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.”

davidsuterpen

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.

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Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student — a student, in his twenties — had taken over an entire field of study, linguistics, and stood it on its head and hardened it from a spongy so-called “social science” into a real science, a hard science, and put his name on it: Noam Chomsky.

At the time, Chomsky was still finishing his doctoral dissertation for Penn, where he had completed his graduate-school course work. But at bedtime and in his heart of hearts he was living in Boston as a junior member of Harvard’s Society of Fellows, and creating a Harvard-level name for himself.

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