Skinny OR, FOR A MERE $10 MILLION, DON, YOU CAN BUY THIS ANNOYING PUBLICATION AND FIRE OUR JUVENILE ASSES: We've been hearing rumors around town that legendary land speculator Don Diamond--a guy who's probably worth half a billion bucks, and who undoubtedly still has the first dollar he ever made, plus the change--has attempted several times recently to buy that journalistic bastion of morning mediocrity, The Arizona Daily Suckwad.

Yes, this is a bizarre rumor--because, really now, it's not like the Star has given Diamond any sort of genuine scrutiny over the 40-plus years he's been the de facto czar of our community's blade-'n'-grade Growth Lobby, not to mention the alpha male of local political monkeyshines. No, you'd think a guy as rich and powerful as Diamond would view the Star merely as an annoyingly inferior handywipe, suitable for use only when he's out of C-notes and still has to clean those pesky pygmy owl stains off the grill of his top-o'-the-line Mercedes.

And yet they're amusing, these whispered anecdotes--that Diamond approached the Pulitzer organization in St. Louis, which refused to sell; and that he then supposedly found a couple of Mexican businessmen to front a second effort; and that Pulitzer won't sell because the Star is a huge, three-legged cash cow, those legs being ad revenues from real estate, car dealers and grocery and department stores. OK, four legs--have it your way.

Of course, that massive revenue stuff isn't a rumor. It's obvious. But the wagging tongues add that Diamond, in his supposed weird lust to control our hearts and minds, has now hit upon a scheme to siphon real-estate advertising from the Star with a soon-to-be launched publication of his own brilliant design. And after that will come yet another great new publication designed to lure car dealers' dollars...And pretty soon Pulitzer will be begging him to buy the morning moo.


MEANWHILE, LOOK WHO'S CUTTING THE BUSINESS CHEESE: We cackle with cynical glee when we imagine what a Don Diamond newspaper might be like. Actually, we don't even have to imagine it--there's already a prototype. It's called Inside Tucson Business, and wow, does this puppy blow.

Well, to be fair, some of the reporting is OK--more than occasionally better than the rewritten press-release pap generally passing for local business coverage in the Star. But the really stinky cheese in this little ("little" in the moral sense) publication is the stuff by Inside editor, publisher and chief plagiarist "Odd" Rod Smith. It's easily Tucson's most over-the-top geek show in print.

For example, just last week in his hilariously wretched "Scuttlebutt" column (hmm, wonder what that's modeled after), Smith, apparently without an ounce of shame, stuck his journalistic proboscis breathtakingly far up the local power structure's butt when he wrote (and we're not making this up):

"Nobody asked me, but could any governor have a better team running her southern Arizona campaign than Jim Click, Don Diamond, [and] John Munger...?"

(No, Rod, no Republican governor could. And golly, aren't these incredibly rich and influential guys just, well, so incredibly rich and influential? Apparently so much so that they can get a verbal blowjob from you any time they want. And thanks, Rod, for using the words "soiree" and "fete" in that same item, and pointing out that the Governor's $250-a-plate dinner here was "deemed a huge success"--we'd almost forgotten what a joy it is to read the work of a towering master of hackneyed, ass-kissing prose such as yourself.)

In the same column, Odd Rod also notes that bazillionaire banker/car dealer Click went to see Wag the Dog, and then adds, "...we hope he understands it is a little unrealistic to believe an incumbent's outside advisers would 'fake' a war and a POW incident just to win an election." Yeah, Rod, although Jimbo's an incredibly successful businessman, he's got that hick accent, so he's probably too stupid to comprehend a broadly-drawn satire.

Then, having artfully mentored an apparently moronic Clickster on the nature of politics today, Rod lurches back into his Rudolph the shit-nosed hack persona with another short item praising Jack Jewett, the brother of the very guy, Steve Jewett, who elevated Rod to the lofty position of editor and publisher. Steve Jewett is Inside Tucson Business' former publisher, and he and his brother are sons of the founder and original owner of Territorial Newspapers--a fact that Rod fails to disclose, although he's been harping about our lack journalistic integrity in his recent columns.

