CNN CHIEF, FORMER L.A. TIMES PUBLISHER HID UNDER DESK, HE SAYS
American Reporter Staff
LOS ANGELES -- Tom Johnson, the journalist and former publisher of the Los Angeles Times who until last year headed CNN News, hid under his desk during the workday and told assistants not to schedule meetings for him as he lay in darkened hotel rooms all morning triying to deal with recurring bouts of depression, the Wall Street Journal reported today.
In a story about the problem of depression among corporate executives, the daily financial newspaper and competitor of CNN said Johnson disclosed earlier this year in the foreword to a new book that he would also bring three shirts of the same color tio work, allowing him to change them without anyone noticing when depression made him sweat so profusely.
After he was fired by the Times in 1989 the depression became worse, Johnson reportedly said in the foreword to a book by Atlanta businessman J.B. Fuqua, and he disclosed it to CNN founder Ted Turner and his then-wife, Jane Fonda, before being hired to head the CNN News Group in 1990. He also kept a diary detailing his bouts of depression. Turner's father committed suicide during Turner's youth, he has written.
At one point, Johnson also considered suicide, he says. "My mood is really low. Feel trapped. Often I think of 'checking out,'" he wrote. He never made an effort to kill himself, however, he said.
As publisher of the Times, Johnson wrote, while on business trips he would deal with an overwhelming sadness by lying in darkened rooms. According to the Journal article, his assistant "just thought I was exhausted from the schedule."
The Journal devotes a front page column and most of a full inside page today to the account of a construction executive who suffered from depression for decades, and suffered more when one of his closest friends, the son of former Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen, committed suicide.
Johnson was replaced at the Times by two executives who were both from outside journalism and were themselves fired after a scandal involving sharing profits generated by editorial content of its Sunday magazine with an advertiser. Since then the paper has been sold to a Chicago-based media holding company.