Krugman: What happens when Fox buys politicians

It’s a theme park around the media circle these days — you just can’t get away from the billionaires and their doings. (It still looks like hubris will be our best hope of victory.)

On the heals of Frank Rich’s “billionaires’ coup” (previously noted) comes this from Paul Krugman. Here he writes about the practice of “putting politicians on [the] payroll”:

As Politico recently pointed out, every major contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination who isn’t currently holding office and isn’t named Mitt Romney is now a paid contributor to Fox News. Now, media moguls have often promoted the careers and campaigns of politicians they believe will serve their interests. But directly cutting checks to political favorites takes it to a whole new level of blatancy.

Arguably, this shouldn’t be surprising. Modern American conservatism is, in large part, a movement shaped by billionaires and their bank accounts, and assured paychecks for the ideologically loyal are an important part of the system. Scientists willing to deny the existence of man-made climate change, economists willing to declare that tax cuts for the rich are essential to growth, strategic thinkers willing to provide rationales for wars of choice, lawyers willing to provide defenses of torture, all can count on support from a network of organizations that may seem independent on the surface but are largely financed by a handful of ultrawealthy families.

But the thrust of his article is about Fox and its role in, not just bankrolling, but controlling the modern Republican agenda, with these results:

Perhaps the most important thing to realize is that when billionaires put their might behind “grass roots” right-wing action, it’s not just about ideology: it’s also about business. What the Koch brothers have bought with their huge political outlays is, above all, freedom to pollute. What Mr. Murdoch is acquiring with his expanded political role is the kind of influence that lets his media empire make its own rules.

The piece is better than any set of excerpts can imply, with much telling detail. For example, following the paragraph above, Krugman discusses the hacking of phones by News of the World reporters (which Chris in Paris discussed here), and how the hobbled reaction benefits both Murdoch’s political interests and his business interests (say good-bye BBC). Do read.

I meant what I said about hubris being our best hope (their hubris, of course). I’ve written earlier how disappearing the Puppet Master is critical to Big Money pulling off this coup. But there’s something in their barely socialized Galtian brain that keeps them crowing.

Good. Now we’ve got some mainstream help with the message. Time to advance the narrative, and move the ball down the field toward their goal line.


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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