Who speaks for the elite?

A number of you have asked to discuss something about recent economic news, so here goes.  Regardless of whatever rhetorical charges are made against the New York Times for bias, the real role of the Times is as a guardian for the U.S. elite  (just look at the ads).  Many years ago, an analysis by Prof. Peter Dreier of the interconnections among key U.S. news media companies and other corporations showed that the Times, Wall St. Journal and Washington Post company were the most thoroughly interlocked with the “power structure.”  How do you explain then the actions by these organizations to challenge the government with reporting on the Pentagon Papers and Watergate?  In Dreier’s analysis it was precisely the need of these media organizations, acting on behalf of the deeper societal interests, to protect the best long-term interests of the U.S. government (not acting on momentary partisan motives). 

Big insurance companies once played such a role, as the most central entities in the network of corporate structure. They were central because they necessarily took the decades-long view of the best core interests of the capitalist system.  The failure of insurance giant AIG suggests that something has changed.  Rising debt (and foreign borrowing) brought on by politically popular tax cuts coupled with stable social costs, along with the impersonal drive for larger and larger profits has yielded riskier unregulated markets.  The current crisis drives home the need for someone to help mind the core preservation role of protecting the system from itself.  I can only speculate that the weakened legitimacy of key elite media institutions such as the Times and Post have made it more difficult to reach consensus from within the inner core of the system.

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