Saturday, March 1, 2014

Jeff Bezos and the Imperial Paper; Washington Post’s prestige based on proximity to power

    Saturday, March 01, 2014   No comments

If the United States derived its might primarily from its economic power, the Washington Post would enjoy the same degree of international influence as, say, the Xinhua newspaper of Beijing. The two countries have roughly comparable outputs, with China’s GDP being about 80 percent the size of the US economy when adjusted for purchasing power, according to the IMF.
But a large part of what makes the United States a unique superpower is its role as the world’s military hegemon, reflected in part by its roughly 1,000 overseas bases. (China has none.)
It is this added power emanating from the Pentagon that helps confer an outsize authority to the opinion pages of the capital’s major paper. The Post’s status as a weathervane for the political winds of official Washington makes its views—unlike those of any other paper serving a city of a mere 630,000—virtually required reading for much of the world.

Billionaire Internet mogul Jeff Bezos seemed to understand this when he made his first foray into the industry by acquiring the Post, the go-to newspaper for Beltway policymakers, and not, for example, the Los Angeles Times, which boasts greater daily circulation.
And therein lies one underacknowledged key to understanding the Washington Post editorial board’s foreign-policy stances: As beneficiaries of the prestige and reach that come with worldwide US dominance, board members would just as soon advocate for policies that run counter to US power as they would trade places with their counterparts at, say, the Denver Post.
And yet this bipartisan support for Washington’s supremacy, which the Post mirrors, runs counter to the public will. A Washington Post blog post titled “Team America No Longer Wants to Be the World’s Police” (9/13/13) highlighted two polls showing that by a 2-to-1 margin, the US public disapproves of its government taking “the leading role among all other countries in the world in trying to solve international conflicts,” and disagrees that the US “should be ready and willing to use military force around the world.”

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