“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Thursday, September 14, 2006

the decline of the liberal papers

There were zip environmentalists in the old gold rush days in Sacramento, warning about the dangers of gold panning and such. But if there had been, they’d of been given a good listen to, then tied to the horses, dragged to the trees, and properly strung up. Boom times don’t like naysayers.

Reading about the Washington Post op ed page hiring Bush speech writer Michael “axis of evil” Gerson to balance out such well known doves as Krauthammer, Mallaby, Hoagland, Will and company, I was reminded of how simple, in a sense, is the driver behind the war on terror. To put it in terms of the headlines of the Greater Washington Organization:

“2005 Wrap Up: Washington, DC Region’s Economy is Hottest in Nation”

And to think, things were looking grim back in 2001, after 9/11. Back then, the Post reported (November 16,2001):

“Although the Washington region is likely to escape the recession that appears to be settling in across the country -- in part because of war-related spending by the government -- growth in the District has been halted and may soon turn negative. Business activity is shifting to the suburbs, sped by disruption and the image that the capital is becoming "an armed camp," said Stephen S. Fuller, a George Mason University economist. Washington Post, November 16, 2001.”

Oh, the little tinkle of war related spending, just getting on its baby legs. So cute! and being a cute baby, we naturally wanted to feed it so that it would grow up big and strong. We didn't want to do stupid things, like, oh, invest in energy R and D -- which according to the Scientific American this month is the lowest it has been, both public and private, since 1980. And a good thing, too -- what does energy have to do with anything? We have real problems. The Iranians, for instance! So the American public, always a sucker for baby wars, went out and spent and spent and spent to make baby happy. And what makes baby war happy makes D.C. happy:

“Looking back over 2005, a brief analysis of key economic indicators confirms what most Washingtonians already know: the region’s economy, encompassing Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia and Suburban Maryland, is leading the nation in nearly every major indicator.

Federal Government Contracting Driving Growth

Record federal spending, which has increased significantly in the Greater Washington area since 9/11, continues to be the engine driving the current economic upswing. At an Economic Conference today, Stephen Fuller, PhD, Director, Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, announced that the U.S. Government spent $339 billion nationally in federal procurement in fiscal year 2004. More than 15 percent ($52.6 billion) of this national total stayed in the Greater Washington region. This represents a 19 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.

Which sector is benefiting most from the increase in federal dollars? The area’s technology sector has been the winner for the past few years. According to Dr. Fuller, the government accounts for more than 70 percent of the sales of technology products and services in Greater Washington.””

This tells us, or should tell us, a lot about D.C. based media. Since Bush, one of America’s truly awful president, might be the best president the D.C. region has ever seen, he and his kind are adored by such as the managers of the Washington Post. His administration has practically sprinkled the lawns of the best and brightest with green. Papers are essentially boosters, and what they boost most is what puts money in the pocket of their city’s powerful.

Hence, the, on the surface, puzzling decision of the Post to point the middle finger at their subscribers. Face it, Eastern newspaper readers lean slightly left – they are a liberal crowd. And, all things being equal, the Post should be a liberal newspaper. It was for many years. Your standard Democratic party supporting paper, licked into shape by the New Dealer culture that stayed in D.C. But that culture is, simply, dead. The new culture is New War culture - the long war, the beautiful beautiful long war. Men are men in the long war, and federal spending is federal spending. And the Washington Post is as helpless not to follow that culture (exemplified by the D.C. region’s newest most prominent citizen, Tom Delay) as a sunflower would be to turn away from the sun.
And so we will continue to get the funny split between an increasingly conservative paper, a puzzled and outraged subscriber base, and a Post company that will no doubt finding better media profitmakers than its flagship newspaper. In a better era, where entry costs weren’t prohibitive, it would be a great time to start a D.C. paper. But the decline of papers is directly related to their monopoly of their markets. It is sorta funny: the liberal blogs like to say, bitterly, that the media operates as a stenographer for the White House. With the hiring of Gerson, they've just cut out the middle man.

It is hard to imagine a liberal paper appearing in D.C. for the foreseeable future. However, it is easy to see that the Dems, who still don’t get it, will be in for a nasty surprise if they actually do capture the House. The Post will be doing “investigative” reporting to discredit them from the moment they arrive. They threaten the Gold Rush.

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