Former newspaper publisher Conrad Black made some interesting observations about the media Sunday.
After telling CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, “I don't think the majority of Americans would be quite as enthused about this administration as you are,” he proceeded to offer his opinion as to "why Rush Limbaugh has 30 million listeners and the network newscasts have declined” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: So you have a few pages on Obama in the book, in the end of the book, and they're quite dismissive, I think. And what I wonder is if you were to look at it from the point of view…
CONRAD BLACK: I’m not dismissive. I would never, Fareed, I’ve never dismissed a President of the U.S. It's a great office and I always respect the holder of the office, the present holder and previous ones. I have to say I don't think the majority of Americans would be quite as enthused about this administration as you are. But I am certainly not dismissive of him. But I think that there have been some serious problems. And I think they don't start with him. But I think there is a leadership problem in the U.S. that has been going on for most of the time since Reagan retired.
The thing that worries me just as an example is that in the terrible year of 1968 with 550,000 draftees in Vietnam, 200 to 400 of them coming back dead every week, riots everywhere in the country - race riots and anti-war riots, assassination of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy - in that year, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Robert Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller, Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon all ran for president. And you can say lots about all of those people, but they were all qualified to be president. And I don't think the best candidates, for example, in the Republican Party ran in the election last year. And this, this is disturbing. And I don't think it has ever happened before in U.S. history.
And in my judgment, since you asked me, I think that there is a very large number of Americans that felt instinctively that the national media and the political establishment had unjustly destroyed a distinguished administration, which Mr. Nixon had in his first term, and had scuttled the effort in Vietnam and had never ceased to congratulate themselves for doing it. And the country is uneasy about that. I think that's why Rush Limbaugh has 30 million listeners and the network newscasts have declined.
For those unfamiliar with Black, he once controlled Hollinger International which published Britain’s Daily Telegraph, the Chicago Sun Times, The Jerusalem Post, Canada’s National Post The Sydney Morning Herald, and hundreds of community newspapers in North America.
In 2007, although publicly maintaining his innocence, Black was convicted of three counts of fraud, one count of obstruction of justice, and sentenced to six and a half years in prison. Two of the charges were overturned on appeal, and he was eventually released on May 4, 2012.
As for Black's comments, is he right about the press's treatment of Nixon being the catalyst for an American revolt against the mainstream media?
It will be interesting to hear Limbaugh's take on this.