Before she became a PBS news star, Margaret Garrard Warner was a reporter in the 1970s at the San Diego Union, the newspaper owned by wealthy Republican Helen Copley and run by editor Jerry Warren, former White House spokesman for Richard Nixon. Warner came west from Washington to help the Union, then the sister paper of the evening Tribune, do battle with the Los Angeles Times, which had set out to topple the Copley papers from their politically powerful monopoly perches.
Warner drew the wrath of Ronald Reagan when she wrote about his “imperial candidacy” for the presidency while he was on a swing though San Diego. In an October 1979 letter to her, now archived among his presidential papers, the ex-California governor responded, “It is true that Jim Lake shut off one question after he had signaled the end of the end of the press conference, but isn’t that customary? Would it have been fair to let one reporter have an added question without giving others the same opportunity?”
Warner faced more GOP wrath when she drew the admiration of Richard Silberman, the Democratic Jack-in-the-Box hamburger millionaire who had been squiring Union publisher Helen Copley around town before their sudden breakup. With the Union’s successor Union-Tribune on the verge of possible collapse due to the implosion of the nation’s newspaper industry, Warner returns here October 22 as the keynote speaker at the San Diego Diplomacy Council’s annual gala. The topic: “Media & Diplomacy, the Ripple Effect.”