(Like we give a rat's ass, Rod, about upholding some all-but-meaningless academic bullshit standard in a town where two daily newspapers and three TV news operations are spewing the same bland, supposedly "balanced" coverage without ever clearly informing people about who rules and what's really going on--not to mention your editorial whoring for any greedy, desert-raping cretin with a bulldozer.)

But, hey, at least Rod also lets us know--in yet another item in the same awe-inspiring column--that "developer maestro" Diamond is an "avid sports fisherman" who "already owns a couple of yachts." Yes, and here's hoping Diamond will invite Rod to tag along one of these days. That should make it much easier for the obsequious Oddboy to fishwrap the Don's big, smelly Orange Roughie with copies of Inside Tucson Business.

SAY, HOW CAN YOUNG, ASPIRING JOURNALISTS ACHIEVE THE HIGH LEVEL OF PROFESSIONALISM ROD SMITH BRINGS TO THE IMPORTANT BUSINESS OF ASS-LICKING THE RICH AND POWERFUL? Inside Tucson Business Editor and Publisher Rod Smith, a relative newcomer to Tucson, has apparently made it his life's work to communicate on behalf of the wealthy and influential.

A quick check of his rather dismal career path reveals a sordid propensity for blurring the lines between "business journalism" and the sleazy world of politically oriented, hardball public relations.

In our research, Smith first surfaces as a propagandist for the 1986 gubernatorial campaign of then-Hawaiian Congressman Cecil Heftel. Although he began the campaign with a big lead in the polls, Heftel's campaign went down in flaming defeat.

Smith landed at Pacific Business News, a blindly pro-business Honolulu publication much like his current gig. Colleagues there described him as friendly, courteous and--owing to a fondness for silk shirts--''dapper."

In 1994, he became the managing director of public affairs for Hill & Knowlton Hawaii, Inc. In the long history of American sleaze, Hill & Knowlton plays a leading role. For decades, this infamous international public relations firm shamelessly flacked for big tobacco interests. So prominent has been its role in promoting nicotine addiction that it has been named as a co-defendant in some of the massive state lawsuits filed against the tobacco industry.

Also, H&K was implicated in a successful effort to propagandize Congress and the American news media. In August 1990, before America entered the Gulf War, the firm engineered the tearful testimony of a young Kuwaiti woman. She told a congressional human rights caucus that Iraqi soldiers removed premature Kuwaiti infants from hospital incubators. After the war, it was discovered that H&K had not informed Congress that the woman was the daughter of Kuwait's ambassador to the U.S. It was also later reported that the alleged atrocity, at least partially responsible for persuading Americans to go to war, never happened. Although H&K officials will not disclose what, precisely, Smith did while working at the firm, his title indicates he was a flack for the Honolulu branch office--a flack for the flacks, if you will.

After H&K, Smith landed the job of information director of the State of Hawaii's Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBED&T). But we're told he resigned after nine months, in December 1994, to work as a public relations hack for Hawaiian pol Mufi Hannemann, then head of DBED&T, who was running for a spot on the Honolulu City Council. Political observers describe Hannemann as "the Will Rogers of development--he never met a developer he didn't like."

The fact that Smith has moved with apparent ease from the world of politics to journalism (albeit "business reporting") to public relations to government may rise ethical eyebrows outside of Hawaii. However, the Aloha State is ground zero for the renaissance of conflicts of interest. During the monopolistic Big Five territorial days, Hawaii was notorious for its "inter-locking directorates," wherein members of the missionary families cross-pollinated the boards of directors of most major island companies. Today, many so-called "journalists" move regularly from news outlets to higher-paying public relations positions with corporate, government, and charitable entities in Hawaii.

We're told currying favor with the elite is a popular pastime for some of the island state's alleged reporters, which could account for the high percentage of fluff pieces in publications like the Pacific Business News, and the dearth of investigative reporting in Hawaiian publications. Sounds a lot like someplace we know, doesn't it?

But it's a career trajectory that has taken Smith from politics to journalism to public relations to government, and from Honolulu to Tucson. In both cities he's been an outsider who allies himself with pro-business interests in the public and private sectors by plying his stock-in-trade: communicating for and in the interests of the ruling class.

In short, he's a sterling example of what local journalism today is all about. TW

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