Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Scapegoats: The People In Fancy Suits

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2008 at 4:30 PM

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Tina Brown has an excellent, feeling-y piece on her Daily Beast today about media zombies, aka the "feckless bureaucrats" who we are very happy to blame for why scores of talented writers, editors, and journalists are being laid off right now.

As great newspapers, magazines, TV networks, and publishing houses dismember themselves around us, it would be marginally consoling if the pink slips were going to those who contributed so vigorously to their companies' accelerating demise—the feckless zombies at the head of corporate bureaucracies who cared only about the next quarter's numbers, never troubled to understand the DNA of the companies they took over, and installed swarms of "Business Affairs" drones to oversee and torment the people "under" them.

Yes! Tell us how you really feel! Somewhere, Sam Zell is vomiting newspaper ink and walking around like a soulless drone, his arms stretched out in front of him, his teeth bared, dancing over graveyards, and bellowing "fuck you" to any rude underling who dares to ask him a question.

What do cars, debt risk, and collapsing television networks have in common? The suits running them all lose sight of what they condescendingly call "product"—i.e., whatever it was that motivated the company's spirit of excellence in the first place. The trouble is, those guys and their appointees don't seem to be the ones who are leaving, do they? Indeed, the recession is giving many of them air cover. "It's not my fault, it's the times we live in."

At least they're nice enough to, like, forgo their bonuses, or whatever, after ruining everything for everyone. And now, the happy look-to-the-future streak of sunshine in midst of all this gloom and doom:

But perhaps in the turmoil the bones of original principles will emerge at last from under layers of dead skin and rotten management. Or perhaps the diaspora of talent will re-form and succeed while the companies who ejected them collapse and disappear.

Just like in Atlas Shrugged! No, seriously. Isn't that what she means?

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