American Consequences - August 2017


Among the enduring questions of American journalism – What happened to Amelia Earhart? Who was that guy lurking behind the fence on the grassy knoll? How does Gail Collins keep her job? – is this: Why are business journalists so anti-business ?

By Andrew Ferguson

The traditional posture of progressives toward people who have won the market lottery is mistrust with a generous helping of moral outrage, on the assumption that success is always underpinned by the exploitation of the disadvantaged by the powerful.

That is, why do the boys and girls who write about capitalism bear such hostility to the men and women who practice it? Having worked over the course of a long career for a number of outlets that cover business, I speak from personal experience. You could set off a neutron bomb in the Bloomberg News headquarters without bumping off a single Republican. That is, if you don’t count the maintenance crew and maybe a couple of nerds writing code in the basement. But this timeless conundrum of hackery admits one exception: business journalists love tech titans. Tim Cook, Larry Ellison, Eric Schmidt, Sheryl Sandberg, and Mark Zuckerberg... These folks at the very tippy top of the capitalist heap enjoy a view that would have made the most successful robber baron green – or green er , anyway – with envy. Not only have they become admired, even beloved by business reporters – they have become darlings of the left generally, somehow indemnified against the bitterness directed at pharmaceutical executives or the CEOs of oil companies.

You could set off a neutron bomb in the Bloomberg News headquarters without bumping off a single Republican.

Every good statist has learned about the great 19th century robber barons from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States , the best-selling history textbook of the last 30 years and the most effective anti-capitalist propaganda ever printed. “In industry after industry,” Zinn instructed his young readers, there were “shrewd, efficient businessmen building empires, choking out competition, maintaining high prices, keeping wages low, using government subsidies.” Progressives despise the accumulation of wealth when they can’t get their hands on it. Except when it comes to tech titans, anyway.

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