Gaylord Legacy Casts Large Shadow Over Oklahoma City

Thursday, September 15th 2011, 10:44 pm
By: News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- They owned the Oklahoman for more than a century, but Thursday the Gaylord family said it is selling the paper and several other assets to Denver Billionaire, Philip Anschutz.

Most will agree the Gaylord family has been one of if not the most influential families in the city's history. However, there is disagreement on how they used that influence.

For 108 years the Gaylord family has owned the state's largest newspaper.

"I was a paperboy for a while," said Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.

The Gaylord family employed thousands and wielded considerable influence.

"I think if you look at the 20th Century it was largely shaped around the Gaylord family," Cornett said.

The family is active philanthropically, it's given millions to the University of Oklahoma and numerous others. They've also been very active politically.

"There's no question when there's an important city initiative they usually have an opinion about it," Cornett said. "In general, most of the positive steps the city has taken over the years has had the support of the Gaylord family and that's probably not a coincidence."

"The Gaylords used the Oklahomans over the years to punish their enemies and reward their friends, there's no two ways about it," argues Andrew Hamilton, the editor of the Oklahoma Observer and a vocal critic of the Oklahoman. He argues the family didn't always use its influence for good.

Hamilton points out the Oklahoman was named the worst newspaper by the Columbia Journalism review. He says that was largely because of front page editorials and the family using the paper to push its personal agenda.

"It's not so much what the Oklahoman tells you, it's what they don't tell you," said Hamilton. "They were very clever about leaving pertinent information out that civic-minded people would want to know to make an informed decision."

While Cornett says he was disappointed to learn the family had sold the paper, he says there's no reason to believe the family is leaving Oklahoma City.

He believes they'll continue to be huge civic boosters.