Off Beat: Terms not disclosed
The days of railing against "taxpayer-supported schools" are over. And so, it appears, are the days of Freedom Newspapers, later known as Freedom Communications.
The final shoe dropped last Monday with announcement of the sale of the final chunk of the media empire cobbled together by Raymond Cyrus Hoiles.
Fittingly, there was no government bailout for Freedom. Banks, repositories of dollars, got the government largesse. Newspapers, repositories of ideas, were left to fend for themselves.
There was no Newspaper Preservation Act this time around to save "failing" newspapers.
It was sink or swim. A devil's brew of family feuding, an economic collapse and the quickening shift of reading habits from print to digital proved too powerful for Freedom to overcome.
As for Hoiles, who died in 1970, his newspapers were the Santa Ana Register (now Orange County Register) and everything else, including this one.
Back in the early part of the 20th century, Hoiles could see the future in mostly small markets, where his newspapers could grow along with the population of readers, most of whom went through those "taxpayer-supported schools."
The newspapers' guiding philosophy was a simple one: Libertarianism. He was a tea party guy before there was the tea party.
Five years ago, long after Hoiles' death, he was still being extolled, in a way, on the Reason.com website, where Libertarian ideas live on.
"Hoiles was an extraordinary American. He was a successful businessman who steadily and knowingly aggravated huge swaths of his audience with his uncompromising expression of often-despised beliefs," Reason writer Brian Doherty observed.
"Hoiles became a multimillionaire through his own efforts, but he still dressed in tattered off-the-rack suits and carried a worn briefcase and would debate face-to-face with people picketing his company. Appearances and his own reputation mattered less to him than did the ideas of freedom he thought were vital to his nation."
Hoiles was always something of a mystery to reporters who came through the hallowed doors of the Appeal-Democrat. Libertarian philosophy was equally opaque.
The editorial page was where the Libertarian ideal lived. It never got far in the news pages, although a few subjects of stories in Freedom's newspapers might have thought otherwise.
Just how far Hoiles' strand of Libertarianism got is open to question. The political duoply remains strong in this country. Libertarians are viewed as a fringe party.
As for Freedom Communications, it will be officially gone in a few weeks.