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L.A.Times reporters knock Patrick Soon-Shiong's daughter

Blocking of Illumina-Grail deal casts cloud on Scott Peters money raising

San Diego State University, widely criticized for stonewalling reporters’ questions about an alleged gang rape involving its football team, is cohosting a so-called Festival of Journalism with the Union-Tribune.
San Diego State University, widely criticized for stonewalling reporters’ questions about an alleged gang rape involving its football team, is cohosting a so-called Festival of Journalism with the Union-Tribune.

Festival unseating

The Journalism and Media Studies school at San Diego State University, widely criticized for stonewalling reporters’ questions about an alleged gang rape involving its football team, is cohosting a so-called Festival of Journalism with the Union-Tribune. The San Diego paper failed to report the story until it was scooped by its big sister, the Los Angeles Times, in June.

“This is your chance to get to know people reporting on the biggest stories in San Diego,” says an irony-laden U-T house ad for the October 15 event, set to feature a panel called “Gang rape: an accusation, a football star, and 10 months of silence.”

Meanwhile, Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of the Times and U-T, drew blistering reviews from a large cadre of unnamed Times editorial workers in a lengthy September 18 Politico piece headlined “Tensions rise between the LA Times and its billionaire owner.” Per the story, “Times journalists continue to fear that the paper is stuck in a helpless middle ground: identifying as a national player but without the readership of its biggest competitors; eager to adapt to the digital era but uncertain about how best to do it; blessed with a billionaire benefactor but unclear on his vision.”

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Platformed: Nika Soon-Shiong

The political activity of Nika Soon-Shiong, the publisher’s outspokenly liberal daughter, has been an unwelcome flashpoint for the paper, says the story. “After Nika Soon-Shiong received an appointment to serve as a West Hollywood Public Safety Commissioner — which advises city government on public safety reforms — Times journalists said she had, on at least two occasions, pitched them on the commission’s work and complained about headlines. One senior reporter at the Times said it’s hard to know ‘where Nika starts and the paper stops.’”

According to Politico: “Nika Soon-Shiong acknowledged that she does, in an advisory role for the paper, ‘advocate’ for her interests, specifically on criminal justice reform and poverty. ‘There are profound problems with the media’s coverage of safety issues,’ she said, ‘and these problems sometimes manifest themselves at the LA Times, just as they do at virtually every other major outlet.’” Adds the piece, “As Nika Soon-Shiong’s political activism grew, it became harder for the paper to chart out coverage that converged with her interests. Staffers grew alarmed when she clashed with an editor on the Metro desk earlier this year over the Times’ reporting on the LAPD. It was not lost on staff that they did not initially report on the public safety commission’s decision to reduce funding for the LA County Sheriff’s Department — a move she pushed for aggressively and one that was covered widely by other Los Angeles outlets.”

Perhaps more to the point of San Diego observers worried about his long-term staying power at the U-T, Politico describes Soon-Shiong’s focus as “fleeting” and “impulsive,” adding that despite his huge wealth, “several former staffers complained about the company’s antiquated publishing technology and the small engineering staff. The former executive said the search system is ‘still very janky’ and that the paper still doesn’t have control over its complete archives.”

Scott Peters wants to solve problems.

Scott’s unilluminated deal

Congress’s special interest money derby, which is especially busy this mid-term election year, has been joined by a San Diego player: Big Pharma’s friend and Congressman Scott Peters of La Jolla. The super-rich Democrat has set up a political action committee called the Supporting House Problem Solvers PAC.

So far in the 2022 cycle, according to the non-profit Open Secrets website, the fund has raked in $184,200 and distributed the same to 55 House Democratic candidates, as well as paying $7,150 for a fundraising bash at the posh Torrey Pines lodge. The Peters’ PAC donor list is studded with biotech players, including Alex Karnal, reported by Bloomberg on March 3 to be starting up a $3.5 billion hedge fund, one of the “biggest U.S. launches in years.” Named Braidwell, the firm “will make public and private health-care investments, with a focus on biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices and diagnostics, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Added the story, “As much as 20% of Braidwell’s fund will focus on investing in the equity and debt of early-to late-stage private companies as well as providing structured debt to public companies, the people said.” Karnal, listed by the PAC’s disclosure as “not employed,” kicked in $5000 on March 1. Other $5000 contributors included Apellis Pharmaceuticals Inc.

CEO Cedric Francois, of Louisville, Kentucky, on February 28, and Foresite Capital CEO Jim Tananbaum on the same date. Jeff Huber, reported to be in line for a super-bundle when Grail, a biotech outfit he cofounded, was sold to San Diego-based Illumina for $8 billion in 2020, was another $5000 giver to the Peters fund. But the Illumina-Grail deal was blocked on September 6 by European antitrust regulators, concerned that the high-tech combination would hurt competition and raise prices for cancer diagnostics. Illumina vowed to appeal, but its stock has since tanked.

