on Monica Lewinsky’s dress to Hillary’s missing emails, though the editorial avoids that issue.)
Meanwhile, more of Clinton's controversial State Department emails have been released, revealing details of other relationships she and her husband have had with San Diego big-money Democrats.
A February 23, 2009, memo from the office of Bill Clinton to the State Department's Jim Thessin sought a "conflict of interest review" of the financial sponsors of events the former president was scheduled to attend.
On the list was a closed one-hour speech and a half-hour "photo line reception" that September 9, put on by the downtown San Diego law firm of Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP.
"Coughlin Stoia is a litigation firm that emphasizes securities, consumer, insurance, healthcare, human rights, employment discrimination and antitrust class actions," says the document.
Not mentioned was Democratic money man William Lerach, formerly chairman of the firm, who departed in 2008 to serve two years in federal prison after copping a plea to kickback-related charges.
Other veterans of Coughlin Stoia later formed Robbins, Geller, Rudman & Dowd, which last September 4 paid Hillary Clinton $225,500 to speak at a private event here, according to a federal disclosure filed this May.