Friday, June 4, 2021

Inky Publisher Goes Bonkers Over Systemic Racism

Flickr Commons/Kenny Maths
By Ralph Cipriano

The publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer has served official notice that both she and her newspaper have gone stark raving bonkers over the perceived plague of systemic racism.

In a Sunday column, publisher and CEO Elizabeth "Lisa" Hughes branded her own newspaper as racist for having published a headline last June 2nd that said, "Buildings Matter, Too."

As far as Hughes is concerned, it's a date that will live in infamy because that headline committed the "grievous and unpardonable offense" of offending Black Lives Matter.

Next, reprising Martin Luther's unhappy stint as a monk, Hughes divulged that after a full year of confession, multiple acts of contrition, as well as weekly self-flagellation sessions, she and her entire staff are still trying vainly to cleanse themselves of racism.

And according to Hughes, it's not only the Inquirer that's racist, but so is virtually every other institution in Philadelphia.

And Hughes wants to prove it. In a company-wide email sent out last month, Hughes announced an ambitious new project, "A More Perfect Union," financed by a $1.3 million grant from the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. 

That project will commission a team of journalists to not only root out systemic racism at the Inquirer, Hughes wrote, but also at every major institution founded in Philadelphia that "contributed to historical indifference and antagonism toward Black, brown, and other underserved communities."

It's an interesting new strategy on how to gain readership at the circulation-challenged Inquirer -- admit that your own newspaper is guilty of systemic racism, and then announce plans to indict every other institution in town for that sin as well. 

No matter how many cemeteries you have to dig up. 

But on the positive side, A More Perfect Union may help the Inquirer in their relentless pursuit of fellow progressive readers, who according to a recent poll by the nonpartisan group, More in Common, constitute barely eight percent of the electorate. 

Hughes began her column by offering yet another public apology over that "Buildings Matter, Too" infamous headline of last June 2nd that led to the resignation/firing of former Inquirer Editor and designated [white] fall guy/scapegoat Stan Wischnowski.

In case you missed it, Wischnowski signed off on that headline that ran over a column by architecture critic Inga Saffron that talked about preserving historic structures.

The last time I checked, buildings were inanimate objects. But somehow, in the safe space known in pre-pandemic times as the Inquirer newsroom, the words in that headline were deemed offensive to the shameless profiteering Marxists at BLM.

Hughes, a former publisher of the New Yorker, who, according to sources, still lives in New York City, did not respond to a request for comment. One of the questions I asked Hughes was to explain what exactly was so racist about that headline, but again, as I previously mentioned, Hughes isn't talking.

I also asked Hughes if living in New York was a problem for a Philadelphia publisher who, some people at the Inky will tell you is seriously out of touch, but again, Hughes isn't talking. 

Back to her column. After she confessed again that the "Buildings Matter, Too" headline was racist, Hughes began sobbing that not only were those hateful words printed in 72-point type, which she pronounced a "grievous and unpardonable offense." 

But that heinous headline, Hughes further lamented, was published during the uproar over the "vicious murder" in police custody of George Floyd, which, the publisher confessed, "amplified the outrage and brought us well-deserved scorn and scrutiny."

In her column, Hughes outlined the steps that the newspaper had taken to cleanse itself of sin, so that readers can hold the newspaper accountable on its way to her stated goal of becoming an "antiracist news organization."

According to Hughes, almost 80 staffers, or about a third of the newsroom, have convened in working groups every week since last June 2nd to conduct a "comprehensive process to examine nearly every facet of what we do."

This unprecedented exercise in group think among amazingly like-minded progressives at the Inky resulted in the following remedial acts of self-censorship:

-- The production of an "antiracism workflow guide" for the newsroom that according to Hughes, includes "specific questions that reporters and editors should ask themselves at various stages of producing our journalism."

-- Setting up a community news desk to address "long-standing shortcomings in how our journalism portrays Philadelphia communities, which have often been stigmatized by coverage that over-emphasizes crime."

-- The creation of an "internal forum for journalists to seek guidance on politically sensitive content and to ensure that antracism is central to the journalism."

-- Training staffers and managers on how to "recognize and avoid  culture bias."

-- Examining the paper's crime and criminal justice coverage with Free Press, a nonprofit focused on "racial justice in media." According to its website, this utopian group seeks "to change the media to transform democracy to realize a just society."

-- Setting yet more diversity goals for the staff in 2021 so it can hopefully become even more diverse, with "an emphasis on promotions, hiring and representation in leadership" at the openly racist Inquirer.

-- And finally, and most ominously, "establishing a formal process that will allow, upon petition and approval, for certain types of stories to be rendered harder to find in online searches," Hughes wrote. 

"This recognizes that our digital archives include countless stories focused on minor crimes and disproportionately affect people of color," she wrote.

