Saturday, May 12, 2007

"Whew!! That was close.", pt. 2 - A column from a recent edition of Editor & Publisher comes to us as an equal parts unanticipated and welcome coda to a post published elsewhere. As E&P informs us vis-a-vis Sam Zell's purchase of the Tribune Co., Zell is not unfavorably disposed towards some sort of deal with David Geffen for purchase of the LA Times, he "ruled out working with Eli Broad and Ron Burkle." This is significant in light of what was at stake, as discussed in the previously cited post.

But just as important for those of us who favor some sort of balanced reporting from the mainstream media, Zell's ownership of the Tribune consortium represents that much more of a chance that such will remain the case (or more correctly, that the abundant liberal media bias will be less blatant.) Part of the reason why Tribune Co. favored the Zell offer over the one presented by Messrs. Burkle and Broad was the Tribune board's concern that Burkle and Broad wouldn't confirm that "they had no plans to inject themselves into the editorial process." Indeed, there is no doubt that Ron Burkle - a confidant of (and bagman for) Bill and Hillary Clinton - would not have flexed every editorial muscle to bend the reporting of the L.A. Times, the [Chicago] Tribune and the other Tribune Co. papers in the service of Clinton and Clinton leading up to the 2008 presidential elections and beyond.
As we might expect, E&P was curious as to his political leanings and how they will affect the editorial leanings of the Tribune newspaper holdings. According to the E&P report (which cited reporting by the Chicago Tribune), Mr. Zell's political views may be "fairly conservative," as his favorite writers include syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, and David Brooks and Thomas Friedman of the New York Times. Perhaps to the relief of editorial page editors from coast to coast, Zell avers that he is not naive enough "to think that I have any influence about what people write." (Zell has repeatedly said that he does not intend to influence the editorial policies of any of the Tribune newspapers; as noted previously, Broad and Burkle were unwilling to make a similar promise.)

All of this is noteworthy for the simple fact that it demonstrates the media's overarching concern with maintaining its own autonomy such that it can continue to act in its own narrow interests with minimal interference. In asking quite directly "
[w]hat are his political beliefs and will they influence the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and the company's other newspapers?", the decidedly left-leaning E&P betrays abundant interest that the (in its words) "moderately liberal" LA Times not be burdened by such encumberences as journalistic integrity, or anything else that might compromise its status as a house organ of the "vast Left-wing conspiracy."

For their part, the main concern of those who criticize the media for its abundant biases is not that the M.A.C. tilts liberal versus conservative (as we are quite inured to that), but rather that it bends towards the Brahmins of Boston, the sophisticates of the Upper West Side and the elites of Hollywood, and away from the great unwashed of Roxberry, Harlem and East L.A. It is the M.A.C.'s abject lack of concern for the least in its vicinity - save the exception of ponderous pontification about how conservative policies foster greater "inequity" - that renders it a malignancy in the body politic. Rather than speak out in any meaningful way on behalf of the truly downtrodden, the media concerns itself with whether it will be able to spout liberal boilerplate without challenge.

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