By Doug Porter
The sale of the Washington Post this week to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has the chattering class in a tizzy, with pundits of every persuasion throwing figurative tarot cards on the table hoping to gain some insight to share with the public about this billionaire’s motivations.
I’ve read that Bezos is part of the anti-public education cabal seeking to impose the libertarian (lol) version of Sharia law on states resistant to charter schools. Others are wondering why he “would buy a stodgy, moribund unionized organization like WaPo”, the implication being that technology based improvements would be impossible and therefore doom Bezos to failure.
Then there’s the debate over whether his purchase of the Post was motivated by philanthropic concerns or a desire to expand his political influence.
Yada, yada, yada. I agree with Forbes’ Jonathan Salem Baskin. Bezos bought the newspaper because he wanted to. (And because he could do it easily via his friendship with the Graham family):
Even though today’s Social Dialectic portrays human souls in terms of bias and intent, and fits everything into some clickworthy binary battle narrative, maybe Bezos simply have found the Postan interesting or worthwhile thing in which to be involved. After all, when you’re a zillionarie, you get to do pretty much anything you could imagine, let alone want. His track record of actions barely suggests some secret motive other than having intriguing and varied interests, including media (duh). The letter he wrote to the paper’s employees all but said as much.
Maybe we shouldn’t overthink it…or overthink our brands, either.
Imagine if your company did things because its leadership and employees truly believed in them? I’m not talking about glorious mission statements, governance policies that declare love for everything good and pretty in the world, or marketing campaigns constructed to tickle consumers’ fancy. I’m thinking real stuff…building products, offering services, and taking sides on public issues if and when the company’s rank-and-file employees really cared about them (or at least tolerated management’s convictions). And doing so even if there’s no good money-making reason for it.
NPR also has a good story up about Redsox owner John Henry buying the Boston Globe. Coming in second, or third in the Beantown bidding war , depending who you’re listening to, was UT-San Diego’s Doug Manchester and his trusty minion CEO John Lynch.
Lynch complained to the Boston Herald, suggesting that the sale might be blocked via legal action. After all, the Lynchester gang had thrown the most money on the table, and it just wasn’t fair.
So obviously there were other considerations at play, one of which might have been politics. Thomas Lifson over at The American Thinker was sure of it:
“… Doug Manchester is reviled in the journalism world for having bought the U-T and turned it in a conservative direction. If it could be shown that the NYTCO turned down a higher bid in order to prevent the Globe for falling into the hands of a conservative bidder, that could open the door to a shareholder lawsuit. … If the NYT Co. left shareholders’ money on the table in order to place the Globe in non-conservative hands, then expensive litigation could lie ahead for the company.”
I love the revisionist history built into that statement: “turned it in a conservative direction.” As if the paper had a history as a bastion of liberalism or even centrist thought prior to Papa Doug’s reign.
My, my, how those righties like to hoist themselves up on the cross.
Conspiracy Theory 101
All of this brings me to today’s really big news. Our local daily fishwrap has, in so many words, noticed that we at SDFP exist. (At least we seem to meet all the criteria better than any other media in this town.) My reaction is below the quote.
From today’s editorial, entitled Mayor Grabby Grabby’s Inventive Defenders:
It doesn’t take long for followers of local social media and news websites to come upon defenders of Mayor Bob Filner offering conspiracy theories to explain his current troubles. Not just commenters but some San Diego alternative journalists — especially self-styled “progressives” — suggest the real reason Filner is facing sharp criticism is because he has crossed powerful downtown business interests.
We wonder what these apologists for horrible behavior would say if they saw the Tuesday news conference at which a 10th woman, licensed vocational nurse Michelle Tyler, spoke emotionally about Filner’s unwanted advances after she had asked him to help an injured former Marine get help with the Veterans Affairs department.
Like many San Diegans, my point of view on hizzoner has evolved as the picture has become clearer. I hate the sins, but not the sinner. And because I truly care about what happens to the city, I’m not willing to subscribe to the “everybody knows” fan club.
I’m not happy to have Bob Filner, the failed human being, in a position of power. It’s obvious he’s a masher. The fact that he got this far along in life without facing the consequences of his actions, speaks volumes about how failed the political process is.
But there he is, elected by the people. He can be removed by the courts (possibly) and via recall election. He can be sued, many times over, apparently.
