Look back, move forward

In his 3-05-09 post “Probe the Past to Protect the Future,”  Washington DC business-advocate- returned-investigative journalist Andrew Kreig says that the idea that the country should look forward without addressing the wrongs of the recent past is  “nonsense”.

He writes: As always,  justice starts by a review of the evidence. ‘Sunshine is the best disinfectant,’ Supreme Court Justice Louis Bandeis famously said. But pest control is useful too.  Either way, strong measures are required to build public confidence for legitimate initiatives on such complex questions as which companies are “too big to fail,” and which ones should pay the price for their terrible decisions.”

The media are unlikely provide much insight,  he implies.

Their income stream is increasingly dependent on affiliated businesses and not on serving subscribers. The major TV networks,  for instance, make virtually nothing form direct customer billings via cable and satellite, although many in the public naively assume that they’re being served via a “marketplace of ideas.”

In fact, traditional and new media alike depend heavily on the goodwill of government officials, plus advertising. The financial reports of the Washington Post, for instance, show that since 2007, it has been making more than ten times its revenue from its education industry affiliates as from its Post subscriptions,  new media are more entrepreneurial and increasingly broader-based in consumer appeal, many of their roots are in fairly recent federal Internet research and privatization policy–and many of their futures are highly dependent on favorable regulation, merger approval and stimulus spending.

Kreig calls for transparency in the Obama Administration’s decisionmaking process and for vigorous public pressure to ensure that current Congressional investigations into allegations of Bush Administration wrong-doing are not just for show.

I’m not anxious to delve back into the murky recent past and don’t relish the possibility of investigations, indictments, or imprisonments. Bytemperament, like Obama,  I’d rather move forward and let it all go.  But as George Santayana said, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  I do think it’s important to find out why things went so wrong in hopes that we never have to go through times like those–or these–again.

AMH

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA.



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0 comments for “Look back, move forward

  1. Andrew Kreig
    March 17, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Dear Anita:
    Thank you for your pro-active, very thoughtful comment, especially about an essay that was for the most part on a sufficiently abstract level so as probably to bore most people! However, I have some very particular instances in mind about pre-meditated abusive conduct involving official corruption — conduct that hurts people, the economy and our freedoms that we enjoyed for many years. I’d be more specific, but I’m working on bringing some things out in a more comprehensive way. But I did want to thank you, and for what it’s worth suggest the thought that the people who are doing these things have counted on — as part of their risk-benefit equation — the good nature of a forward-looking public. For what it’s worth, my thesis is that all justice has a backward-looking component, but that’s because it’s a vital part of the deterrance process.
    Thanks!
    Andy

    • anharris
      March 17, 2009 at 8:37 pm

      Andy, I think you’re making important points. I’m glad that someone with both deep business/government knowledge and strong reporting skills is looking into things. Anita

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