Commentary — July 17, 2007, 5:46 pm

Archive Highlights: Conrad Black

“Black facing rest of life in prison, say experts,” The Daily Telegraph, July 17, 2007

While a United States government prosecutor suggested in court last week that, by “conservative” estimates Black was facing 15 to 20 years in jail after being convicted of fraud and obstruction charges, those familiar with similar trials say he can realistically expect an even stiffer sentence . . .

In emails to the Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada at the weekend, Black said: “We move on to the next phase in this long war. We got rid of most of [the charges], and expect to get rid of the rest on appeal. I feel like a soldier conscripted for a foreign war. You fight till you win, and then you come home.”


Kevin P. Phillips, “Busting the media trusts,” July 1977:

In a March speech to the Houston Press Club, former Treasury Secretary John Connally argued that the nation’s major media conglomerates should be viewed not just as unprecedented power centers, but as “massive business empires built by entrepreneurs under the shelter of our free enterprise system.” This may represent an important and valid shift in the customary criticism of the press. Those who believe that government policy on media can continue to be shaped around eighteenth-century images of a persecuted John Peter Zenger clutching his twelve-shilling printing press simply ignore postindustrial economics (which, I might add, such people are normally the first to remember in other policy-making contexts–from national economic planning to solar heating–that do not involve their own vocational self-interest).

Ideally, recognition of new “massive business empires” can focus debate on reducing media concentration to a safer size by traditional legal and economic policy. After all, it has been possible in the past to regulate such emerging economic forces as railroads, trusts, banks, and public utilities. Otherwise if the major media corporations continue to grow and wax self-righteous, putting one politician on the skids and another on the payroll, they are likely to run afoul of the late Adolf Berle‘s perceptive observation that when business threatens to engulf the state, it forces the state to engulf business. Myopia-cum-hypocrisy is usually self-defeating. In today’s context, we can postulate that if the communications business threatens to engulf the values, culture, and careers of voters and politicians, it will force the state to engulf the communications business. That messy prospect is not going to occur next year, but the angry questions already have begun to be asked.

Harper’s Index, December 1997:

Portion of Canada’s 105 daily newspapers that are owned by Conrad Black : 1/2

“A Newspaper Man,” “Sell the Papers! The Malady of American Journalism,” June 1925:

In our Washington news we were not fed one day on White House propaganda that the President will “press for” such and such a measure, and on Senate committee-room propaganda the next day that such and such a group of Senators will resist pressure. Instead, we were given a coherent account of what each public measure of consequence was about, and a brief analytical discussion, when the event warranted it, of the struggle over its passage. I can get a far more satisfactory idea from our six and eight-page paper of what the Fifty-first Congress was up to than I can to-day from our twelve to fifty-page paper of what the Sixty-eighth Congress is up to. Except for the fact that I was only a year old at the time, I could have written better informed political editorials in 1890.

Nicholas Fraser, Le Divorce: Do Europe and America have irreconcilable differences?, September 2002:

For some weeks, Conrad Black’s Daily Telegraph printed samples every day of opinion opposed to the Afghan war under the title “Useful Idiots.” When I spoke to Lord Black of Crossharbour, as Conrad Black has recently become, shedding his Canadian citizenship to dignify the British House of Lords with a neoconservative presence, he was proud of having sponsored such onslaughts. Burly, elegantly dressed in his so-English pinstripes, he spoke unstoppably of the cowardice and dishonesty of the European upper class. “You have to take a long view,” he said. “In two hundred years America has gone from being a colony barely larger than Greater Baltimore to the status of uncontested world power. Start from the premise that anti-Americanism is a terrible and classic, conventional case of envy–and the envy is hidden behind a posture of moral disapproval. It’s so easy to blame Americans for having everything. Even the British are not immune to such feelings.”

Emails by Lord Conrad Black presented as evidence at his trial in Chicago, “Peer Pressure,” June 2007:

I’m not prepared to reenact the French Revolutionary renunciation of the rights of the nobility. We have to find a balance between an unfair taxation on the company and a reasonable treatment of the
founder-builder-managers. We are proprietors, after all, beleaguered though we may be . . .

We have a certain style that all these shareholders were aware of when they came in. We should fine-tune that style, not revolutionize it with a damascene conversion to vows of poverty . . .

Two years from now no one will remember any of this.

Single Page

More from Harper’s Magazine:

Mentions July 16, 2014, 7:00 pm

“The End of Retirement” on MSNBC

Watch Jessica Bruder on MSNBC’s The Cycle

Official Business June 25, 2014, 8:00 am

Garry Winogrand at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

A retrospective exhibition from June 27 to September 21 in New York City

Heart of Empire, Mentions June 20, 2014, 11:41 am

Andrew Cockburn on Democracy Now

Andrew Cockburn discusses the origins and possible fate of Nouri al-Maliki’s prime ministership

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada



September 2014

Israel and Palestine

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Washington Is Burning

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On Free Will

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

They Were Awake

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content


Where Israel and Palestine can go from here, Washington D.C.’s enduring legacy of racial strife, Edward O. Wilson on free will, and more
"Policymakers, recognizing the growing influence of civil disobedience and riots on the direction of the nation, had already begun turning to science for a response."
Illustration by Richard Mia
Israel and Palestine·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If Israel believes it needs to make a wall eight meters high between us and them, let them have it eighty meters high. Under one condition: It has to be on the international border.”
Photograph (detail) © Ali Jadallah / APA Images / ZUMA Wire
On Free Will·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Philosophers have labored for more than two thousand years to explain consciousness. Innocent of biology, however, they have for the most part gotten nowhere.”
Collage (detail) by Frederick Sommer
Astra Taylor on The People’s Platform·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Taking back power and culture in the digital age
“There’s a pervasive and ill-advised faith that technology will promote competition if left to its own devices.”
Photograph © Deborah Degraffenried

Chances that an applicant to a U.S. police force in 1992 was found to be “overly aggressive” on psychological tests:

1 in 2

Engineers funded by the United States military were working on electrical brain implants that will enable the creation of remote-controlled sharks.

Malaysian police were seeking fifteen people who appeared in an online video of the Malaysia-International Nude Sports Games 2014 Extravaganza, and Spanish police fined six Swiss tourists conducting an orgy in the back of a moving van for not wearing their seatbelts.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!


In Praise of Idleness


I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today