Washington Post Super Bowl ad: Democracy dies in darkness, you know

Was this even supposed to air last night? It sounds like Bezos paid his millions for the spot with a different ad in mind, then had to call an audible due to his tabloid scandal and threw this together at the last second.

Not a bad idea for the world’s richest man to buy some goodwill from the media, though, at a moment when “rich people shouldn’t exist” is becoming mainstream Democratic thought.

Jeff Bezos pulled the plug on a $20 million Super Bowl ad for his spaceflight company, Blue Origin, after it was revealed his mistress had helped shoot footage for the commercial, sources told Page Six.

Instead, the Amazon owner had a last-minute commercial created for his Washington Post, with some all-star narration by Tom Hanks.

TV insiders said Bezos nixed the space exploration ad when his affair with Lauren Sanchez went public. Sanchez, a former TV anchor and helicopter pilot, has been shooting aerial footage of Blue Origin rocket launches and landings for Bezos.

It’s a strange irony that this ad aired at a moment when the biggest story running about America’s journalism industry is layoffs. BuzzFeed recently cleaned house, as did Vice Media, Gannett, McClatchy and others. The most common reaction I saw to the ad last night on social media was to wonder how many salaries of those now unemployed reporters Bezos’s ad outlay might have covered instead.

But then, that’s fitting: Journalism’s many, many celebrations of itself tend to obsess about the trade as it aims to be rather than the realities of what it is. My strongest impression of the ad, which really does look like it could have been put together in 15 minutes if not for the A-list Tom Hanks narration, is how it focuses on foreign correspondents, particularly those killed or kidnapped in war zones. That’s like running an ad to celebrate the federal government and showcasing only the military. Foreign correspondents are the most admirable members of the media because their jobs are genuinely dangerous and their chief value lies in fact-gathering, the essence of news. Ask someone why they loathe the media and it’s not the Times’s Syria field reporter they think of, it’s the people who muster restraint over Ralph Northam’s infanticide comments on grounds that they’re highly nuanced, even un-newsworthy, but were only too eager to pounce on the first video clips from Nathan Phillips’s confrontation with the Covington kids. They’re biased, often frivolous, and too susceptible to a herd mentality that’s on display on Twitter hourly as they read and react to each other’s takes. Too much heat, not enough light. That’s part of the reason why there’s more darkness right now than democracy should have to put up with.