Audit Notes: Stuart Varney, German papers, Pando garbage

The Fox anchor tries on the Lou Dobbs faux-populist mantle, fails

Media Matters catches Fox Business’s Stuart Varney in a viler-than-usual moment calling in to a radio show (emphasis mine):

HOWELL: Do you think that federal workers, when this ends, are deserving of their back pay or not?

VARNEY: That is a loaded question isn’t it? You want my opinion? This is President Obama’s shutdown. He is responsible for shutting this thing down; he’s taken an entirely political decision here. No, I don’t think they should get their back pay, frankly, I really don’t. I’m sick and tired of a massive, bloated federal bureaucracy living on our backs, and taking money out of us, a lot more money than most of us earn in the private sector, then getting a furlough, and then getting their money back at the end of it. Sorry, I’m not for that. I want to punish these people. Sorry to say that, but that’s what I want to do…

Who is this “us,” white man?

The highest-paid federal employee is President Obama, who makes $400,000 a year. You can bet Varney makes far more than that. Reporters at Fox News can make much more than that. Meanwhile, the average federal employee makes $78,000.

But Varney wants to punish them—folks who have absolutely nothing to do with the Republican-caused shutdown, as one of the radio hosts notes:

JACOBSON: But it’s not their fault. It’s not the federal employees’ fault. I mean, that’s what I’m sick of, I hate and it makes me anxious, to see people who are victimized because of a political fight.

VARNEY: I take your point Amy, it is not directly their fault, but I’m looking at the big picture here. I’m getting screwed. Here I am, a private citizen, paying an inordinate amount of money in tax. I’ve got a slow economy because it’s all government, all the time. And these people are living on our backs, regulating us, telling us what to do, taxing us, taking our money, and living large. This is my chance to say “hey, I’m fed up with this and I don’t miss you when you’re on furlough.” Sorry if that’s a harsh tone, but that’s the way I feel.

If Varney thinks he pays an inordinate amount of tax in the US (an extremely low-tax country), he might want to think about how much more he’d pay if he still lived somewhere else. Like, say, his native Britain.

And I can’t mention Stuart Varney without re-running his obsequious interview with Rupert Murdoch:

— Ken Doctor visits Deutschland and finds the Internet finally catching up with the German newspaper industry:

That sobering realization about ad revenue now guides the construction of paywalls throughout the country, and even new thinking about ad-free premium products.

“We are starting to ask the question about a paper without ads,” says Thomas Schultz-Homberg, the head of the digital media business at FAZ, or Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of the nation’s two leading business dailies, with a daily circulation of 320,000. “What should this cost to run it profitably? What we are thinking is that it is 80 or 90 euro a month. Maybe there will be an audience that is still addicted to the paper.”

That’s a novel idea in its purity. How much would readers — themselves — have to pay to sustain a daily newspaper, without advertising? It’s a question, amazingly, that is starting to be asked in Germany, and maybe soon in the U.S.

Here’s an interesting stat: In Germany, newsrooms are 30 percent of an average newspaper’s expenses. In the US, the journalists are just 13 percent of what a paper spends$mdash;20 percent if it’s a top paper, Doctor says.

— This article reads like it was written by Fake Jeff Jarvis. Actually it’s beyond parody.

Anyway, get a load of this garbage published by Pando Daily (but I repeat myself):

When anthropologists look back over the ruins of human civilization after the Martians land and give us back the Curiosity Rover, one thing they might marvel at is how brands stopped being brands and started being community journalists for pockets of civilizations that puddle around values.

Journalists will have gone extinct - many of them having tired of being paid advertisers for rich folks, or the brands they love. People will have stopped using newspapers. And started doing things for themselves.

But men and women who made it their job to figure out what the community needs will have etched out a space in memory. They will be able to have secured a narrative arc for the community they served and the brand that listened to it.

And the kicker, which sends the bullshit meter all the way to 11:

As you are flipping through the sound bites tonight about Syria or other war panic, think to yourself about what the story for your civilization should be.

I bet it doesn’t look like fear, or loathing. It looks like the people you love and work with, articulated faces in the stream of human progress. And that will often come from the sources, and in many cases, that means it’ll be coming from brands.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,