The Washington Post has a long read on the man now in control of American political news site Politico, and it comes with the newsworthy snippet that Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner sent a rather bizarre email to his executive team "weeks" before the November 2020 elections.
"Do we all want to get together for an hour in the morning on November 3 and pray that Donald Trump will again become President of the United States of America?" he asked his team.
That the rich "entrepreneurial"-styled head of an international news company might have still been backing ridiculous clownburger Donald Trump—after transparently corrupt acts and a pandemic response that relied heavily on his clownburger son-in-law poking his nose into things before everyone lost all remaining interest—is not really news. Much of the news you read comes through the filter of right-leaning corporate owners who don't give a particular damn about anything but themselves and their personal cash flows, whether it be the Post's own worker-gouging Bezos or the unmitigated malevolence of the Murdoch clan. It's baked in.
The weirder part is that Döpfner apparently insisted quite boldly he had never sent such a message, right up until the Post showed him their copy of the email in question, after which he claimed he might have sent such a thing as "an ironic, provocative statement in the circle of people that hate Donald Trump."
You know, just to get a rise out of his own executives. As one does, when one wants to be a free-spirited provocateur.
The “I only did that to be an asshole” defense is itself usually a pretty solid one when it comes to any profile of any chief executive who has rapidly risen through the ranks and now stands on the top of the common rabble, and Döpfner might have had a shot at selling the Ironic Asshole Defense had the email not also contained a numbered list of Trump's supposed best accomplishments, aside from the being impeached for corruption and leading a staff of incompetent mostly-crooked buffoons through a campaign of screwing up any part of government any one of them was aware of.
"No American administration in the last 50 years has done more," wrote Döpfner after listing off successes like "defending the free democracies" against Russia(?), pressuring NATO to spend more money(??) and, of course, "tax reforms."
A complete failure to respond to worldwide pandemic disaster didn't make the cut of Döpfner's concerns, and whether or not Trump instituted a policy to intentionally separate refugee children from their parents is not worth mentioning. It just couldn't compete against the powerful success of "tax reforms."
The Post's profile of Döpfner is gawdawful familiar, even to the point of being rote. We're told that Döpfner's politics are hard to pin down, but that he thinks the Post and The New York Times have gone too far left while he is not a fan of conservative media's "alternative facts." He believes there is a nonpartisan path between the two, between "predictable political camps." He is an iconoclast, spending his money on "a collection of female nudes by female artists" rather than the usual yachts. He's not a fan of racism or homophobia, but as his plaudits for Trump's alleged successes show, neither is a dealbreaker.
Oh, and he calls Elon Musk "one of the most inspiring people" he's met, and the man’s son works for the fascism-promoting white-nationalist-boosting Peter Thiel, and it just happens that the two news outlets at the top of the company's German media empire are a hard-right skeevy tabloid and a not-as-hard-right mostly corporatist paper—an arrangement we here in America are already quite familiar with and do not find "hard to pin down" in the slightest.
By the time you're even halfway through, then, the Post story paints a picture of the sort of big-media iconoclast who is utterly rote at this point. Got it. He's a right-leaning new-money self-promoting entrepreneur type who wants to chart a path where rich people get lots of tax cuts, but we maybe don't burn his LGBTQ friends at the stake. He's here to revamp journalism around a version of centrism that thinks Donald Trump was doing a bang-up job when he was scooting around the world dragging his bare ass on the carpets while not giving a particular damn about the crooked parts or the authoritarianism.
We heard this biography when it was about Musk. Or about Thiel. Or when Andrew Yang declared that all this fuss over hard-right fascism and not-fascism was super-super partisan and what the world needed instead was a new party that didn't care about such things and instead cared about whatever Andrew Yang cared about—cryptocurrencies, maybe. We heard it when it was the Starbucks guy who wanted to run for president on the same platform.
This isn't being a maverick. This is the most bog standard of all possible Rich Person Political Stances. This is the utter, magnificent laziness of men at the top of their profession quickly coming to decide that Politics Itself is wrong and that they, uniquely and truly, are the ones who can see through the nonsense and give us a nice, semi-fascist middle ground.
Jeebus Cripes, this is Great Gatsby stuff. New Wealth Fixes The World is what Ayn Rand choked her pages with. This sort of nihilistic I-can't-be-defined-by-your-politics hokum is the essence of every "tax cuts for rich people, marijuana for the poor people" college libertarian rant—and the people in charge of the world love this vapidity. Each of them is convinced they, personally, may have invented it.
We get it. The moment a certain kind of man gains elevated wealth and power, they can't rest until the rest of the world knows that it's because they have the brain to solve all problems, and the answer they come up with every last time is: A middle position! One where both sides agree that I get tax cuts and we compromise down the middle on the fascism and book-burning and whatnot!
I mean ... whatever. The Post is doing us a service in showing us that time after time, the leaders of all the stuff you watch and read are, for the most part, vapid people who rose through the ranks of other vapid people to become the new earls and dukes of vapidity, but there’s not a lot of divergent thinking among any of them. Is there any question that newspapers find people to own newspapers to be the cleverest and most interesting people in the world? Are you surprised when a new network head is feted by the rest of the industry as having a bold new take on things that only looks exactly the same as the previous take to you because you aren't a media visionary?
Eh. Seriously though, to write a letter boosting Donald Trump for overseeing corporate tax cuts in the fall of 2020, with half a million American pandemic dead, a prior impeachment over corruption, and a list of accomplishments that can best be described only as a campaign of international blowhardism: The new head who will be steering Politico into yet another vision of wealth-backing neutrality seems to have spent a lot less time on his political stances than he has on his art collection. Can't all these iconoclasts follow their hearts, building space yachts shaped like naked women or whatever it is animates them without dragging the rest of us into it? Why dip yourself into politics at all? If all you want are tax breaks, sure, whoever develops a new space program gets a tax break. Whoever figures out a way to keep the state of Florida above water when Greenland's ice sheets collapse gets a tax break, and we'll rename Miami to whatever new name you want.
We'll agree to that if you all stop telling us how your own indifference to the slow dismantling of world democracies amounts, when balanced against new tax policies, to a heretofore unseen and brilliant Third Way. Gawd, just stop already.