On Monday, it was announced that the Washington Post was being sold to Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. Here’s video of Planet Earth as the sale was occurring:
My colleague Ben Brophy has been cataloguing the hyperbolic encomiums of Post reporters in recent days. He briefly mentioned a column by Ruth Marcus that was published this morning. Marcus’s piece is titled, with characteristic understatement, “The Day Our Earth Stood Still,” and I want to quote it at greater length:
Don Graham’s decision to sell The Washington Post was his reverse Sophie’s Choice moment.
She had to decide which cherished child to save and which to send to the gas chamber. Don and the Graham family weren’t forced to make an anguishing choice but did so anyway. They relinquished the newspaper they love in order to protect it.
If the comparison sounds hyperbolic, you don’t know the Grahams.
I actually don’t know the Grahams, but I have worked at a newspaper and I understand, to a point, the gloom that some reporters are feeling this week. Print media is shrinking, the nature of news is changing, and thanks to the constant creative destruction of the Internet, none of us have any idea what it will ultimately end up looking like. The sale of the Post underscores those realities.
But Americans have been facing the consequences of a shifting economy for years now, which often come in the form of lost jobs, foreclosed homes, and relocation. The national debt is unfathomably high, cities are going bankrupt, and small-business growth has ground to a halt thanks to burdensome regulations and health care costs. Meanwhile the Post gets sold to a different owner and suddenly it’s the equivalent of sending loved ones to a crematorium. It’s similar to what happened with the sequester: The Beltway experiences a gentle lick of the recession it helped create, and all hell breaks loose.
At any rate, Ben Brophy and I have decided to embark upon a challenge. We’re going to head West, beyond what Washington radio stations call the “DMV”—D.C., Maryland, and Virginia; fittingly abbreviated as a comically incompetent government agency—and try to find one person, just one, who cares deeply about the fact that the Post has changed hands. Surely there’s a coal miner somewhere in West Virginia who will express concerns about his job security and the intrusion of environmental regulations, but then say all that pales in comparison to the fact that the Washington Post is now owned by someone else.
Just one. He’s got to be out there.