Time magazine got one thing wrong in its two-page story this week on Cincinnati's richest
It says Carl Lindner is a real estate, insurance and banana tycoon. That's right. It says
he has showered money on Democrats and Republicans alike. That's right, too. Just ask Dwight
Tillery and Stan Aronoff about Mr. Lindner's ecumenical interest in politics.
But Time also called him ''reclusive,'' and nothing could be further from the truth.
Silver hair, yellow Rolls
You can see him driving around during nice weather with the top down on his cream-colored
Rolls Royce. Or inspecting the jonquils at the end of his driveway on Shawnee Run Road. Or
walking around downtown. Without an entourage, usually.
He was at the opening of a new nightclub in Newport and at the Christian Hills Academy
commencement. He was in his very visible courtside seat at the ATP. You can find him in the
tent, helping his grandkids juggle their plates at the Charity Horse Show. He has had his
picture taken with Ronald Reagan and Marge Schott. This is a guy who gets around.
And now the rest of the world is discovering him.
First, comedienne Paula Poundstone squinted into the audience at a fund-raiser at Ford's
Theatre in Washington and wondered aloud how the president knows this ''banana guy.'' The way
most politicians know him. By the color of his money.
Now Frontline on PBS has scheduled a 90-minute report titled ''So You Want to Buy a
President.'' Correspondent Robert Krulwich says it's an ''affectionate portrait of a guy who
frankly uses his political connections as often and as much as he can.'' Reclusive? I don't
Nor is he mysterious.
He has worn his Baptist religion on his sleeve for as long as anybody can remember. He
makes his wishes clearly known. The Cincinnati Business Committee (CBC) dithered for months
over how to handle dismissing their executive director because Mr. Lindner wanted him to stay.
And said so. Most insiders agree that Mr. Lindner threw his support behind the CBC staffer
because he was genuinely fond of the man. It was not just business.
Sometimes it can be very personal. In the late '70s, Cincinnati Magazine in an otherwise
fawning look at the financier, pictured him as a scoop of ice cream. He was furious and stayed
that way for years. He didn't like a 1993 series about himself that appeared in The Enquirer,
Both stories were done without benefit of a conversation with Mr. Lindner. As was the
Time magazine story. As was the Frontline story. As are they all.
He is not reclusive. He is not mysterious. He just doesn't talk to media. Ever.
We don't understand this. After all, we are simply trying to do our job, which includes
noticing what kind of underwear is favored by the president of the United States and whether
the first lady lies more effectively with short or long hair.
Money for ATP
Today, I'm pretty sure that Paul Flory, the force behind the ATP Tennis Championships,
will announce that Carl Lindner or one of his companies will spend a bunch of money on the
ATP. I'm only guessing.
I couldn't get anybody to blab. The best I could get was the promise of a slide show, a
turkey sandwich and a ''big announcement'' at noon today. Mr. Flory will present a check to
Children's Hospital, the proceeds of the most recent event. This should bring the total
contributed since 1974 to about $3 million.
Last year, when Winn-Dixie, a Florida-based chain, bought the Lindner family's Thriftway,
it seemed unlikely the retailer would continue sponsorship of the ATP. Like the $55,000 Mr.
Lindner sent to the Kidney Foundation and the money he funneled into the zoo and the Shriners
Burns Institute, his family's support of the tennis tournament probably was not strictly
Perhaps it's time to notice the possibility that maybe he's not a bad guy. Nice even.
Generous for sure.
I told the ATP office and someone at Mr. Lindner's office that I would be available to
discuss this. I mentioned how adorable and trustworthy I am. I waited all day for my phone to
And it never did.
Laura Pulfer's column appears in Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393
or fax at 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU (91.7 MHz), and as a regular
commentator on NPR's Morning Edition.