Retiring op-ed columnist William Safire went out with a splash today, with the New York Times devoting its entire op-ed page to four sign-off essays by the former Nixon speechwriter, who has been its conservative voice for 32 years.
While Safire isn’t often our favorite editorial voice — nor even our favorite editorial voice at the Times — we salute him for his steadfast, eloquent (and losing) battle against the consolidation of media outlets that has resulted in a few corporate megaliths (General Electric, Viacom, News Corp., Disney, Time Warner, Gannett, Knight Ridder and Tribune Co.) controlling the form, flow and content of what passes for “news” in most American households.
In a scorecard that Safire gives himself on the results of his various journalistic crusades over three decades, he confesses that he got steamrolled by the forces that have converted too many major media outlets into minor divisions, at best, of huge corporate conglomerates:
Merger mania and antitrust wimps have allowed a dangerous giantism to bestride the worlds of media, energy and finance. Our voices calling for competition in the massive-media wilderness go unheeded; only some monopoly scandal or derivatives-driven collapse will awaken the public to the need to “break up the Yankees.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves — though both we, and our parent, the Columbia Journalism Review, keep trying to.