So many of us have been waiting for this day, and fighting for it, that we may be forgiven for thinking that Tom’s departure brings our problems to an end. It does not. It will be some time before we can undo the damage he wrought: To our finances, to our reputation, to our business relationships, to our morale, to the quality of our editorial product …. What we can say is that, with Tom gone, we can begin to address our problems in a rational and purposeful way.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Who Is Tom Rose?
Republican committeepersons in the 7th District will meet on Sunday at the State Fairgrounds to pick a candidate to run in the March 11 special election and the May primary election to succeed the late Rep. Julia Carson. While there has been a very public discussion of the crowded field of eight candidates on the Democratic side vying for their party's nod at tomorrow's Democratic caucus, the Republican race has been cloaked in secrecy. Neither the state nor county GOP has published any information on their websites about Sunday's caucus or the candidates vying for the nomination, let alone any public endorsements of the candidates. As we gather from Dan McFeely's report in today's Star, there are four Republicans competing for the nomination, only two of which are serious contenders. They are State Rep. Jon Elrod, the first candidate of either party to announce his candidacy for the 7th District seat and Tom Rose. As I've written extensively about Elrod in the past, this post is written to provide readers more information about the lesser-known Tom Rose, who today's Star describes as a "radio talk show host."
Rose, an Indianapolis native, is a 1980 graduate of Brandeis University and earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in 1985. Rose began his career in radio and television journalism and later served as a special assistant to former Mayor Stephen Goldsmith from 1992 to 1997. Rose took time out during the first Gulf War to volunteer for service in the Israel Defense Forces. Rose is best known for the job he later took as publisher and CEO of the Jerusalem Post from 1998 to 2004. Tom and his wife Rachel lived in Israel with their three children while he he ran the Jerusalem Post. Rose is a founder of Jerusalem-based Liberty Capital Partners, a private equity firm. After leaving the Jerusalem Post, Rose and his family returned to Indianapolis. Rose now co-hosts "The Bauer and Rose Show", a conservative radio talk show. He is also a frequent guest and sometimes guest host on WIBC's "Garrison" talk radio show and is a contributor to The Weekly Standard.
Rose had a very rocky tenure at the Jerusalem Post. While he boasts of his accomplishments there, many newspaper employees complained about his management style. Rose claims the newspaper was the world’s first newspaper to start its own all-news English language internet radio station; the first Israel paper to offer a Palm edition; email news alerts and SMS headlines and the first Israeli paper to offer same day home delivery in the New York area. According to one account, Rose had a bright yellow sign posted on his wall at the Post, which screamed "Tom Rose Go Home," a joking reference to what employees there thought of him. The newspaper was acquired by Hollinger International, the Canadian newspaper conglomerate, in 1989. Rose was criticized for shifting the newspaper's editorial comment further to the right. Sweeping cuts in jobs at the newspaper made him particularly unpopular among the newspaper's staff.
On November 17, 2003, Hollinger International announced plans to sell the Post after the company's CEO, Conrad Black, was forced to step down in the face of accusations he had paid improper fees to himself and other senior executives. In 2004, Hollinger fired Rose. In 2005, Rose filed a $2 million lawsuit in New York against Bret Stephens, a former Post editor in chief who later joined the Wall Street Journal's editorial board, claiming Stephens orchestrated his firing and defamed him in the process. Rose also sued Hollinger and the Chicago Sun-Times for unpaid severance benefit. At the center of the lawsuit is this e-mail message Stephens circulated about Rose days after his firing:
Rose claimed Stephens' assertions in the e-mail were false. According to the New York Observer, former staffers at the Post described Rose as exhibiting an "abusive and erratic management style in his campaign to slash the Post’s costs." Those decisions he made left the newspaper in a "perilous financial state" according to the Observer. Hirsh Goodman, a former executive at the Post, told the Observer that Rose was "an impossible person to work with." Goodman related one particular incident with Rose after he traveled to London to meet with Black to discuss problems with Rose's management style. When he returned to Jerusalem, Goodman said Rose told him, "The next time you go behind my back, I’ll tear your tongue out of your head!” Rose denied Goodman's account according to the Observer.
Laying aside Rose's management style, his political views are staunchly conservative. His pro-Israeli views sometimes collide with even the supportive Bush administration. On social issues, he takes a hard line on hot button social issues like abortion and gay marriage according to an interview he gave with Greg Garrison this week. In campaign literature he mailed to committeepersons, Rose says under the heading "God and Public Life" that he: wants to "restore the principle of freedom of religion, not freedom from religion; "protect public displays of faith . . . threatened by a vocal majority; and "end the secular assault on God . . . that threatens our entire system of government." That contrasts with his more socially-moderate opponent, Jon Elrod, who opposes legislative attempts to enact a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriages, supports equal rights in employment for gays and lesbians and supports hate crimes legislation, all of which are anethema to the religious right Rose is clearly wooing. Elrod is equally as conservative on fiscal matters, however. He supports efforts to streamline government through consolidation, cut spending and repeal Indiana's unfair property tax.
Rose's candidacy would represent a first. If he becomes the next U.S. Representative of the 7th District, he will become Indiana's first Jewish member of Congress. Interestingly, a leading Democratic candidate, State Rep. David Orentlicher is also Jewish. If both are successful in winning their respective nominations, the 7th District will be assured of sending its first Jewish representative to Congress. The 7th District race could become even more fascinating if Rose is chosen to face off against City-County Councilor Andre Carson in the March 11 special election. I believe Carson would become the first practicing Muslim to be elected to Congress from Indiana, and he would become only the second Muslim member of the current U.S. House of Representatives. According to an interview Carson gave to fellow blogger Ruth Holladay, he is "an Orthodox, universal, secular Muslim" who "frequently attends" services at Nur-Allah Islamic Center. Radio talk show host Abdul Hakim-Shabazz joked earlier today about a possible face-off between Rose and Carson. "By the way, the most fun match up would be Tom Rose and Andre Carson, because I can’t wait to see what happens when Rose loses it and calls Carson (who is a Muslim) an “Islamofacist” during a debate and all hell breaks loose," Shabazz quipped.
So it looks like this year's 7th District race could become a first for several things. The parties' respective caucuses this weekend should determine just how many firsts there are. Stay tuned. It's going to be interesting.