Saagar Enjeti: Bloomberg exposes 'true danger' of 'corporate media'

Opinion by: Saagar Enjeti

Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergPoll: 68 percent of Democrats say it 'makes no difference' if a candidate is a billionaire Chicago mayor weighing possible Bloomberg endorsement Judge Judy's verdict: Ignoring Bloomberg's record to endorse others made no sense MORE is many things, but we must all at least thank him for exposing the true danger to our democracy that corporate media poses.

Yesterday, Bloomberg news editor in Chief John Micklethwait sent a note to staffers outlining how they will deal with their boss throwing his hat in the presidential ring. Many took notice of the fact that they would suspend their editorial board, but another stray line actually caught my eye.

Micklethwait writes that the news organization will quote "continue our tradition of not investigating Mike" and that in keeping with their policy towards competitive financial companies that they will not investigate any of Bloomberg's rivals in the presidential race. Sounds like the ethical thing to do, but think about how much of a gift that Michael Bloomberg's corporate control over a major news organization is granting him.

It is difficult to describe how much of an in kind political donation it is to not have one of the largest news gathering organizations on the planet not investigate you while you're running for President. Now you might say, yeah but they're not investigating anyone else. Well, that's a very bad thing too! They're supposed to be investigating candidates, that's their job.

But this isn't just about Mike Bloomberg, all Bloomberg news did is say the quiet part out loud. We live now in a time where oligarchs of immense fortunes control media companies to shape the public environment to the benefit of their business. One of my particular favorite reactions to Bloomberg news' announcement was the indignant and surprise from Washington Post journalists like this one:

He calls the statement quote “extraordinary.” You know what is more extraordinary? That Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosWSJ: Prosecutors obtain evidence linking leaked Bezos texts to girlfriend's family member Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Wyden asks NSA to investigate White House cybersecurity | Commerce withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon objects | Warren calls on Brazil to drop Greenwald charges Wyden vows push to force release of Khashoggi assessment MORE the world's richest man owns the Washington Post, the second most powerful newspaper in this entire country, and the entire news media tells us that when Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE or bernie sanders link that fact to the coverage of the newspaper, they're outlandish conspiracy theorists.

Jeff Bezos paid 250 million dollars for the Washington Post, in effect what he purchased, was the right to stop the 2nd most powerful newspaper in the United States from investigating his company Amazon and even better that he could use that company to hire people who share a similar ideology to his own which benefits his bottom line. Even better for Bezos, every aspiring journalist in the country wants to work at the New York Times or the Washington Post.

Every one of them will think twice before tweeting something negative about Bezos himself or investigating amazon at a different news organization. What I just laid out is worth hundreds of billions of dollars in benefit to the market cap of Amazon and Bezos personally, just as Bloomberg news neutralizing of negative coverage is a financial boon to him.

As friend of the show David Sirota noted after Bloomberg's announcement, every reporter covering 2020 knows that if they write a story scrutinizing Mike Bloomberg they risk enraging a person who owns a sizable segment of the media job market. It's a tough situation for journalists and not a great dynamic for democracy.

Corporate control of the media has turned our contemporary politics into covering the needs and wants of the most powerful people in this country. Perhaps it's time we think about whether it's appropriate at all to keep letting them do so.