The Omaha World-Herald is the largest newspaper company in the state of Nebraska. Its newspaper dominates the readership of Nebraska and parts of Iowa, giving it an important role in shaping public opinion. The World-Herald Company also owns other subsidiaries, both media companies and those unrelated to the media. From 1987 until 2011, the World-Herald owned a significant stake in Election Systems & Software (ES&S), the largest voting system vendor in the US. This stake was sold in 2011 to the McCarthy Group, an Omaha investment company that held the other major share of ES&S and was owned by the World-Herald at one point (if it still isn't). Even today, former publisher John Gottschalk is on the board of both the McCarthy Group and ES&S.
As it turns out, the Omaha World-Herald is not without controversy. Both liberals and conservatives alike have dubbed it "Pravda of the Plains", accusing it of representing elite interests. This tendency is exemplified by longtime publisher Harold Andersen (1966-1989), an insider with links to the Omaha business community, politicians like George H.W. Bush, and the Council on Foreign Relations. Even more disturbingly, the World-Herald was involved with the Franklin scandal, an interstate elite pedophile ring in Omaha. Andersen and other World-Herald employees were implicated as child molesters, and as Franklin unfolded, the newspaper vehemently attacked the allegations, smeared the victimized children as liars, and called for them to be prosecuted for perjury (which happened). Their involvement in the Franklin scandal, which included CIA blackmail, suggests that the World-Herald leadership might be compromised and controlled as part of Operation Mockingbird.
- World Companies
Board of directors
- Chairman: ..., Harold Andersen (1986-1989), John Gottschalk (1989-????), ...
- President: ..., Harold Andersen (1966-1986), John Gottschalk (1986-1989), ...
- Vice president: ..., John Gottschalk (1980-1986), ...
- CEO: ..., Harold Andersen (1966-1989), John Gottschalk (1989-2007), ...
- Publisher: ..., Harold Andersen (1966-1989), John Gottschalk (1989-2007), ...
- COO: ..., John Gottschalk (1986-1989), ...
Main article: Franklin child sex ring
The Omaha World-Herald was part of a child sex ring in Omaha that pandered children to political and business elites. This sex ring, run by Republican powerbroker Larry King, had links to the CIA and was used for blackmail purposes. Harold Andersen was a financial backer of Larry King, and was implicated at King's pedophilic parties along with World-Herald columnist Peter Citron. As victims of the Franklin pedophilia ring came forward, the World-Herald attacked their credibility and pushed for their prosecution. Andersen stepped down as publisher and CEO in 1989 as the Franklin scandal unfolded.
ES&S conflict of interest
- Nick Bryant, The Franklin Scandal, p.269: "I've talked to conservatives and liberals alike who feel that "Pravda of the Plains" is an apt depiction of the World-Herald, even though no one denies its influential sway among Nebraska's populace."
- Google Answers thread on ownership of Omaha World-Herald
- Lincoln Evening Journal, "Agreement Is Reached On Joint-Use Facility", 1976/02/10 (pages 1 OCR): "Gov. J. J. Exon said Tuesday he and Omaha businessmen, educators and senators have reached general agreement or a $13 million joint-use facility for downtown Omaha. After a conference in which Omaha contractor Peter Kiewit participated, Exon said details concerning costs and space needs still must be settled. Another meeting would be held, he said. Kiewit, whose business interests include the Omaha World-Herald, has offered $2.5 million toward construction of a downtown facility for the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Exon said Kiewit and others attending the meeting in the governor's office agreed to support, in general terms, an administration plan in which UNO, other state agencies and Metropolitan Technical Community College would share space. [...] Attending the meeting in addition to Exon and Kiewit were Harold Andersen, president of the World-Herald Co. and Downtown Omaha Inc.; John Gottschalk, Andersen's assistant; Omaha Sens. Glenn Goodrich, John Savage, John Cavanaugh and Eugene Mahoney; University of Nebraska President D. B. Varner; UNO Chancellor Ronald Roskens, and Matzke."
- Lincoln Journal Star, "Kernen is elected to World-Herald board of directors", 1985/02/02: "A. William Kernen, director of administrative services for the Omaha World-Herald, has been elected to the newspaper's board of directors. Kernen, 45, was elected to the board Thursday at the employee-owned company's annual stockholders meeting. Re-elected to the board were: Harold W. Andersen, president; G. Woodson Howe, vice president and executive editor; John Gottschalk, vice president for general management; Robert McNutt, vice president and advertising director; Warren Buffett, an Omaha investor, and Richard L. Coyne, chairman of the Peter Kiewit Foundation."
