Tuesday, August 6, 2013

EXTRA! EXTRA! Flag and Rag of Empire & Oligarchy to Change Hands! -OR- "Still Quite Remarkable In Its Way ..."

Headline in today's (August 6, 2013) print edition of The Washington Post.

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Wow -- The Washington Post, a.k.a., The WaHoPo, home, locus, nexus, and rag of the Beltway courtier class that waves the Flag of Empire & Oligarchy, has been SOLD by the Graham Family Empire to Jeff Bezos, Founder, Chairman, and of CEO of Amazon.com, for a cool $250 Million, who is to take the paper and its online version private.

Hmmm...

Apparently, Don Graham wants to focus on its Kaplan Education and other online and for-profit education scams (and without the name Post).

"Ah hehehehe [burble and drool] ... This is the best investment decision yet."

On The WaHoPo.com site, that particularly annoying feature of The Washington Post throughout its history is on full display: Rampant self-mythologizing and lots of yammering about what a great move this is for everybody. (I'm not even going to both to link to those stories. It just is.)

However, the lead article by Paul Fahri -- which is available here -- is actually quite comprehensive. (This will be in the print edition.) (As for Paul Fahri, as a personal aside, I had lunch with him and Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes back in 1999 in The WaHoPo cafeteria (neither of them would remember me) during an ill-fated fall semester taught by Dorothy Gilliam.) (The Post always combined a cheap throw-away political correctness, especially on racial matters, with worship of money, power, and oligarchy.)

True, Katharine "I really belong in a karaoke bar in Daytona Beach" Weymouth, niece of the creepy Don Graham, will remain as publisher for the time being, and you'll hear lots of crap about maintaining the "editorial independence" and "journalistic integrity" of the paper, but that's corporate horsesh!t talk that gets first-year journalism students and Poynter Institute types all tingly all over. No one who spends a quarter billion dollars is going to let the paper -- which has been losing circulation for decades and hemorrhaging for seven years -- is going to let the money-losing current business model continue.

Above all else, I'm hopeful this means an end to Fred Hiatt's editorial whorehouse "stable" of neo-con pundits and reign of the lapdog editorial writers in service to Oligarchy & Empire. Whether the paper goes fully "lefty" or, more likely, corporate oligarchical / outright New York Post-style rightwing fascistic, it doesn't matter: The era of the Sally Quinn dinner party and The Washington Consensus is ending, if it is not already over.

To use / adapte Paul Krugman's great phraseology, the Very Serious People no longer have a Very Serious Central.

Now it is true that The Post may continue in something like its current form for some unspecified period of time, but this ends the Graham Family Empire's actual control of The WaHoPo since that long-ago Depression era sale in 1933 when Don Graham's grandfather, Eugene Meyer, bought the paper at a bankruptcy sale.

Alas,  blogger Atrios beat me to the punch about "structural unemployment" for The WaHoPo editorial and op-ed writers.

But, as I said, The Post is likely to continue in its current form for some time, and even if there are abrupt changes, not to worry: Whether op-ed (George Will, Dr. "Chuckles" Krauthammer, Richard Cohen, Robert Samuelson, or David Ignatius) or editorial past (Mallaby and Wittes), or present (Ruth "Mother" Marcus), this whole cast of corporate oligarchical lapdogs will land in a feathered nest. (I recently talked about Mother Marcus here.)

Borrowing an insight from the same blogger Atrios, if The Post really does change profoundly, how will the Beltway "Gang of 500" send messages to each other about its members' intentions and designs??

Finally, what will the Great and Powerful Martha "M.J." McAteer do? Will she ever be able to return to The WaHoPo as the Preternatural Gatekeeper, resurrecting those halcyon days of the late 1990s? Back when it was all about Monica's Dress and rightwing think tanks and VRWC media organs were sprouting up like mushrooms after a few days of heavy rainfall.

