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Ed Driscoll

From Shirtsleeves to Hair Shirt in Three Generations

September 2nd, 2012 - 4:04 pm

And now, a few spittle-flecked words from MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry regarding those who take umbrage with Mr. Obama’s “you didn’t build that” speech:

Harris-Perry’s folk-Marxist freakout isn’t that surprising – while the polls are still close, there does seem to be plenty of flopsweat on the left right now. Of course, that’s an ideology that’s always in search of a new Two-Minute Hate; it doesn’t need much to set its adherents off.

But consider the venue: MSNBC, and the history wrapped up in that network’s call sign. Microsoft was, of course, formed by Bill Gates after he dropped out of Harvard in the mid-‘70s, when the idea of a personal computer still seemed like something out of Star Trek or 2001: A Space Odyssey. NBC, the other half of the equation, has much deeper roots; it was formed by David Sarnoff, a Russian immigrant who began as a paperboy in New York, before rising from office boy to commercial manager of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America, before building first the NBC radio network in the 1920s, and then the NBC television network after WWII.

NBC is currently owned by a consortium that includes GE, which was formed by Thomas Edison (himself a dropout, even if such language probably wasn’t used in the 1850s) before he went on to invent the phonograph, the electric light bulb, and the motion picture camera. Which brings us to another business with a stake in MSNBC, which is Universal Studios, founded in 1912 by Carl Laemmle, who Wikipedia notes was “a German-Jewish immigrant from Laupheim who settled in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he managed a clothing store. On a buying trip in 1905 to Chicago, he was struck by the popularity of nickelodeons,” before founding a movie studio of his own. And finally Comcast, which was founded by 1963 as a cable TV consortium, back when most people considered TV to be three fuzzy channels brought in by a pair of rabbit-ear antennas.

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