— Matt Potter (@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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San Diego State University, widely criticized for stonewalling reporters’ questions about an alleged gang rape involving its football team, is cohosting a so-called Festival of Journalism with the Union-Tribune.
San Diego State University, widely criticized for stonewalling reporters’ questions about an alleged gang rape involving its football team, is cohosting a so-called Festival of Journalism with the Union-Tribune.

Festival unseating

The Journalism and Media Studies school at San Diego State University, widely criticized for stonewalling reporters’ questions about an alleged gang rape involving its football team, is cohosting a so-called Festival of Journalism with the Union-Tribune. The San Diego paper failed to report the story until it was scooped by its big sister, the Los Angeles Times, in June.

“This is your chance to get to know people reporting on the biggest stories in San Diego,” says an irony-laden U-T house ad for the October 15 event, set to feature a panel called “Gang rape: an accusation, a football star, and 10 months of silence.”

Meanwhile, Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of the Times and U-T, drew blistering reviews from a large cadre of unnamed Times editorial workers in a lengthy September 18 Politico piece headlined “Tensions rise between the LA Times and its billionaire owner.” Per the story, “Times journalists continue to fear that the paper is stuck in a helpless middle ground: identifying as a national player but without the readership of its biggest competitors; eager to adapt to the digital era but uncertain about how best to do it; blessed with a billionaire benefactor but unclear on his vision.”

Sponsored
Sponsored
Platformed: Nika Soon-Shiong

The political activity of Nika Soon-Shiong, the publisher’s outspokenly liberal daughter, has been an unwelcome flashpoint for the paper, says the story. “After Nika Soon-Shiong received an appointment to serve as a West Hollywood Public Safety Commissioner — which advises city government on public safety reforms — Times journalists said she had, on at least two occasions, pitched them on the commission’s work and complained about headlines. One senior reporter at the Times said it’s hard to know ‘where Nika starts and the paper stops.’”

According to Politico: “Nika Soon-Shiong acknowledged that she does, in an advisory role for the paper, ‘advocate’ for her interests, specifically on criminal justice reform and poverty. ‘There are profound problems with the media’s coverage of safety issues,’ she said, ‘and these problems sometimes manifest themselves at the LA Times, just as they do at virtually every other major outlet.’” Adds the piece, “As Nika Soon-Shiong’s political activism grew, it became harder for the paper to chart out coverage that converged with her interests. Staffers grew alarmed when she clashed with an editor on the Metro desk earlier this year over the Times’ reporting on the LAPD. It was not lost on staff that they did not initially report on the public safety commission’s decision to reduce funding for the LA County Sheriff’s Department — a move she pushed for aggressively and one that was covered widely by other Los Angeles outlets.”

Perhaps more to the point of San Diego observers worried about his long-term staying power at the U-T, Politico describes Soon-Shiong’s focus as “fleeting” and “impulsive,” adding that despite his huge wealth, “several former staffers complained about the company’s antiquated publishing technology and the small engineering staff. The former executive said the search system is ‘still very janky’ and that the paper still doesn’t have control over its complete archives.”

Scott Peters wants to solve problems.

Scott’s unilluminated deal

Congress’s special interest money derby, which is especially busy this mid-term election year, has been joined by a San Diego player: Big Pharma’s friend and Congressman Scott Peters of La Jolla. The super-rich Democrat has set up a political action committee called the Supporting House Problem Solvers PAC.

So far in the 2022 cycle, according to the non-profit Open Secrets website, the fund has raked in $184,200 and distributed the same to 55 House Democratic candidates, as well as paying $7,150 for a fundraising bash at the posh Torrey Pines lodge. The Peters’ PAC donor list is studded with biotech players, including Alex Karnal, reported by Bloomberg on March 3 to be starting up a $3.5 billion hedge fund, one of the “biggest U.S. launches in years.” Named Braidwell, the firm “will make public and private health-care investments, with a focus on biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices and diagnostics, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Added the story, “As much as 20% of Braidwell’s fund will focus on investing in the equity and debt of early-to late-stage private companies as well as providing structured debt to public companies, the people said.” Karnal, listed by the PAC’s disclosure as “not employed,” kicked in $5000 on March 1. Other $5000 contributors included Apellis Pharmaceuticals Inc.

CEO Cedric Francois, of Louisville, Kentucky, on February 28, and Foresite Capital CEO Jim Tananbaum on the same date. Jeff Huber, reported to be in line for a super-bundle when Grail, a biotech outfit he cofounded, was sold to San Diego-based Illumina for $8 billion in 2020, was another $5000 giver to the Peters fund. But the Illumina-Grail deal was blocked on September 6 by European antitrust regulators, concerned that the high-tech combination would hurt competition and raise prices for cancer diagnostics. Illumina vowed to appeal, but its stock has since tanked.

— Matt Potter (@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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