A private-equity firm called One Rock Capital got the Commerce Department to levy tariffs on imported newsprint over the objections of the U.S. press, Canadian government and bipartisan lawmakers, according to a Monday Wall Street Journal report.
The company reportedly approached Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross about how Canadian newsprint imports were hurting its business, resulting in tariffs that lifted newsprint prices by 30 percent.
For U.S. newspapers, the cost of newsprint is usually the second-greatest expense after personnel, making this increase a significant burden that could lead to layoffs and closures.
“This whole play by Norpac basically disrupted an entire industry,” Paul Boyle, senior vice president at the News Media Alliance, told the Wall Street Journal.
“My cynical side says you’ve got an administration that happens to be not a big fan of the print publications generally,” Kevin Mason, an analyst at ERA Forest Products Research, added.
The White House reportedly called the claims “ridiculous” and Ross maintained that this was a “complicated and unique case,” and that the tariffs successfully punish “bad actors.”