As former Mayor Jerry Sanders said, quitting is not in his DNA. And questioning the motives of those who would profit from his resignation isn’t conspiracy theory.
UT-San Diego publisher Doug Manchester thinks he can get away violating the law scott free. That’s a proven fact. Look at his hotel in Del Mar. Look at the threats made when city inspectors wouldn’t ignore his unlawful construction in Mission Valley. Look at how the Centre City Development Corp. siphoned off money meant for affordable housing in San Diego. Look at San Diego’s history of bad actors who’ve screwed this town supported by our elected officials and ignored by the likes of the UT.
This isn’t conspiracy. This is reality. Not one of the people calling for Filner’s resignation has even addressed this issue. That might be evidence of a conspiracy.
Can we have good governance without Bob Filner? Filner’s ego stands in the way of his being able to answer that question. That doesn’t mean the rest of us should ignore it.
I draw the line at Trial by Press Conference. Or Trial by Twitter. And I’m not going to ignore the actions of those who stand to benefit from resignation.
Apparently former Mayor Jerry Sanders is privy to the workings of the San Diego Sheriff’s hotline/investigation into the current mayor. I guess nobody finds this strange….
From UT-San Diego:
A Sheriff’s Department hotline to take calls from potential victims of sexual misconduct by San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has “been lit up” with calls and that the department is investigating, according to former Mayor Jerry Sanders.
“I think that we’re to start seeing some action from the law enforcement side,” said Sanders, who is also a former San Diego police chief. “I know the sheriff’s hotline’s been lit up. I know they are investigating those.”
Other Filner stories making the rounds include a woman who initially called for the Mayor to resign changing her mind, Logan Jenkins speculating on whether a County Grand Jury can bring charges against the Mayor, along with Bishop McKinney and Enrique Morones circulating an open letter calling upon the NAACP to stand behind the Mayor.
About That Shiny New Convention Center Expansion…
Over at the Atlantic (which also has a recap on everything Filner), Amanda Erickson weighs in on whether or not it’s time to stop the madness that defines civic pride by the number of bathrooms in the local convention center.
Those darned facts….
Over the last 20 years, convention space in the United States has increased by 50 percent; since 2005, 44 new convention spaces have been planned or constructed in this country alone. That boom hasn’t come cheap. In the last ten years, spending on convention centers has doubled to $2.4 billion annually, much of it from public coffers…
…The reason for all this bustle is entirely economic: cities believe that convention centers are key to bringing in those coveted tourism dollars. The promise of huge groups of visitors descending, in need of places to sleep, eat, shop, perhaps catch a show, is an alluring one, especially for cities that struggle to get residents downtown.
But there’s a problem with this building bonanza, and it’s a doozy: There aren’t really enough conventions to go around. The actual number of conventions hosted in the U.S. has fallen over the last decade. Attendance at the 200 largest conventions peaked at about 5 million in the mid-1990s and has fallen steadily since then.
I know, I know, San Diego is exempt from the laws of economics because: ComicCon. Right?
About That Strange Noise Your Phone Made
So Big Brother got to impress us all with reverse 911 calls warning us about a blue Nissan and a kidnapping the other night… That’s the buzz among the tin foil hat set these days, any way.
The bizarre noises generated by cell phones were not because the Man was calling your phone. Cell phone towers were emitting a signal that called (almost) everybody’s phones. Those of us with earlier (or more stupid) models were spared.
From the LA Times:
Residents across California were startled overnight by cellphones that came to life in screeches and buzzes, awaking some and unsettling others with the state’s first Amber Alert via text message.
Californians are no strangers to Amber Alerts, which are issued for critical child abductions. But for the first time Monday night, residents across the Southland experienced an Amber Alert issued via text message to their cellphones — and got the full complement of a 10-second spurt of high-pitched noise and buzzing.
The message — which included only basic details about a blue Nissan — sent many customers into a tizzy of confusion, even anger. The text did not explain the circumstances.
On This Day 1934 – The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling striking down the government’s attempt to ban the controversial James Joyce novel “Ulysses.” 1999 – Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres got his 3,000th hit of his major league career. 2003 – In California, Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he would run for the office of governor. (Just wanted to remind you how well that recall worked out)
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