by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
Reason’s Matt Welch has a hilarious blog post on how journalists are handling the sale of Washington Post to Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. It seems his politics “are not visibly objectionable,” but that could be a problem, you know.
Bezos is “strong on social issues” but — apparently paradoxically — “in 2010 gave $100K to defeat measure to levy income tax on WA residents making more than $200,000.” To the extremely strict orthodoxy that is today’s old media, any deviation from the Party line is highly suspicious.
Welch writes that the “soft media consensus” has tentatively settled on Bezos as “a quiet libertarian, though thankfully not the scary kind.” Whew.
The “scary kind” of libertarian (aside: such a distinction is lacking in the collected works of Chris Christie, for whom “scary libertarian” is as redundant as “lapdog Republican”) include the brothers Koch. Here is how Welch described the media resolve in describing the Kochs:
So you can support gay marriage, drug reform, and reduced defense spending, but do all that while also getting belatedly involved in Republican politics? You’re “staunchly conservative” and must be forcibly prevented from snatching newspapers from their rightful owners: corporatist, billionaire Democratic Party donors.
What kind of change would Bezos, who “quietly sells people stuff they want for a price they like, and leaves the political branding where it belongs: far removed from the wonderful scrum of everyday life,” bring to the Post? Welch is hopeful while also describing the Post’s traditional role within the status quo and how it could possibly be challenged by the new owner:
Post publishers have long been kingmakers, peacekeepers, and zealous guardians of the acceptable status quo. They helped draw the lines around what is “visibly objectionable” in American political life. Jeff Bezos won’t waltz into Washington with an eraser, but his example strongly suggests that power in the 21st century is rightly shifting away from those who dictate agendas, and toward those who get their agendas out of the way.
I hope Welch is right about that. Meanwhile, the old media and statist left continue this new tack of reacting to discovered libertarians like a mad, anesthetized Dreyfus:
It’s a libertarian! Kill him!