Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sirota: Press Are In The Bag For Bloomberg

I have long said that journalists, reporters, columnists and even many of the bloggers working for non-profits are in the bag for Bloomberg.

After all, you never know when your place of business is going to be bought by Herr Mayor (or one of his oligarch pals like Rupert Murdoch), so one must be careful how Bloomberg and his policies (all oligarch-friendly, of course) are portrayed in your writing.

It wouldn't do to piss Bloomberg off and find yourself out of a job when he buys Businessweek or the Financial Times or the NY Times (or his oligarch buddy buys the Wall Street Journal.)

In fact, it's best to make Herr Bloomberg happy so when the inevitable downsizing happens to you or you want to supplement your current gig with a good-paying propagandist job, you can go and work for Bloomberg Views (like Jonathan Alter, Margaret Carlson, Michael Kinsley, Al Hunt, et. al.) or his philanthropy.

David Sirota has noticed this too and says so in Salon:

Have you ever wondered why Bloomberg is perpetually portrayed as an uber-popular mayor, despite consistent polls to the contrary, and despite barely winning reelection after grossly outspending his little known opponent? Have you ever wondered how Bloomberg could be glowingly billed as a moderate liberty-loving hero even as he has trampled civil liberties and freedom in ways that would make a Banana Republic’s dictator blush? Have you ever wondered why the mayor of New York is a ubiquitous guest on most major news programs, even though he is but the mayor of one city?

All of that has to do with fear and desire. Simply put, there’s a fear among many in the media that Bloomberg may one day buy out their employer, and that if they don’t treat him well, they’ll be out of a job. Likewise, there’s a desire among many to get a high-paying job from Bloomberg when that buy-out moment happens, or to get a fat paycheck at one of the outlets he uses to convert has-been pundits and politicos into his loyal ideological spokespeople.

Fueling rumors of Bloomberg’s impending purchases, then, simply stokes that fear and desire — which consequently expands Bloomberg’s overall influence over the media. Hence, a wildly unpopular authoritarian is typically depicted as America’s beloved “Freedom Mayor,” replete with top bookings on major shows to promote his supposed benevolence. Hence, Bloomberg-ism — read: genuflection to Wall Street, deification of the super-rich and rejection of basic civil liberties — becomes the unquestioned ideological position of many major news outlets.

Sirota has a piece in Harpers that expands this theme to the media at large, which is owned by a very few very wealthy men who exert an undue influence over public opinion through their TV, radio, and newspapers. Sirota notes:

Newspaper competition once mitigated at least some of the problems that come with monopoly and oligopoly. If one paper reported something at the behest of its vainglorious owner, another newspaper might debunk it and expose the propaganda for what it was. But that competition is dwindling — and as I show in my Harper’s piece, it isn’t being replaced by the Internet. Indeed, though there are some outlets like Salon that focus on and fund independent journalism, aggregation is the cyberspace norm, which means the Web is often amplifying the newspaper-based Citizen Kanes rather than challenging them.

Bloomberg’s potential jump into the newspaper business proves he understands the centrality of newspapers in this mass information architecture — and how that architecture can work even more to his advantage than it already is. He is but one Citizen Kane who sees today’s media for what it is — a place increasingly averse to genuine journalism, because journalism gets in the way of the owners’ power.

It's all rigged - the stock market, the elections, LIBOR, the criminal justice system, and the media.

Truly, we live in another Gilded Age - only this time, the progressives work for non-profits who are funded by corporate entities like Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg LP.


  1. TeachmyclassMrMayorAugust 22, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    Thank you Mr. Sirota for writing what I have been saying for the past few years.

  2. It may be time to recreate 1789 only in America.