- Chambers v. Omaha Girls Club case
- Mary Kay Green gives her account of the trial in Ch.7 of Women of Courage: The Rights of Single Mothers and Their Children - discusses how the judge took control of the trial immediately; also mentions his clerk Wendy Hahn (later a defense lawyer for several defendants in Bonacci's trial, including Robert Wadman); the World-Herald officers were barred by the judge from being called as witnesses; jury was dismissed so that the judge could make the ruling; Hahn had written the sex education policy for the Omaha Girls Club
- Court decision on 1986/02/11 - mentions how Andersen and Gottschalk were accused together as part of a conspiracy
- Worth noting that the Omaha Girls Club was accused by Eulice Washington and others of being a venue for older men to sexually exploit the girls who attended
- Multiple versions of Bev Harris's article on right-wing connections to voting machines
- Bev Harris, "Republicans Make the US Elections Voting Machines", 2002/10/07: "And, should you have any doubt about the objectivity of the Omaha World-Herald, just look at its archive article publicizing stock picks (01/01/1989): the newspaper cites analyst's recommendations for about 20 stocks, among them: Valmont (whose chairman and CEO, William F. Welsh II, is now chairman and CEO and shareholder of Election Systems & Software, whose part-owner is the Omaha World-Herald); FirsTier Financial, whose CEO, P. E. Esping went down to Texas to become chairman and CEO of Business Records Corp, which later merged into Election Systems & Software. The paper cites another recommendation of FirsTier based on the involvement of Walter Scott, chairman of Peter Kiewit & Sons, but fails to mention that Peter Kiewit was the publisher and major shareholder of the Omaha World-Herald for two decades; the article recommends Val-Com, Inc, owned by Valmont, run by the CEO who is now the Election Systems & Software CEO; it goes on to recommend Cronus Industries (who owned Business Records Corp., which was purchased by the Omaha World-Herald's subsidiary and merged into Election Systems & Software); and for good measure, a plug is thrown in for Parker Drilling, a subsidiary of The Williams Companies that shared directors with the CIA, The George Bush School of Government, and Halliburton. The article cites no good reason to buy Parker Drilling, endorsing it simply as a good "speculative buy.""
- Bev Harris, "Right wing billionaires and Republican campaign operatives make the machines that count the votes", 2002/10/13: "World Companies, Inc.: This is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Omaha World-Herald. It is a holding company with substantial ownership in Election Systems & Software, and it also controls World Investments, Inc., World Enterprises, Inc., World Diversified, Inc., World Newspapers, Inc. and World Marketing Inc., which operates databases and direct marketing companies. Election Systems & Software is also involved in voter registration services, and no one has questioned whether there is a conflict of interest with voter registration activity and access to the nation's largest databases containing race, political affiliations and other demographics. [...] M. Gene Aldridge, the president and CEO of Omaha World-Herald subsidiary World Marketing, Inc. (the one that runs all those databases — he knows if you've been black or white, he knows if you are poor...) is part of a conservative think tank, the New Mexico Independence Research Institute, funded in part by World Marketing Inc. (You heard me). This group is dedicated to teaching everyone about free market policies and tax cuts, and is part of the State Policy Network, a well-organized consortium of about 50 lobbying groups who share their conservative agenda. When he's not busy running the jumbo-sized database and direct marketing company, he is writing letters to Congress advocating that we take the huge future tax cuts and give them to the rich RIGHT NOW."
- Bev Harris, "Who makes the vote-counting machines?", 2002/??/??: "I received a letter from ES&S attorneys that surprised me (the letter threatens all kinds of bad things if I don't take this page down — a photocopy of the letter is posted on this page. [...] Hagel came to Omaha from Washington D.C., where he worked with the first George Bush Administration. In news articles by the Omaha World-Herald, Hagel said he was coming to Omaha to become president and partner in the McCarthy Group and Chairman of American Information Systems. In his congressional bio he is said to have come to Omaha "to prepare for running for office." [...] John Gottschalk has been reported as a director for both the World-Herald Company Inc. (concentrating on the non-newspaper subsidiaries) and ES&S. He was also involved with Senator Hagel in the World USO, has relationships with James Baker; he is listed as a USO pal of George W. Bush. [...] The World-Herald Company, Inc. has a newspaper and, among all their other operations, a nationwide communications network with databases containing personal information on almost everyone in the USA, large direct mailing firms, phone message broadcasting, fax blasting, mass e-mailing, publicity, advertising, Internet services, printing, as well as elections services — and voter registration services"
- Relationships with other corporate media
- Dispatch-Argus, "Deanna Sands elected president of editors' organization", 2004/10/16: "Deanna Sands, managing editor of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, was elected president Saturday of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association. Her election came at the conclusion of the group's four-day annual conference here. She succeeds Stuart Wilk, vice president and associate editor of The Dallas Morning News. [...] APME is an organization of editors and managing editors of the more than 1,500 newspapers served by the AP. Founded in 1933, it is based at AP headquarters in New York."