Matt Welch on the Big Bezos Buy:
There has been a lot of facile commentary about Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos agreeing to buy the legendary Washington Post newspaper for $250 million cash, but one of the most revealing reactions came from former Post reporter Alec MacGillis in The New Republic. In the midst of a Luddite rant about how Bezos has “devastated the publishing industry,” MacGillis snorts out a six-word advertisement for journalistic closed-mindedness: “His politics are not visibly objectionable.”
Try to move past the fact that The New Republic is now owned by a Facebook billionaire who used to run Barack Obama’s social media campaign, and instead focus on the underlying assertion here: Ideology and political activity outside the journalist-drawn boundaries must be objected to. Elite scribblers have been struggling with that imperative ever since yesterday afternoon’s bombshell announcement.
Bezos is might best be described as libertarianish-ish-ish, with the accent on ish.
What he is not is doctrinaire anything, which makes his ownership of WaPo a great big plus. At the very least, Bezos is ruffling all the right feathers. I wonder what kind of a price he could get for the New York Times? Then again, why should he bother? He’ll likely make WaPo even more national via Amazon Prime distribution, and from there he could hyperlocalize as well. We usually think of Amazon as the box from UPS with smiley-face swoosh on it, but don’t forget Amazon is huge in digital distribution as well.
Now if the Koch brothers would just please go ahead and buy the Los Angeles Times, the resulting exploding skulls would make me a very happy man indeed.