Tuesday, August 06, 2013


Everyone is talking about Jeff Bezo's purchase of the Washington Post. I don't think this decision will be as "culturally cataclysmic" as some say, since it continues the hoary tradition of a CIA link to the Post.

Bezos and the CIA? Yes. They started working together last year. Maybe earlier. Bezos and the CIA's investment arm have sunk a lot of money in a quantum computer called DWave which will make it easier for the NSA to break encryption systems.

(Seems like every story these days is related to the NSA...)

Of course, the intelligence connection is hardly surprising to anyone who knows the backgrounds of Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee -- or, for that matter, Bob Woodward. I would be surprised if there weren't an intelligence connection to Bezos.

Bezos is generally considered a liberal, but I'm guessing this means (as it usually means) "liberal on social issues." By now, we all know what to expect from a liberal-on-social-issues megacapitalist: Gay marriage? All for it! A decent minimum wage and single-payer health insurance? Er...let me get back to you on that. Meanwhile, here's a copy of "Atlas Shrugged" for you to read!

An immodest proposal. Bezos famously has said that printed newspapers will disappear within twenty years, and that most readers will refuse to pay for internet news. So how to fund journalism?

I propose that we use the BBC as a model. A modest annual tax on internet service providers can be distributed equally among internet newspapers, enabling them to hire more staff and do more overseas and investigative reporting. Of course, there will be endless wrangling over what constitutes a "newspaper" on the internet -- blogs, obviously, are out -- and also over what constitutes objective reportage. But if everyone understood that an obviously skewed news publisher would lose its subsidy, there would be an incentive to provide unbiased coverage.

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