The Media Mogul Protection Racket

Michael Bloomberg SC The Media Mogul Protection Racket

I was halfway into the latest celebratory profile of Chris Hughes, the Facebook multi-millionaire and owner of the New Republic, when I was struck by the following idea, which I provide free of charge. If you are a millionaire or billionaire looking to avoid negative or critical or even remotely credulous press coverage, stop what you are doing, invest in a media property, and employ liberal writers and editors. You will probably lose a lot of money, but the intangible benefits of slavish praise and deflected criticism will be priceless.

Emphasis should be placed on the hiring of liberal writers and editors. Rupert Murdoch, who employs conservatives as well as liberals and whose eclectic politics do not conform to the intellectual fashions of the day, is the subject of endless negative coverage because his populist outlets dare to question received wisdom. Murdoch is also a passionate newspaperman who loves a good story. The moguls who benefit from the media protection racket tend to be dilettantes who came into their fortune outside of journalism and who see the ownership of a newspaper or magazine or website as an indulgence they can afford to enjoy. (Think of Sidney Harman’s temporary ownership of Newsweek.)

What is most remarkable is that these moguls are exactly the type of characters liberals would otherwise despise and delight in cutting down. Take for example the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, a Mexican national of Lebanese descent who is insanely wealthy thanks to the endemic cronyism of the Mexican telecommunications industry. He also bailed out the New York Times Company with a $250 million loan in 2009 and as of October 2011 owned a little more than seven percent of the property. What do you know, the Times is not exactly flooding-the-zone with reporting on Slim’s treasure chest, his interconnectedness with global politics, and the outer limits of his ambition. When Slim visited Washington, D.C., in February to huddle with Hillary Clinton, Janet Napolitano, Ron Kirk, Gene Sperling, Julius Genachowski, John Bryson, John Kerry, and others, only Univision and the WFB deigned to mention it.

Warren Buffett is another crony who benefits from bailouts of financial institutions, structures his company to avoid paying taxes, and owes millions of dollars in back taxes. His faith in government seems not to extend to the estate tax, as can be seen in his support for the Giving Pledge, which billionaires take to “pledge their fortunes early in their lives, so that they can have more control over how it’s spent.” Also he is a weirdo who lives on a 12-year-old-boy-diet of Cherry Coke and hamburgers and appears to limit his interviews to attractive women. Ordinarily, of course, liberals would raise hackles over his selfishness and peculiarity. Yet Buffett has invested in the flailing Washington Post Company for decades, bought a majority stake in a local newspaper conglomerate with 25 dailies across the country earlier this year, and of course spouts the liberal Democratic gospel of higher taxes on the wealthy. If liberals don’t owe him for providing them jobs, at least they owe him for copy that reinforces their prejudices. Naturally he has been apotheosized as one of this country’s secular saints. He is called the “Oracle of Omaha,” lionized on the cover of Time magazine (“Warren Buffett is on a Radical Track”) and seemingly immune to serious inquiry or incredulity.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is a mixture of Lee Kuan Yew and Napoleon Bonaparte. He says he knows better than the rest of us when it comes to smoking, eating, governing, term limits, and life in general, and he is prepared to use his $25 billion to shape America so that it produces little (littler?) Bloombergs. His media company, Bloomberg LP, is a behemoth that employs more than 10,000 people.

That is basically the equivalent of an army division covering and influencing financial services, international business, and United States politics. Yet Bloomberg media practice a studied incuriosity when it comes to their namesake. In October for instance New York City’s Campaign Finance Board rebuked the mayor for not reporting $1.2 million in contributions to the Empire State’s Independence Party. Plenty of New York media covered the decision; the Bloomberg properties did not.

Read More at . By Matthew Continetti.

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