Tim Connor and Larry Shook, award winning investigative journalists, whose collective works regarding the Cowles Co and the River Park Square bond fraud (RPS) are online at Camas Magazine, now have their entire works compiled in a downloadable PDF document. Researchers now can download this document and search it with normal search tools without relying on the Camas site’s limited search function:

The Ultimate Archive
In one 800-page searchable document, all Camas RPS stories are now available in a PDF format Details…

While on the subject of research tools, anyone doing serious work on these topics the Fancher Report is a must read. This extensive report on the Cowles Co media empire was done in the 70’s regarding its cross-ownership of media in the Spokane market. It was estimated that the Cowles directly or indirectly control 80% of the media in this market. As Larry Shook writes in his soon to be published book Girl from Hotsprings chronicling the events and circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Ms. Jo Savage in the RPS parking garage:

Voices from the Shadows

DECADES BEFORE THE CONTROVERSIAL River Park Square public/private partnership, Fancher described how the Cowles family helped orchestrate an elaborate scheme to use public money—federal and local—to redevelop downtown in a way that enhanced the value of the family’s real estate. Simultaneously, Fancher’s sources told him, the family was instrumental in changing local government to make it more responsive to Cowles business interests.

Fancher’s thesis might have been portraying garden variety, old-fashioned American graft, something right out of Lincoln Steffens’s 1904 muckraking classic, Shame of the Cities, except for one thing. At the heart of the graft was the very institution that was supposed to be the watchdog guarding against corruption—a newspaper. . .

Fancher’s sources described how Spokane’s mayors, city council members, city managers, and city staffers were little more than Cowles puppets. They explained how Cowles-led downtown property owners, via compliant city hall staff, were effectively able to tax the entire community—Washington’s second largest city—for their private benefit. . .

Fancher’s sources explained that the family handpicked candidates for public offices, supported them with favorable media coverage, and editorially attacked those who opposed the Cowles agenda. (Read about present-day editorial policies in “The Stench that Won’t Go Away.”) . . .

In a way, the Fancher Report foreshadowed the River Park Square fiasco. Still, outsiders who grappled with the financial scandal of the Cowles mall were shocked by the conditions they found in Spokane. “In thirty years of practicing securities law, I’ve never seen another city like Spokane,” said Gary Ceriani of Denver, lead bondholder attorney. “I especially don’t understand Betsy Cowles. In Denver, we have people who make a living [suing] people like her. In Spokane, everyone defers to her.”

“Spokane is the last company town in America,” said former Prudential Securities investment banker Mark Schwartz of Philadelphia. Schwartz, an attorney, filed complaints with both the IRS and SEC over River Park Square . . .

. . . . Because I consider it such a valuable historical artifact, and because the ethic of university theses is to permanently contribute to scholarship, I contacted Terry Fancher and requested permission to post it on this website. After confirming the document’s authenticity, Fancher graciously approved its publication here. —L.S. (July 14, 2006)

I recently referred to the Fancher Report in a recent debate regarding the new S-R Code of Ethics and was promptly censored. Larry Shook emailed me with this comment that the findings of the Fancher Report are still valid today:

Ron: In addition to reading the Fancher Report, which you linked in your e-mail, those interested in “enlightenment” about Cowles media control of Spokane might find the 7/20/04 article “The Parable of the Three Giants” at www.camasmagazine.com useful. Among other things, the story reports:

“After taking MBA and law degrees from Harvard, Fancher went to work at the Justice Department in the early 1980s. He recently told a Camas reporter that when the Cowles family found out he had been assigned to the KHQ case, they used political influence to get him pulled off. Fancher says IRS officials told him they were furious about the move.

Obviously, KHQ’s broadcast license has remained solidly intact.

Today, says Cherie Rodgers, Spokane’s fate is essentially unchanged from the time Fancher wrote his thesis.

One of Spokane’s top advertising executives concurs. Asking not to be identified, he says his research shows the Cowleses still dominate about 80 percent of Spokane’s media.

Tom Grant, the only other journalist in Spokane to vigorously investigate River Park Square, recently wrote about his experience in a letter to Camas. He noted the “broad effort by the region’s leading news family to cover up the truth.” He criticized mainstream media for avoiding “a critical examination on the issue. The main reason: the very news leaders who should have been reporting on the secret deal were the people behind the secret deal.”

Grant blames Cowles pressure for ending his career in Spokane.

“News in Spokane has been dominated by Cowles Publishing for nearly a century. During my decade of working in Spokane television, I discovered that … The Spokesman-Review sets the agenda for all news reporting in the city. Television news directors pulled it out to determine daily assignments at morning news meetings. The Associate Press relied on it almost exclusively for determining what stories to send out on the wire. In my personal experience, I have observed the local AP office reject stories that failed to match the mainstream view as reported in The Spokesman. The AP has routinely carried stories about the parking garage deal as reported by The Spokesman, but never passes along reports from Camas Magazine.

“Cowles Publishing controls news on three television stations: the NBC affiliate, the PAX affiliate and the Fox affiliate. It has even attempted to control the news on other stations. After I reported on the secret parking garage deal [for KXLY], Cowles Publishing hired a public relations firm to muzzle my reporting, and it was successful. Part of the pressure came from direct communications between the Cowles PR firm and our news management. Part of the pressure was applied to advertisers at the other stations….”

Ron the Cop