Furthermore, POLITICO will continue as the distilled nihilistic essence of The Post's political coverage. Worst of all, the aptly called  "The Stench of the Potomac" (please read that Frank Rich article to which I linked in those quotes) that is the nexus of top 0.01% corporate oligarchy's lobbying and influence-peddling, policies destructive of the American working middle class, and endless courtier flattering will continue, not to mention the endless metastasizing of the post-9/11 military-industrial-surveillance complex with neocon warmongering, all while American neo-Confederate right political philosophy forever triumphs over anything socially democratic because of how political power is apportioned in America.

In short, Obama Meets Robert Rubin Meets Oligarchical Over-class Meets Post-Citizens United Cranky Teabagger Billionaire Meets Compromised Wussy Corporate Lobbyist Democrats Meet Neo-Confederate Loon Meets For-Profit Media / Entertainment Complex Meets Low Information Voter is NOT over, and there is no sign of this ending any time soon.

By the way, in one of those -- and I'm sorry to use this phrase but it is appropriate -- DELICIOUS ironies -- the former long-time WaHoPo media affairs report, Howard Kurtz, most recently a writer for The Daily Beast site, had a Tweet battle with Tina Brown on the very day this sale was announced. Kurtz (who started at The Post about a million years ago covering a long-forgotten HUD scandal) commented on the end of Newsweek as a publication, to which Brown replied by Tweet  (see below).


Recall that Kurtz was fired by Brown this past May for his weird extra-curricular activities and profound inaccuracies and increasing journalistic laziness (which is what Brown means in her "serial inaccuracy" charge.

Anyway, back to The WaHoPo, including my feelings and its likely fate ...

I personally will never forget or forgive the editorial section for excusing the 2000 Supreme Court Coup that gave us the Bush Disaster. And NO ONE can forget the nonstop pro-war propaganda in the lead-up to the Iraq-Nam War Catastrophe that Fred Hiatt trumped (and which has just gone down the memory hole). Then there is all the "Free Trade" nonsense that has obliterated the American working class, not to mention talk of "structural reforms" to abolish Social Security, Medicare, and remaining pensions of the working class for the oligarchical overclass.

The "news" side was slightly less offensive.

And while I would have preferred that glorious headline "Washington Post Declares Bankruptcy, To Cease Operations", this turn of events is almost as good since it initiates a process whose ultimate end is very likely the end of The Post.

In short, if the ultimate fate of what was once the Sun is to end up a "lump of (degenerate) hydrogen ice*," then the ultimate fate of what was once The Washington Post is to end up a Chinese-hacked online Viagra ad website.

*I read this somewhere, and it assumes that the Sun or its remnant isn't devoured by a passing black hole or otherwise destroyed between now and Deep Time ...

Lastly, let me end with this ...

The Washington Post newspaper started on December 6, 1877, and to this day I think one of the first letters (maybe THE first) was written by a person under the pseudonym "Junics" (although I always though it was "Junius") and all these years later it is worth quoting (including the terrific headline):

Quite Remarkable In Its Way
Washington, D.C., December 7, 1877

To the Editor of The Post:

If the Star is right, the name which you chose for THE POST is wrong. Your paper ought to have been called the Daily Hearse. The editor and undertaker should have been Obituary Childs. The very name -- POST -- stuns the D.C. terrapins with amazement, and wakes the graveyard toads. Instead of life, we should have death in journalism here. Why innovate on the pamphlet style of editorial? My God, where is the leader in long primer, the fundamental essay on Democracy; the column review of Dr. Johnson's dictionary stolen from Macaulay; the column eulogy on Mr. Snooks, and the long elegy on Mr. Jones, and the biography of Samson, of jawbone memory? You have them not. These things are in the Star's graveyard. Why do you not fix your mantle about you a la Thanatopsis, and instantly suffocate yourself in its folds. Be a Roman, man! Junics.

Nice. And still relevant almost 136 years later..

(I do want to note that the term "D.C." was already in use in 1877. This was almost 7 years after the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 that created what is now the single legal unit of "Washington, D.C." I wrote about that here.)

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OK, that's all for now. My next planned update will feature pictures from my Sunday walk with Gary through D.C.'s wealthiest enclaves.

--Regulus

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