I had a bunch of questions for Hughes about that last alleged reform that seemingly involves censorship of news about crime, for fear of stigmatizing "people of color."

I asked Hughes to explain this particular process that she's talking about that will render crime news harder to find in online searches, who this appeal process is open to, and who gets to decide what previously published stories get censored.

But again, Hughes, who's in the communication business, isn't talking.

I then pointed out to Hughes that Philadelphia is currently on a pace to set an all-time record for more than 650 murders this year. 

"So, as the bodies pile up, I have to ask, will the Inquirer continue to censor the news, and downplay the murder rate, to continue to protect fellow progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner?"

But Hughes isn't talking.

As somebody who worked at the Inqurier during the late 1980s and 1990s, I can tell you that the top editors at the Inquirer and Daily News didn't give a damn about assigning two full-time staffers to cover the antics of the local chapter of the mob when it was shooting up South Philly during a mob war.

Both of those staffers are friends of mine, and they competed to produce riveting stories that informed and entertained. But all those lurid stories about mob hits and local shoot-outs, some of which were written by me, upset many Italian-Americans, who complained that both papers were unfairly stereotyping their ethnic group. 

I remember a particular story I wrote with George Anastasia about an all-mobster softball team led by "Skinny Joey" Merlino, whose practices at a South Philly ball field were regularly monitored by the feds. That story stirred up so much trouble that one of our own editors, Arlene Nortoro Morgan, wrote a column in the Inquirer publicly denouncing both me and Anastasia for covering the news.

Can those angry Italian-Americans now petition the Inquirer to keep those old mob stories out of sight? Or is this process open to just "people of color?"

That's the question I asked Hughes. But again, she isn't talking.

Last month, however, Hughes and Inquirer Editor Gabriel Escobar, who lives in Wayne, boldly sent out a message to the staff announcing the formal launch of A More Perfect Union.

In her announcement, Hughes and Escobar described A More Perfect Union as a "year-long, multi-platform project that explores the racist origins, practices, and consequences of American institutions that were born in Philadelphia — as well as the path forward and push toward solutions."

"The series will begin with an examination of The Inquirer itself: This is essential, given our 192-year history in Philadelphia and our past year of racial and cultural reckoning," Hughes wrote.

Hughes then described what will happen when she dispatches her team of social justice warriors to root out systemic racism all over historic Philadelphia.

"We envision a series of chapters -- presented prominently and told in engaging and innovative ways across our digital, print and experiential channels -- that examine how the Inquirer and other Philadelphia institutions contributed to historic indifference and antagonism toward Black, brown, and other underserved communities, as well as what solutions exist for healing and equity."

Hughes added that it was high time for "the biggest institutions in American life -- from media organizations to the justice system -- to acknowledge  and start to redress the systemic racism that is baked into their culture, business models and traditions."

"Philadelphia is the birthplace of many of these power institutions: the first hospital, the first university, the first public libary, the department store, the first stock exchange, the first prison, the first U.S. government, and the list goes on," she wrote.

"Part of our mission is to hold powerful institutions accountable and that includes ourselves," she wrote. As far as Hughes was concerned, society was "at an inflection point" where it was time for "collectively recognizing and addressing racism and making a true commitment to long-term change."

Hughes' crusade was panned by several Inquirer alumni. 

"Well, Ms. Hughes, here’s another one-year-after fact: the homicide rate in Philadelphia is 33 percent higher than it was this time last year, meaning the city is on target to reach well over 500 homicides before year’s end," wrote Frank Wilson, the Inquirer's retired books editor on his blog under the headline, "Sanctimony Galore."

"That’s called news, which is supposed to be the business of a newspaper," Wilson wrote. "When I want a sermon, I go to church. Looking forward to your thoughts when The Inquirer folds."

Christine Flowers, another former columnist at both the Inquirer and Daily News, was another critic.

"I was fired by the Inquirer in large part because my opinions had become uncomfortable for a paper that had an agenda that was heading in a direction that did not consider conservative voices to have great value," she wrote in an email. 

"I was an opinion writer, and had absolutely no 'right' to have a place on their editorial and op-ed pages, so while disappointed I understood their decision," she wrote.

"However, learning that the paper has now decided to skew the presentation of actual news in order to avoid offending certain communities, and let's be honest here, communities of color since that has been specifically stated in their manifesto, is profoundly disturbing."

"News should never be changed, filtered, censored or edited so that its subjects are not offended and its readers are not troubled."

"Wow . . . Sure this will generate massive increase in readership and advertising," another Inky alum cracked.

“Anti-racism workflow guide?” WTF. No mention about great journalism, which used be their main product."

"Whatever it is that she thinks she's running, it's definitely not a newspaper," said another former Inquirer editor. 


