In news shocking everyone, tronc chairman Michael Ferro resigned Monday morning and ceded control of the company to CEO Justin Dearborn. But later in the day, Fortune published an expose of Ferro – with two women accusing him of sexual harassment.
The moves comes as tronc sold two of its holdings in the last few weeks: both the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune to investor Patrick Soon-Shiong for $500 million. Ferro’s resignation also comes on the heels of journalistic layoffs at the tronc-owned Chicago Tribune on Friday – while tronc executives Dearborn and CFO Terry Jimenez gave themselves raises, and awarding a $15 million contract to Merrick Ventures, a firm owned by… you guessed it, Michael Ferro.
In addition, Ferro continues to receive a $5 million consulting fee.
But the biggest bombshell out of all this is the sexual harassment allegations Ferro is accused of while he was CEO of Wrapports, the former owner of the Sun-Times. Two women came forward and told Fortune of unwanted advances, including kissing and groping. Ferro is now the latest public figure to be accused of sexual harassment in the “#MeToo” era, launched on social media after many female staffers accused Harvey Weinstein of harassing numerous female employees.
In one instance, Ferro is accused of groping a woman who was nine weeks pregnant.
According to the Fortune piece, Ferro is also accused of making sexual comments about women while at the Sun-Times. Of note is while at the Sun-Times, Ferro gave a columnist position to Jenny McCarthy in 2012, despite her lack of journalistic experience.
Shortly after Ferro bought the Sun-Times through Wrapports, the Sun-Times ran a front-page cover of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian instead of more pressing matters, prompting yours truly to call the publication “a disgrace” for the second time in five years – a reminder of an earlier era when the Sun-Times was run by similar buffoons.
Ferro wanted the Sun-Times to be “The New York Post Of The Midwest”.
Less than two years ago, he took over Tribune Publishing and renamed it the much-maligned “tronc”. During his tenure, the paper was run no better during the Zell/Michaels era. This is what “content” the company was peddling a while back, about as juvenile as it gets. Certainly, using inner-city areas of Chicago and L.A. as props for jokes tell us how “dignified” these papers were under Ferro.
With a few Mystery Science Theater 3000 references, yours truly said about Ferro after the Kanye West/Kim Kardishan cover:
“The mission is simple: Ferro acts like an evil scientist and in his bid for world domination (or at least become the region’s biggest media baron), he is experimenting to see how much celebrity fluff and irrelevant news items he can stuff into the newspaper, so he can turn readers into mindless zombies. His plan is to dumb down Chicagoans (which is incredibly easy to do), so they can only care about who Jennifer Lopez is seeing this week and which cast member of “Gossip Girl” they would like to sleep with while corrupt politicians continue to fleece our pockets and the quality of life in Chicago continues to decline. Ferro is kind of like Dr. Clayton Forrester from Mystery Science Theater 3000 – but with even less brains. It seems Sun-Times readers are trapped on the Satellite of Love and forced to watch bad B-movies every day- something the paper is rivaling in the quality department. This Ferro idiot needs to board the Enterprise and go back to his home planet.”
After five years, Ferro is being sent back to where he came from, hopefully never to return. But not before some hard questions needs to be asked first about how he treated women. And judging by the Fortune article, his “home planet” should be a jail cell.