Call It the Safire Indicator?

You know that a particular issue is getting traction with the broader public when the New York Times’ crusty old conservative commentator opines on it… and he agrees with you.

William Safire’s Sunday column is “On Media Giantism,” where he comes down squarely against loosening media ownership restrictions. In fact, his leading complaint is that newspapers and other mass media aren’t covering the issue of media concentration, although he concedes that USA Today has published an article.

But I’ll point out that the USAT article — and articles in the New York Times, for that matter — all appeared in the business pages, not as part of the general national news. Where and how a story is covered is almost as important as whether it is covered in the first place.

In advocating against lifting media ownership restrictions Safire, of course, takes an admitted “pro-business” approach:

“But while political paranoids accuse each other of vast conspiracies, the truth is that media mergers have narrowed the range of information and entertainment available to people of all ideologies.

Does this make me (gasp!) pro-regulation? Michael Powell, appointed by Bush to be F.C.C. chairman, likes to say ‘the market is my religion.’ My conservative economic religion is founded on the rock of competition, which — since Teddy Roosevelt’s day — has protected small business and consumers against predatory pricing leading to market monopolization. “

While I’ll never become a Safire ally, I can’t argue much with his reasoning, and only hope that his writing about it will wake up a few more people.






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