American Prospect, Bill Clinton, boardroom liberalism, Establishment Media, Fred Hiatt, Harold Meyerson, Hillary Clinton, Im-Politic, Immigration, inequality, living standards, middle class, Noam Scheiber, Obama, offshoring, The Washington Post, Trade, unions, wages, working class
If you think (as you should) that the top priority of the Mainstream Media is to protect the nation’s bipartisan ruling class and its selfish, Main Street-shafting policies, you got strong support for your views last week, when Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson announced he was being dropped from the paper’s roster of regular columnists.
The Post insists that ditching Meyerson had nothing to do with his liberal positions, but with what the TV business has long called “low ratings.” Here’s the official explanation, from Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, who wielded the axe:
“The Post opinion section takes pride in publishing a wide range of views, including progressives Eugene Robinson, EJ Dionne, Ruth Marcus, Greg Sargent, Paul Waldman and Katrina vanden Heuvel and contributing columnists Rachel Maddow and Danielle Allen. We’ve been pleased to publish Harold’s columns for the past 13 years, but he failed to attract readers as these others have. And while our decision should never be made based only on clicks, I think it would be arrogant to entirely ignore what our readers are telling us.”
But Meyerson himself – who has not protested the decision – nonetheless provided information making clear that his politics were indeed an issue. In an email to a reporter covering the move, Meyerson wrote:
“In my discussion with him, Fred cited two reasons for not renewing my column. In addition to the click-count, he said there was too frequent an emphasis in my column on ‘unions and Germany,’ by which he meant — my phrasing, not his — worker rights and an alternative form of corporate governance.”
This description, which Hiatt has not disputed, shows how misleading the Post‘s rationale is. It’s true that the paper publishes figures on the left end of the political spectrum. But none of them has consistently focused on the issues of economic power, its structure, and its effects, the way Meyerson has. Moreover, none of them has paid significant attention to the offshoring-friendly trade policies responsible for so much of destructive kind of wealth and income inequality characterizing America today – in which not only does the gap between the rich and the rest widen, but in which the living standards of working and middle class families actually worsens.
In fact, many of the writers listed in the Post statement are most accurately described as what New York Times reporter Noam Scheiber has insightfully called “boardroom liberals.” Here’s his definition:
“It’s a worldview that’s steeped in social progressivism, in the values of tolerance and diversity. It takes as a given that government has a role to play in building infrastructure, regulating business, training workers, smoothing out the boom-bust cycles of the economy, providing for the poor and disadvantaged. But it is a view from on high—one that presumes a dominant role for large institutions like corporations and a wisdom on the part of elites. It believes that the world works best when these elites use their power magnanimously, not when they’re forced to share it. The picture of the boardroom liberal is a corporate CEO handing a refrigerator-sized check to the head of a charity at a celebrity golf tournament. All the better if they’re surrounded by minority children and struggling moms.”
According to Scheiber, President Obama is a leading exemplar. Though the author seems to demur, I would argue that Hillary Clinton and her former chief executive husband are two others. And regular readers of the Post edit page and many of the aforementioned columnists will find this characterization familiar, too.
Not that Meyerson was the last word on what ails the nation economically. In particular, he toed the labor union line far too slavishly, including a refusal to recognize mass immigration as a mortal threat to U.S. wages, broader living standards, and economic security. His own particular dogmatism also included an uncritical worship of Big Government.
But Meyerson – who will still be appearing in his own American Prospect magazine, and apparently from time to time in the Post – did write from a perspective that’s all too rare inside the bipartisan Beltway political and media bubble. And Hiatt’s tortured rationalization all but guarantees that whatever replacement is chosen for Meyerson won’t make this capital gang any more diverse.