Yet even if their net worth drops a bit, the tech oligarchs have more than enough money to subtly change the conversation. One primary way is to buy the financially stressed media, particularly the print side. Tech money in recent years has bought such venerable institutions as the New Republic and, most importantly, the Washington Post, putting the world’s richest man in charge of one of the nation’s most influential newspapers. More recently Laurene Powell, the left-leaning widow of the late Steve Jobs (net worth $20 billion), has scooped up the Atlantic for a nonprofit that will compete with more traditional competitors who still, sadly, have to make money.
Perhaps most important has been the move by Google, which is also promoting journalism by robots, to invest $300 million into subsidizing favored reporters. Given the generally poor condition of the business, this will be as alluring to many scribblers as a fat beef shank would be to a hungry dog.
Progressives might cheer, but if they are concerned about privacy, consider what the company’s former executive Chairman Eric Schmidt once told CNBC:”If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”