The media sold off its own temple last week and no one noticed.
A decade ago, a 643,000 square foot shrine to the media went up off the Washington Mall. The media funded organization behind it boasted that its Great Hall of News atrium was taller than the Sistine Chapel. The pseudo-religious metaphor continued with 50 tons of Tennessee marble being used to “create the First Amendment tablet on the building’s Pennsylvania Avenue façade”.
The thousands of artifacts included a 3,262 year old cuneiform brick from ancient Sumeria and a
2,756 year old statue of the Egyptian god Thoth, the mythical inventor of writing, worshiped by the media.
Last week, the $450 million temple constructed by the media to worship itself was sold off for $372 million to Johns Hopkins. There’s no word on whether they threw in the statue of their fallen god.
The fall of the media temple comes just as the media is on the defensive after fallout from a fake news hate campaign targeting a 16-year-old boy based on an out of context video clip. And the only thing that the media can say in defense of its lies about Covington Catholic is that it got them from social media.
That’s also its epitaph. The media doesn’t make the news. It’s just the noisiest part of the echo chamber, amplifying messages from lefty politicians from above and lefty social media trends from below.
The media temple was a project of the Freedom Forum. The Forum was backed by media giants like the New York Times, Bloomberg, Comcast, ABC, NBC and Time Warner. And much of the cash came from the Gannett media titan. In 1999, it commanded over $1 billion. By 2001, it was down to $700 million. Blowing through $450 million on a temple, complete with idol, couldn’t have helped.
The original Newseum had cost $50 million and offered free admission. The new Newseum was pure media hubris, stuck between the Capitol and White House as if it were another branch of government.
With a plethora of better museums to choose from, tourists to Washington D.C. weren’t interested in $24.95 tickets to see a news chopper suspended in the New York Times Ochs Sulzberger Great Hall’s atrium (taller than the Sistine Chapel). In desperation, the fake news museum even began selling a t-shirt carrying President Trump’s “You Are Very Fake News” taunt. Unlike most of its merchandise, the shirts were popular, but media protests soon put an end to the only popular thing about the Newseum.
And nobody was buying the Newseum’s t-shirts of Thoth; the dead idol of a dying industry.
Around the same time that the Newseum was selling its temple to the pagans of a useful profession, Gannett, which had once funded it, announced the layoff of as many as 400 employees.
The bloodshed is just beginning at the mammoth publisher responsible for USA Today and a massive portfolio of papers coast to coast, from the Detroit Free Press to the Arizona Republic to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (If you visit a local paper and its site looks like the USA Today site, it’s a Gannett paper.)
Gannett money had poured into the media temple in happier times. Its finances have been troubled this year. And now it’s in a bloody war with Tribune, another newspaper giant, and the winner of the hostile takeover campaigns will consolidate by cutting jobs and putting more Thoth worshipers out of work.
It’s been a cold winter for the media. The Huffington Post was hit with major layoffs after its corporate parent, Verizon, grew tired of subsidizing Arianna’s vanity lefty project. The casualties decimated HuffPo’s opinion section and filled social media with unintentionally hilarious tweets by ‘journalists’ specializing in gender politics, poverty inequality and culture looking for work.
BuzzFeed, fresh off its recent Trump fake news scandal, announced 15% layoffs. The casualties included the fake news site’s national news team and national security team. Lefty site Mic had already imploded. Bustle’s attempted relaunch of Gawker collapsed with a slew of resignations. The Forward fired its editor and dumped 40% of its staff after $5 million in losses.
And that’s just the very recent bad news for the news. The full list of bad news in just the last year, never mind the last decade, would take more space to tell than even the Newseum could accommodate.
If the media falls with no one to report it, does it make a sound?
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