Update: I added some backstory text that was inadvertently deleted from the original post; Please Re-read and enjoy!
The NYT, in rough financial straits, is borrowing heavily against its building to fund daily operations:
The New York Times Company plans to borrow up to $225 million against its mid-Manhattan headquarters building, to ease a potential cash flow squeeze as the company grapples with tighter credit and shrinking profits. . . Standard & Poor’s recently lowered its credit rating on the Times Company below investment grade, and Moody’s Investors Service has said it was considering a similar move. Times Company stock, which has lost more than half its value this year, closed on Friday at $7.64, down 30 cents.
Newspapers certainly are not too big to fail, but the New York Times Company does own sixteen newspapers and employ hundreds of people. Tribune media is already seeking bankruptcy protection; if the Times fails now, and its sixteen newpapers disappear, this could create a ripple effect throughout the entire mainstream media business sector. Even local media powerhouses like the Waterbury Republican-American could get dragged down by this subprime-like meltdown of the mainstream media. I delivered that newspaper as a young paperboy, and saved enough money to buy two Whitesnake albums and a chrome bumper for my 1969 Mustang Mach I. Shouldn’t every kid in this country have the same kind of opportunity? So what should the government do to save the New York Times company, its 16 newspapers, and the outmoded, underperforming newspaper sector in general? Three words: Salvage Thomas Friedman!
Tom Friedman is the Coca-Cola Classic of the New York Times Company’s columnists (not the New Coke!), he is a true heritage brand. But his reputation is a bit tarnished now, and he seems less sage-like, despite his efforts to rehabilitate himself with a suck-up/sell-out global warming book and bible verse referencing pro-Obama Op-ed. Friedman’s plight proves an old adage belived by many people left of the center: sometimes, even in a captialist system, you can’t do it all yourself; you need the government to help you. Friedman needs a bailout, and if you bailout Tom Friedman, you bailout the entire New York Times Company. The week after the inauguration is the opportune time for President Obama to award Friedman the Presidential Medal of Freedom, as written about previously. Restoring Tom Friedman to his pre-Iraq War-supporting glory does not burden the taxpayers, and it may have a cascading effect that sells newspapers and puts the Times on the road to solvency. Even Milton Friedman (no relation to Tom, by the way) the Lord rest his soul, might have approved of such a government intervention into the market.
Or the government could just say out of it, the New York Times might go under, and then we could all read blogs and stuff; I’m OK with that, too.