Aaron Kushner, Weenie OC Register Owner, Gets Mad at Reporter for Exposing Him as Unethical Weenie

Thumbnail image for Stuart_Smalley.jpg
"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it: let me sell out my paper's soul!"
Whenever people ask me how I feel about Orange County Register owner Aaron Kushner, I always bring up Edward G. Robinson's immortal role as an insurance agent in the Billy Wilder classic, Double Indemnity. Yeah, he's spending all this money to fatten the paper and hire more reporters. Yeah, more journalism jobs is more better. Yeah, he's expanded his community rags to be...um, fatter community rags. But my little man tells me something is off with Kushner. And my little man is always right.

Kushner, of course, has already made headlines for believing newspapers should be Stuart Smalleys--but bona fide hacks? That's what the Voice of OC has exposed in a series of articles detailing how the Register promised "media coverage" to the city of Anaheim if Mouse Town allowed them to sell off the naming rights for the coming albatross that is the ARTIC high-speed train station. Kushner's reaction? He denied it, of course, then snapped at Voice reporter Adam Elmahrek for digging up a public document contradicting Kushner's lies, claiming the reporter was "breaching" its confidentiality.

Um, excuse us?

You can find the full exchange here, but the money quote is Kushner whining to Elmahrek, "I'm guessing it says strictly confidential and for internal use only. You're breaching that."

WOW. Imagine a Register reporter finding the Pentagon Papers and telling Kushner about it. "You're breaching that." Imagine a reporter finding documents showing that the Diocese of Orange protected pedophiles. "You're breaching that."

To our friends at the Reg who have to work under this weenie: we feel for you. The worst we've ever had to deal with our owners was not keeping up with the Manhattans one night in San Francisco...

Email: garellano@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @gustavoarellano.

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Eric Spitz wrote an article (first published by WSJ) on why he and his partner bought the paper and why other business men are buying papers. He rambled on with this lovely feel-food warm fuzzy diatribe on the public good, which would have been great if we didn't know how badly he sold his readers downriver already. Ironically, the Comments function was disabled on that article! When they first pumped up the paper I cheered them on, I believe we MUST find a way to combine the efforts to inform the public with actual paychecks for doing it (cuz some of us morons are doing it for free) so in a vote of support I prepaid my subscription in advance-by a full year! Ranks up there with supporting Murray for Council as one of my less brilliant investments. It is one thing to offer the puff piece to your advertisers, that has been happening since the beginning of time. But the Register seems to be deliberately burying stories of cronyism and potential corruption in Anaheim, in an effort to suck up to their wanna be landlords, and that is just plain evil! 

Chris J Caroselli
Chris J Caroselli

The same OC Register that charges people to read their website? Call me delusional, but I dont think they're going to be around much longer, and when they go out of business I'm buying you all a beer.

Eric Longabardi
Eric Longabardi

FYI - everybody these days gets mad at any reporter doing "real journalism" ... it's just not done very often anymore. So can you blame them? Kushner is not a journalist, he's a businessman. He owns the paper. He can put whatever he wants in it. But I agree with you, if what he puts in it is not journalism (the ethical credible kind) his business model should be called out for selling the public a fraudulent product. Don't hold your breath on that happening very often at the Register or the OC Weekly or anywhere else. These are businesses and most of the them (in print for sure) are failing terribly as such. That's the bottom-line when it comes to the media these days. When an OC Register reporter writes a similar story, you'll also see Stuart Smalley announcing on CNN that he is really not gay and he's been married to an female ex-porn star from the Valley for 30 years and is launching a new self-help cable TV show in Nome, Alaska sponsored by an air conditioning company!

JBinOC topcommenter

It's actually sad that Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz are vaporizing what little equity (mostly fueled by oldtimers, and those who like the sports content) the OC Register brand has.  

After some thought following my first post ("Innocent question here..."), it hit me that the Register actually does have expertise selling marketing deals -- it's already chopping up its newspaper into aggressively-sold sponsored sections.  Yo...Cal State Fullerton...Chapman?  Want to sponsor a weekly section where you control all the editorial content about your just-fabulous institutions?  Let's do lunch at Taqueria de Anda. 

I've finally realized why Nancy Luna kept her job...Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz noticed she re-writes press releases, and they said, "Wow!  You've got a future here!" 

Jarrod Kappe
Jarrod Kappe

Wait, so OC Weekly is considered "real" journalism? lol...what a joke.

JBinOC topcommenter

*[cue Nancy Luna voice]:

My take:

The Orange County Register's news coverage, which is already weak and lame when they're actually trying to be good, is going to be hopelessly laughable and irrelevant for years to come. 

JBinOC topcommenter

Innocent question here...why does the city of Anaheim need a "broker" if it actually wants to pursue the idea of selling naming rights for the ARTIC hub?  

Yes, I know, I can hire someone to scrub my bathtub, and there's benefits to that, but I'm also very capable of doing it myself.  A municipality like Anaheim, even if it is budget-challenged and thin in personnel, can't find the time to solicit and analyze naming rights offers?  

And yeah, a "broker" might be able to procure maximum offers, using its presumed expertise...but really, if a broker did 10% or 20% better, what big difference is that going to make when we're talking about small-ish dollar amounts?  And isn't the extra cash just going toward go to the broker's commission?  

But my real question is...what expertise does a "media company" like Freedom Communications have to be such a broker?  Or at least to do it better than that of the law firms, etc. that specialize in these things? 

RocketJ topcommenter

@Chris J Caroselli Paywalling themselves off was the best thing the current OC Register has done. Hopefully it hastens their eventual demise.


@JBinOC Amen! Anaheim has been selling off our own properties for little to no community benefit for DECADES, indeed giving away our own enterprise businesses to special interests is an Anaheim tradition! We do not need Spitz and Kuchner to do what our Council is only to happy to provide given the opportunity. Don't believe? Methinks they are about to suck the little value we do gain from Angels' Stadium right out of the deal and into the pockets of Arte Moreno. 

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