We mark the passing of Richard M. Scaife, publisher, philanthropist and political advocate, as a significant milestone both for Western Pennsylvania, which remained his home turf, and the nation, which he sought to influence.
Born to vast wealth as an heir to the Mellon fortune, Mr. Scaife, who died early Friday at 82, was certainly a generous contributor to Western Pennsylvania’s institutions, such as The Carnegie and other worthy causes.
By his own reckoning, it was his role as a publisher of the Tribune-Review and its sister papers that gave him the greatest sense of accomplishment. As fellow newspaper lovers, we can tip our hat to him for that sentiment.
More problematic was his role in America’s political wars. More than anybody, he was the original financier of the right — not only as a key supporter of think-tanks but as the financial enabler of vendettas, particularly against President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary.
To his supporters, his efforts were in the service of liberty and limited government. To his critics, Mr. Scaife helped release furies that remain with us in the form of rank partisanship and grid-locked government.
While Dick Scaife’s voice was mostly one of opposition, not of support, today we leave it to history to decide whether that was good or bad.