Plundering Employee Pensions and Promoting Plutocracy

December 13th, 2012 · 1 Comment · economy, financial coverage, journalism, labor

By Arthur Alpert

Boomers, I have read, feel nostalgic about Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and other Hostess company snacks. Me, I’m too old to partake of either the food or sentiment. So I’m perpetrating this third post on the Albuquerque Journal’s misreporting of Hostess’ dissolution only because there’s a new development that teaches us more about New Mexico’s largest daily.

We’ll get there, but first let’s recap for those who came in late.

I alerted you Nov. 27 to the Journal’s Business Page account of Hostess’ demise which blamed it on the bakery workers’ strike and included only management’s version of events.

The Wall Street Journal story did not blame labor for Hostess’ fall. Also, it cited management mistakes, the role of the corporation’s (enormous) debt and failure to adjust to consumers’ changing tastes. The WSJ also recounted what both management and the unions said.

The difference between the newspaper accounts, I suggested, was a reminder that there exists a wall between editorial and news operations at the WSJ.

My second post, Dec. 6, testified to piling on by the Journal’s editors, who complemented the original skewed news story with two anti-labor opinion columns.

The learned George Will somehow overlooked the “vulture capital” aspects of the Hostess story in his essay.

The second originated from an outfit called the Center for Union Facts whose pedigree the editors omitted and of which I’d never heard.

Turned out, it’s still another corporate front dedicated to weakening organized labor. Credit its founder and boss with lobbying for Big Tobacco, too.

Oh, and – I’m not making this up – he created an organization to combat MADD!

Yes, those reprehensible Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Enough background, onward to new business.

Still on the story, the Wall Street Journal reported (prominently and at length) Monday, Dec. 10:

“Hostess Brands, Inc. said it used wages that were supposed to help fund employee pensions for the company’s operations as it sank toward bankruptcy.”

Wow!

Of course, the Albuquerque Journal didn’t carry a word of it.

I say “of course” because we shouldn’t be surprised. Our daily’s passion for assailing organized labor is matched by its blindness to how major employers operate, what’s dysfunctional in our business system or corporate America’s politics.

Why? Well, I presume ownership and management favor plutocracy – e.g., government of, by and for the Koch brothers and allies. (That would explain the newspaper’s reluctance to report on those brothers and tallies.)

Further, and here there can be no doubt, management sees nothing wrong with tilting its opinion pages to advance that editorial agenda.

Finally, management makes news decisions to further the same agenda – in perfect, egregious defiance of decent journalistic practice.

If that reasoning is correct, it would follow that aggressive, critical reporting on business – the way the Journal tackles government, say – would be counter-productive.

If you’re out to promote plutocracy, you wouldn’t besmirch those atop the hierarchy, you would burnish them.

And the heck with decent journalistic practice!

PS Amazing, isn’t it, where Twinkies and Ding Dongs can lead?

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Cheryl Everett

    So true! And it’s even worse in Rio Rancho, where City government and the corporate plutocracy were inseparable until three new Councilors were elected in 2012. The three (and a fourth who previously was alone in supporting fiscal responsibility and open government) are now under relentless attack by the old political machine ~ worthy of a scene from “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”). Journal editor Sharon Hendrix refuses to publish letters from the public unless they support the machine and its agenda. Journalist Sam Donaldson remarked at a NMFOG awards ceremony a few years back: “There is a second language that is seldom spoken in Rio Rancho. It’s called the truth.”

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