Jeff Bezos: Not The Apolitical Media Savior You're Looking For
If all of life can be accurately described by cheap Star Wars analogies (granted, a big "if"), then it is fair to say the recent events shaking the news business evoke that sense of dread one feels toward the end of Return of the Jedi.
In this remastered version of the classic tale, the most famous Darth Vaders of American politics, Charles and David Koch, dropped their bid for the Tribune Company after finally being lightsabered into submission by protestors collectively shrieking a Luke Skywalker-esque "no!" But while so many are breathing a sigh of relief in apparent victory, a chuckling emperor with a tattered Washington Post under his arm is slithering out of the shadows to flambé Luke with a blast of blue lightning. And this time around, there's no wheezing, one-armed Vader who suddenly sees the error of his ways and limps over to save the day.
Jeff Bezos, of course, isn't usually described in such Palpatinian terms. But like senatorial etiquette hiding the pathologies of the boor who ran the Death Star, a gauzy public image obscures the ideology of the Amazon CEO who now owns the capital's most influential newspaper. That image also obscures how Bezos's special position as a hybrid businessman/newspaperman may allow him to use his new broadsheet as a unique political weapon - one that could pack as much of a punch as the green laser that obliterated Alderaan.
As loyal - and, likely, fearful - soldiers of the Empire, many reporters and commentators in the D.C. punditburo have studiously avoided this part of the Post acquisition story. Instead, many (though certainly not all) have greeted Bezos's purchase with the intense fawning of aspiring imperial courtiers. Revealingly, they have coupled generic "he's a swell guy!" platitudes with something far more propagandistic: an attempt to cast the new Dear Leader as anything but political.
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