It recently occurred to me that, sometime in the next four to eight years, the New York Times will probably dissolve. That is, the world’s leading newspaper, founded in 1851, will be no more (or, equivalently, be reduced to yet another key chain fob of a certain rich guy).
My tl;dr reasoning is as follows:
1. The current existential war, begun in 2008, is People vs Corporations
2. During existential wars, some leading institutions dissolve
3. Internet killed the Newspaper star
4. For the first time in 170 years, the New York Times is on the wrong side of an existential war
I’ve been predicting this since 2003. But you don’t need to read my 17-year-old analysis. Just open your eyes and ears to the news of the day. Consider, for example, Bernie’s direct and unambiguous Medicare for All threat to the health insurance industry: “for those about to die, we don’t salute you”.
When Bernie wins Iowa a week from tomorrow, just know that you will hearing and watching wall-to-wall ads from the health insurance industry trashing Bernie on radio and TV.
Hey, if you were a shareholder of Blue Cross or Aetna or Cigna, what else would you expect from your risky investment?
This is a point illustrated and explained in one of the two books that led to to my 2003 prediction. That book is The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny.
In that book, the authors discuss existential wars faced by America, every 80 years or so. Lose any of these wars, and America ends. But prevail, and America progresses and prospers.
The existential wars in “American” history discussed by the authors, going backward in time are: the Great Depression/World War II (1929-1946), the Civil War (1860-1865), the American Revolution (1773-1794), the Glorious Revolution (1675-1704), the Spanish Armada Crisis (1569-1594), and the War of the Roses (1459-1487). (Given the last three were “English” wars, read the book to understand why they fit in this list.)
Simple pattern: if you, a great and powerful institution, find yourself on the “wrong side of history”, then sayonara sucker!
What does “wrong side of history” mean? In the Fourth Turning framework, it means being on the losing side of the existential war. Going backward in time, it means being a Nazi or oligarch in 1929-1946, being pro-slavery during 1860-1865, being a Brit loyalist through 1773-1794, ditto in 1675-1704, being a Spanish Imperialist between 1569-1594, and being down with the House of Lancaster around 1459-1487.
You be on “wrong side of history”, you be the Enemy, then you be dead.
This topic has been well-covered. But anyone who was alive and awake prior to 1990 remembers the great power wielded by dozens and dozens of American Newspapers “back in the day”. Every city and town had its own newspaper, and some had multiple.
But after 1990, with the birth of the popular Internet, these businesses started to fail. First in a trickle, then in a flood.
The collapse was so dramatic that by 2013, the richest person in the world was buying the formerly great, powerful and highly esteemed WaPo, founded in 1877, for pocket change.
The New York Times is one of a couple of remaining (barely) surviving, independent, (presumably) profitable American newspapers.
Until recently, I had subscribed to the New York Times for a couple of decades. Yeah, over the past few years, the paper’s pro-war stance and reactionary opinions would grate me. But the Magazine remained stellar, and the paper’s online comment threads gave us readers “the rest of the story” that the author was leaving out.
So year over year, I was reading the online New York Times as my main source of news and reading inspiration. That ended with the Bret Stephens “bed bug” fiasco. Because of how the NYT fumbled that disgusting fiasco, I canceled my long-time NYT subscription near the end of September.
My online-only subscription to the NYT had cost $16 per month. The same day that I canceled it, I began donating $17 per month to Bernie. I figured Bernie was worth at least a buck more than the NYT.
Over the past four months, the NYT has sent me 14 emails, offering me a deal: resubscribe for $1 per week! Offer ends Monday!
Now, I know that these are auto-generated mails. But someone somewhere in the NYT had to decide how long to send these mails post-cancellation. The last one they sent me arrived on Jan 15. Will it turn out to be it the last one?
I’m smelling the desperation of a failing business.
During the Civil War, the paper’s founder and owner was a key figure on the side of the anti-slavery North. Ergo, the right side of history.
During the Great Depression and World War II, the paper’s editor was solidly anti-Nazi. Ergo, the right side of history.
But in the present existential crisis, the paper is one of the most prominent voices on the side of the Corporations, and against the People. Ergo, the wrong side of history.
Given the NYT is still an independent paper, its anti-Bernie reporting is not quite so strong and strident as that of the captured and neutered WaPo.
But history will not be kind to the NYT being staunchly opposed to all five policies of the TYT pledge (the core of Bernie’s pro-People campaign). Nor will she smile at the NYT putting Sydney Ember on the Bernie beat, and Bari Weiss on the opinion page, just to mention two low-level but high profile pro-Corporate reporters.
So this is why I predict that, sometime during Bernie’s coming 8-year term (or 4-year term followed by his successor, if, say, his heart gives out early), the New York Times will either dissolve, or go the way of the sad, emasculated WaPo.
Of course, there is an alternative future. In that one, the NYT “successfully” conspires with the corrupt DNC to cheat Bernie once again, push forward Joe/Liz/Amy/Pete, and thereby ensure a Trump second term.
In that alter-scenario, the Corporations will have won, the People will have been defeated, and America will be no more. In that dystopian future, the NYT may survive as a rump paper serving the rump America of the Northeast, while we in California carve out our own independent, progressive future.
Good bye and good riddance.
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