Who is the media elite? Continued…

By Mick Gregory

Walter H. Shorenstein the SF Real Estate Baron worth a billion, is also the money behind Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy.

If today’s political donors have taken the place of yesterday’s corrupt ward bosses, Walter Shorenstein can easily call all of San Francisco his home turf. The Democrat machine hardly hosts an event, plans a party, or schedules a speech in the City by the Bay without consulting Mr. Shorenstein. And when he speaks, high-ranking Democrats tend to kneel and listen.

During the ill faited Gore campaign, Shorenstein was reportedly bemoaning the lack of attention Al Gore had paid towards the Bay Area, where the vice president was heavily favored to win.

“They have no problem picking up the phone and asking for 25 thousand more dollars,” a source close to Shorenstein told the San Francisco Chronicle, “but they won’t answer the phone when asked to come out here and energize the troops.” Shorenstein’s call evidently got through: Within a week, President Clinton had added a rally in San Francisco to his schedule.

At the rally, Clinton did little to hide his affection for the real estate tycoon who has given millions of dollars to Democrats in the 1990s and 2000s. “I want to thank Walter Shorenstein for having the guts to stand up here and say that he didn’t need a tax cut; he wanted you to have it. I love him,” the president said.

A mogul in every meaning of the word, in his late 80s whose net worth has been set at $900 million by Forbes. In 1960, he founded the Shorenstein Company, which quickly became the largest owner and operator of commercial real estate in San Francisco. By one estimate, the firm now controls 25 percent of the city’s downtown, which has seen rental prices skyrocket in the last five years.

I remember paying $20 for the first 20 minutes of parking while Christmas shopping in San Francisco. I asked an attendent who owned the lot, he said “Mr. Shorenstein, of course.” I said tell him Merry Christmas for me.

Day-to-day operation of the company is now overseen by Shorenstein’s son, Douglas. In memory of his late daughter, Shorenstein founded the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. You often see “objective” polls and comments from the non-profit, especially around election time.

Though most of his political giving is on the national scene and 98 percent to Democrats, Shorenstein’s political muscle extends to SF city government as well. In 1998, the SF Weekly found that Shorenstein was a leading sponsor of a reelection bid by city Tax Assessor Doris Ward, who had allowed big property owners to continue to benefit from tax breaks issued during the recession in 1990. With real estate prices booming, owners were pocketing an estimated $100 million a year in tax revenues because of Ward’s policies.

Another Journo retires…
In his final column, which was killed by editors at the San Diego Union-Tribune, Preston Turegano had brought up that his high school yearbook/newspaper adviser predicted he’d never make a good reporter because he was “so rude.”

He wrote: “Sorry, Mrs. Abbott, but chutzpah came in handy during my career as a U.S. Navy journalist and later a reporter for the Evening Tribune (which became the San Diego Tribune) that merged with The San Diego Union in 1992.”

I think his high school adviser was pretty accurate about his cocky rudeness. But Mrs. Abbott didn’t know that those are the “skills” his fellow journalists were looking for.

41 thoughts on “Who is the media elite? Continued…

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    remarks at tonight’s 3/28/07 Media/Corrsndt.
    dinner an acknowledgement to her “Boss”
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    a constituent from S.F….So sad that are
    freedom’s are endangered from this band of
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    generation sacrificed so much to bring them
    opportunity. Now, those guilt ridden are
    trying to sacrifice our liberty….

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