Democracy Soup

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New York Post, The Washington Times violate free market standards to win the Media Putz

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Originally published on on November 26, 2009

New York Post, The Washington Times

The New York Post and The Washington Times are two of the most conservative newspapers. But they are also have one extra element in common.

They hemorrhage money. Lots of money.

Yes, it’s the in thing now for newspapers to lose money. But these two daily newspapers lost tons of money long before it was chic to lose money.

If these papers were to survive on their own merits — a free-market concept — their titles would have been gone under a long time ago. The New York Post and The Washington Times survive even though their prominent owners, Rupert Murdoch and Rev. Sun Myung Moon, are two enterprising people who preach to us that free market is the way to go.

Except for these daily newspapers.

Rupert Murdoch does know how to make money. Rev. Moon also has a knack for accumulating wealth. Which makes the irony of these two newspapers’ track records all the more intriguing.

The New York Post’s circulation dropped almost 30 percent in 2.5 years, resting at 508,000. Newspapers are by and large dropping in circulation, but the Post’s drop is also linked to the fact that the newsstand price rose from 25¢ to 50¢. Yes, for the New York Post, going up to 50¢ was a 100% increase. Check to see if your newspaper sells for as low as 50¢. But for readers of the New York Post, 50¢ is huge, and a number of them find that the Post’s content isn’t worth 50¢.

But at least the Post has a decent circulation. As of March 2009, The Washington Times has a daily circulation of 83,511 and a Sunday circulation of 43,889. These are not misprints. And these are improved numbers from the previous 6 months.

The Washington Post reported in 2002, on The Washington Times’ 20th anniversary, that the paper received $1.7 billion into subsidies from Rev. Moon and his businesses. That’s a lot of money for a newspaper that struggles to reach 100,000 in circulation.

For Rev. Moon, owning The Washington Times removed the concept of “Moonies” from the mainstream landscape. Having a “legit” newspaper magically made that coverage go away.

Despite its recent upheaval, The Washington Times isn’t going anywhere — at least as long as Rev. Moon can pour more gasoline, er, money onto the fire.

The New York Post story is all the more appalling when you consider that the paper would have gone under on its own merit in 1993. But the government came to the rescue of the Post and Murdoch.

Murdoch was forced to sell the New York Post in 1988. The mogul had purchased WNYW-TV as part of the brand new Fox Network. The rules prohibited any subsequent ownership of a TV station and a newspaper in the same city (previous deals were grandfathered when the law changed in 1975).

But when the Post was struggling in 1993, numerous politicians (not just Republicans) pushed for the FCC to make an exception. The Federal Communications Commission granted Murdoch a permanent waiver from the cross-ownership rules.

Now, Murdoch owns two VHF stations in New York City (which is also supposed to be against the rules), the New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal.

Let’s not forget that Murdoch is consistent in this “free market works, except for his publications” philosophy. After all, Murdoch owned The Weekly Standard, which reportedly loses more than a million dollars a year, until the magazine was sold this summer to Philip Anschutz.

In a 2006 article on Murdoch, Bill Kristol told The New Yorker that Murdoch is “pro-markets” but the same article notes that “If Murdoch no longer wanted to be associated with the contents of The Weekly Standard, which loses more than a million dollars a year, his (Kristol’s) only options would be to sell it or close it down.”

The power and legitimacy afforded by owning these two daily newspapers allows conservative views and thoughts to leak into editorial content, whether it be a racist chimpanzee cartoon in the New York Post or The Washington Times’ flat-out lie this week of saying House Minority Leader John Boehner wasn’t invited to the White House state dinner, when he actually was invited.

Like Fox News, the MSM gives cover to these two newspapers as “legitimate” because they look and act like newspapers. They conveniently ignore the unethical journalism practices consistently on display in the two publications.

The histories of these two papers are contrasting: The New York Post was founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton, while The Washington Times has only existed since 1982. But they currently have much in common — run by conservatives whose journalistic practices are laughable yet get cover from the MSM. And the biggest thread in common: both conservatives believe in the free market system, except for their newspapers. For this media travesty, we jointly award the New York Post and The Washington Times the Media Putz award.

This is the first joint award for the two newspapers. The New York Post previously won the Media Putz on February 19, 2009 and The Washington Times previously won the Media Putz on February 7, 2008.


Written by democracysoup

November 26, 2009 at 6:00 am

Posted in media criticism, MSM

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