Still No News

Another day and still no verdict in Guardian v. Weekly tilt.

By Andy Van De Voorde

It was another uneventful day Tuesday in the Bay Guardian's predatory pricing lawsuit against the Weekly.

The jury wrapped up its third full day of deliberations at the courthouse on McAllister Street without rendering a verdict.

Though the panel has sent out notes in past days, nary a peep was heard on Tuesday, leading attorneys on both sides to speculate about the possible significance of the silent treatment.

Given that The Snitch flunked his high school classes in entrail-reading, your faithful correspondent declines to wager on the outcome, planning instead to save his cash for this weekend's race card at Bay Meadows.

But while the fate of the Guardian's lawsuit remains uncertain -- and in many respects it would be difficult for the paper to lose, given the remarkably low burden of proof required under California's Unfair Practices Act -- Bruce Brugmann's public image continues to take a hit.

Just check out the comments at the end of the Saturday story the San Francisco Chronicle ran about the case.

Many of them seem to support one of the Weekly's chief arguments: That if the Guardian's hurting, its predictable and sorely outdated editorial stance might just have something to do with it.

The Guardian has argued through the trial that the Weekly's low ad prices are the sole reason its own revenue and readership is slowly circling the drain.

It has never once accepted responsibility for its own actions; after all, if your hirsute founder made his money in the first place by blaming other publications for his misfortunes (as Brugmann did when he sued the local dailies back in the 1970s), why would there be a culture of accountability?

But as this blogger pointed out in yesterday's post, a paper that clings to Jimmy Carter-era conspiracy theories must sleep in its own badly written bed.

And judging from the random sampling of public opinion now appearing on the Chronicle Web site, The Snitch isn't the only one who's grown weary of the Guardian's tiresome bellowing about issues whose shelf life expired right around the time The Jeffersons went on the air.

Yes, the Guardian's still raving on about PG&E and the dailies, as was made clear by executive editor Tim Redmond's meek post last weekend attempting to put out a hit on your favorite "hit man."

Word to Puffy: Don't get your pony tail in a knot trying to defend the boorish behavior of your boss.

But it might be a good idea to read the comments at the end of the Chronicle story and give some thought to whether boring a city to death is truly the best editorial policy.

You can bore a jury and still get a verdict, especially if you have the benefit of a Depression-era law that on its face asserts that any "below-cost sales" on the part of the Weekly that took a single shred of business away from the Guardian must be presumed to reflect criminal intent on the part of the smaller, less profitable paper.

But bore readers and they have a funny way of turning on you.

And in the State of California, it's still legal to be a journalistic dullard.

The jury will resume its deliberations Wednesday morning at 8:30 at the courthouse on McAllister Street.


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