As I wrote Hughes, in my opinion, she has left the news business far behind.

She's now the leader of an increasingly bizarre bunch of cultists whose radical ravings should best be ignored.


  1. Delta Force would put three holes in the front of Hughes' empty head totally devoid of brain matter

  2. Delta Force would put three holes in Hughes empty head totally devoid of brain matter

  3. Pravda strikes again.
    God help us all.

  4. We deserve comfortable work environments than to follow what Lisa Hughes plans to do by introdoctrinating her white workforce with a humiliating introspection of each white workers racism attitudes by black moderators much like what the Khmer Rouge did to intellectuals in Cambodia after taking over the country in 1975. The Khmer Rouge would subject each person to a hours long inquisition of their lives breaking down all their perceived sins and asking them how they planned to pay reparations before making them kneel with hands tied behind backs while an executioner applied sledgehammer to cave in the back of their heads.

    No accident Lisa Hughes was chosen for the job after confessing to her own sons!

    Inky will become a toxic place to work as wiser workers resign or retire.

  5. Hughes should investigate the decades of cover up of child sex abuse at the Curtis Institute, when it was led by Gerry Lenfest, who now funds the Inquirer. The Inquirer covered Lenfest's crimes with the kind of shallow, dismissive, gently chiding " ...could more have been dobe.. " type reporting, which it reserves for those it favors and protects. We know there are more victims of the Curtis.
    Hughes should investigate the rapes and sex abuse and cover up of the 2016 NJ Governor Campaign.
    Hughes should investigate decades of violent serial sexual and physical assaults at the Philadelphia Art Museum.
    Hughes should apologize on behalf of the Inquirer for failing to investigate and report massive fraud at the VisitPhilly Tourist bureau, under the direction of Inquirer favored Meryl Levitz. Jim Kenney, then in council, helped hide it all. Now,Kenney's Mayor! How's that for accountability?
    Hughes should investigate Jim Kenney's making almost $400k in side job money, his last year in Council, gleened from companies that do business with the city.
    She should apologize and investigate that.

    1. Different day, same pablum Albert.

    2. I learned it from reading the Inquirer,okay?!
      I learned it from reading the Inquirer.
      All victim's voices.
      Not just the ones that the Inquirer allows.

    3. The Inquirer is a lot like the Catholic Church during the middle ages. It tells you what to think,what information you can have,and it will silence all those who challenge it.

  6. The biggest question is why do they want to continue living, paying taxes, and supporting this evil awful country founded on "white supremacy"? One-way airfare to China, Haiti, India, Mexico, Senegal, etc as refugees should be all they want if what they say is actually true.

    1. They live here because they enjoy the vast priveleges and riches harvested from tax avoidance schemes and off shore accounts and also the immense wealth they make by proxy from slavery and concentration camp labor and enterprises in southeast Asia.The
      It's simple.
      Think LeBron James. Donald Trump. Larry Krasner. Joe and Jim and Hunter and Jill Biden. Jim Kenney. Josh Harris. The surviving Koch brother. Elon Musk. Jeff Epstein. Gerry Lenfest. Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton....many others.

  7. Please, would someone turn out the INKY lights at 8th and Market Sts? Krasner "playing" District Attorney; Hughes "playing" CEO and Publisher; Kenney "playing" Mayor. These Emperors and Empress really are wearing "no clothes" and collectively haven't a clue.

  8. Please, would someone turn out the INKY lights at 8th and Market Sts? Krasner "playing" District Attorney; Hughes "playing" CEO and Publisher; Kenney "playing" Mayor. These Emperors and Empress really are wearing "no clothes" and collectively haven't a clue.

  9. Michael Goodwin paints a dire picture of the Past, Present, and Future of Journalism in Yesterday's NY Post, as performed at the NY Slimes{sic}.

    The 1619 Project and The Times promotion of False and Revisionist History that they market to Public Schools stands as an Indictment of Modern Big City Newspapers and cheering on for their Bankruptcy and Demise may be the only Avenue to correct the poison they publish.

    This Inquirer Publisher never moved from NY because She is just another carpetbagging suck up who probably was shooting up in Washington Square Park with the rabble who have pitched their tents there and claim to Occupy it.

    What would Councilman Dpmb propose if Rittenhouse Square is taken over and His Multi Million Dollar Property Portfolio that he owns and markets were jeopardized?

    Let's see if Domb dodges Your calls and refuses to comment.

  10. Ralph, Please keep asking these important questions, even if the powers that be refuse to respond. William F. Buckley was once asked why Robert Kennedy refused to appear on Buckley's TV show "Firing Line." Buckley replied, "Why does baloney reject the meat grinder?"

  11. Is there anyone left at the Inquirer/Daily News? How many took the latest buyout? But the newspapers never report on this. But, what do they even report on anymore?


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