The Union-Tribune this weekend tried a trick that is not used so much these days: trying to cleanse a story in another publication before it has run.
On Saturday (February 17), the U-T tried to whitewash a Washington Post story that would not run until the next day (Sunday, February 18.) The U-T headline proclaimed, “Manchester issues apology to any ‘demeaned’ employees.” Manchester claimed that while he headed the U-T, he became aware of “egregious mistakes by staff members.” When he learned of those actions by others, “I immediately took appropriate action.” The "U-T TV" station, born under Manchester, had a “fraternity-style atmosphere on some of its programs,” said the U-T. The U-T fielded harassment complaints, but Manchester claimed that he immediately took action.
Jeff Light, current editor and publisher of the U-T, conceded that Manchester “hired some people of low competence, and in some cases, low character.” The U-T asked some of its reporters if they had been harassed or filed complaints and they all said no.
The headline in this morning’s Washington Post is “Trump ambassador nominee had unsettling management stye, women say.” (Manchester has applied to be named ambassador to the Bahamas, where he has a home: there has been no action for a year.) The story, by Robert O’Harrow Jr., tells a different tale. A caller to the paper said that there was “offensive behavior by Manchester and his team,” but the paper did little about it. O’Harrow talked with about two dozen former employees who did not want to be identified because of Manchester’s status in the community.
Manchester, former chief executive John Lynch, and Light claimed no one had accused Manchester of sexual harassment, "but the current staffers and former employees said the atmosphere was retrograde and often disrespectful toward women,” said the Post.
Cory Fish, a former U-T human resources executive, was quoted as saying of Manchester, “He’s an older man who has a history of liking young women.” (Manchester’s second wife, who came to the United States from Siberia, is about half Manchester’s age. They now have three babies.)
The Post story focuses on the long-deceased U-T TV. Light is quoted saying, “The news staff was…repulsed by the sexist vibe of the programming.” The Post says, “One woman who was asked to wear a short dress and serve as host at newspaper events said she felt uncomfortable but that she went along with the requests because she was young and naive.” She was 22 at the time.
Manchester and his wife gave about $1 million to groups supporting Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, according to the Post.