Warren Buffet is a wealthy man. He didn’t get all that money by being dumb, and he’s done an ingenious, if completely disingenuous and shameful, thing — by purchasing his powerful hometown newspaper media empire, The Omaha World Herald.
OMAHA, Neb. — Billionaire investor Warren Buffett plans to buy his hometown newspaper company, bypassing his misgivings about the industry with a $150 million deal that will end one of the industry’s last sizeable employee-ownership plans.
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway also agreed to assume $50 million in debt to acquire the Omaha World-Herald Co., he told the company’s flagship newspaper, The Omaha World-Herald. The amount employees will receive for each of their shares, which are not publicly traded, wasn’t disclosed.
We understand Buffet’s desperate want to control the immediate media surrounding his billion dollar Berkshire Hathaway babies — especially in the ongoing wake of the David Sokol affair — but buying ink by the barrel to cover the blood of your tracks is certainly morally reprehensible.
Don’t believe Warren Buffet won’t interfere with World-Herald coverage in some large or small way — the very fact that he owns the newspaper will be enough to send a communicable chill throughout the editorial newsroom. Even a “hands off” owner wields tremendous power and influence merely by signing paychecks with the same hands and paying for health insurance handouts of those who are supposed to serve the best interest of the public.
We know Warren Buffet cannot be trusted — his inept handling of the David Sokol scandal is small, public, proof enough of that — and when a wealthy man who claims to love anonymity and living in frugal shadows spends $150 million dollars to buy a newspaper media empire, you know he isn’t doing it for the goodness of his soul, or yours, he’s doing it because he sees protection in the paper and power in purchasing ink, and we, as the humble public, must always be alert to this sort of purposeful media manipulation because, in the end, we’re the ones who will wind up knowing less and paying more and wondering where all the truth tellers have gone.
I naively saw it as a romantic gesture of goodwill — Buffet saving his favorite newspaper from going under. I see I was mislead!
The World-Herald is a Midwestern monopoly. It’s the New York Times-West. It’s a money-making machine. Why else would Buffet sink that much money into a pit if there was no chance to pull his PR purposes?