Reviewing The Family, a history of the owners of the New York Times, veteran Times reporter John L. Hess (Extra!, 1–2/00) summarized the book’s account of how dynasty founder Adolph Ochs was able to purchase the paper in 1896:
How did Ochs, a virtual bankrupt from Chattanooga, persuade Wall Street to set him up with the moribund New York Times? Answer: The financiers were anxious to keep the paper alive as a Democratic voice against the populist Democratic candidate for president, William Jennings Bryan, who was stirring the masses with that speech about the Cross of Gold. Ochs bought a fine new suit, set up a fake bank account as reference, and persuaded J.P. Morgan and others to bankroll the purchase. His paper promptly pilloried Bryan, and Ochs marched with his staff in a businessmen’s parade against him.
It’s striking how more than a century later, the Times still plays the same role in Democratic politics—defending the party’s Big Money wing against populist encroachments. (See, e.g., FAIR.org, 7/29/13, 11/27/16, 6/23/17, 7/6/17.) But rarely has the paper’s pleading on behalf of elite interests in the Democratic Party been as frenetic as it has lately.
Last week, the paper published an op-ed by Douglas Schoen, “Why Democrats Need Wall Street” (10/18/17). Who is Douglas Schoen, you might ask? He’s billed by the Times as having been “a pollster and senior political adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 2000.” More relevantly to the current century, he’s a corporate PR consultant who works for the likes of Walmart, AT&T, Time Warner, Procter & Gamble and GlaxoSmithKline.
He has a side career as a commentator for mostly right-wing outlets like Fox News, Forbes and Newsmax, where his nominal relationship to the Democrats mostly serves to bolster his credibility when he attacks them—as in a series of columns he co-wrote in 2010–11 urging Barack Obama to step aside in favor of Hillary Clinton, only to declare in 2016 (The Hill, 10/31/16) that “I am not able, under the circumstances we are now facing, to vote for Secretary Clinton” (the circumstances being that “emails potentially pertinent to the Clinton probe had been found on Anthony Weiner’s computer”).
– Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting