Scheer was particularly "pissed off" that Diaz told him that "nobody was reading the columns" (Diaz denies he said this). If no one is reading, how come Scheer recently received a cavalcade of Web comments and e-mails following an excoriation of Israel's tactics in Gaza? (Scheer put it thusly: "How the fuck can they say no one is reading the column? It got 565 comments and 80 e-mails through the Chronicle!").
In fact, Scheer wonders if too many people were reading the columns. In two of his last Chron pieces he not only castigated the Jewish state but refered to powerful banks as "robber barons" and "bandits." Many of the readers who e-mailed him about the columns predicted he'd lose his job. He thought that was a stretch -- but now he's not so sure. One thing he's certain of -- this is not a money issue. Scheer estimates it cost the Chron $20 or $30 a week to run his syndicated column (which it will ostensibly continue doing online, though not in print). Diaz denied Scheer's recent columns triggered his departure, but quickly noted, "I'm not going to engage in any public argument with Bob over this. He's welcome to characterize things as he wants." Don't worry -- he will.
Scheer said he and Diaz have always gotten along -- they've even tailgated together before Oakland Raiders games. But the journalist accuses his editor of carrying someone else's water.
"The media never covers itself. Outside the building [journalists] will even confront dictators, but inside the building they're little church mice. They're very worried about keeping their jobs. I can't believe [Diaz] suddenly decided he didn't want to keep the column. He always told me he liked it," Scheer said. The Chron "is a big institution -- like an insurance company. Like a bank. The whole notion of a brave, free press -- it's exceptional. Most people play a bureaucratic role in the company. ... I'll debate my columns. I think they hold up pretty damn well."
Photo by Zuade Kaufman