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The U-T San Diego publisher and CEO John Lynch were gunning hard to snap up the Boston Globe. They lost. But now we know just how spectacularly awkward their meetings were.
At long last, we have confirmation that meetings between U-T San Diego bosses “Papa” Doug Manchester and John Lynch and Boston Globe higher-ups were among the most awkward in media history.
Lynch & Co. found out in August their bid to buy the Globe from The New York Times Company had been rejected. Boston Red Sox owner John Henry came out on top for a cool $70 million. Lynch was vocal about his displeasure, suggesting there was some bad blood coast-to-coast.
“We bid significantly more than Henry,” said John Lynch, the CEO of U-T San Diego, one of the Globe finalists. “At the end of the day, I’m certain our bid was higher and could have been a lot more higher if they had just asked. I’m just stunned. I thought this was a public company that had a fiduciary duty to get the most by its stockholders. … From the beginning, I don’t think they wanted to sell to us.”
Now we have details of the meetings themselves from the Beantown side of the table. In case Lynch and Manchester are still holding the failed deal against Globe editor Brian McGrory and publisher Chris Mayer, the feeling appears to be mutual.
From a Boston Magazine story profiling Henry’s early days as Globe publisher:
Throughout the spring, groups of bidders met with top Globe brass, including McGrory and publisher Chris Mayer. The San Diegans, led by a real estate developer and U-T co-owner who refers to himself as “Papa Doug” Manchester, particularly scared Globe newsroom staffers. “There were some potential bidders who would have come in here and in the first weeks, if not days, looked to cut this place by anywhere from 10 to 30 percent,” McGrory says. “And we would have faced widespread layoffs, enormously diminished ambition, and, as a result, probably higher profits, temporarily.”
“Do you have any idea what it was like to sit in a conference room at a downtown hotel, day after day, eating God-awful catered food,” he continues, “sitting there with people who you know just wanted to cut the living bejesus out of the place that you love the second they got their hands on us? And you had to be polite, you had to be informative, and these meetings stretched on forever, five, six hours at a time—most of the time I got so bored I just had to leave.” During the U-T San Diego presentation, people who were in the room attest, Manchester at one point instructed McGrory to call him “Papa Doug.” McGrory did not call him Papa Doug.