Conrad Black will be hammered for “obstruction of justice”–hauling some boxes away from his office in Toronto. David Radler will be rewarded for greasing the wheels of justice–pleading guilty to fraud and testifying against Black. But as for the injustice itself–selling off the media properties of Hollinger International, which they ran together, and profiting handsomely from noncompete payments they set up–it’s pretty inarguable that if Black was guilty Radler was guiltier. Radler was the inside man, the guy at corporate headquarters in Chicago who regularly dealt with and apparently constantly bamboozled the cop on the beat, James Thompson, chairman of the board’s audit committee.
So while Black faces up to 35 years in an American prison, Radler’s looking at a maximum of 29 months of minimum security in British Columbia, perhaps at the place columnist Mark Steyn, a Black champion, likes to call a “golf therapy farm.” Now the Canadian media seem to be awakening to the fact that Radler’s coup might be even niftier than anyone thought. I just had to turn down an invitation from a Canadian TV network that was putting together a discussion Thursday night of a story in last Saturday’s National Post (which Black, by the way, founded). The headline: “Radler quietly building local media empire.”
The Post said Radler “has been quietly amassing a burgeoning community newspaper empire with his daughter.” That’s Melanie Radler, who for a while worked at Winston & Strawn when Thompson was chairman there. Last January I reported the deal that had Melanie Radler buying up a string of small Rhode Island papers. There’s more. The Post reminds us that Radler still controls Horizon Publications, which owns a string of small newspapers in the U.S. and Canada, and he has a large interest in the Alta Newspaper Group, which owns papers in Alberta. The next couple years might not be easy for Radler–he said on the stand he doesn’t play golf–but he can tell himself that once they’re over he’ll get to have the fabulous solo career he always deserved.