Opinion | The Autocrats’ Playbook – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

In 2009, Turkey’s tax ministry imposed a $2.5 billion fine for alleged tax evasion on Dogan Yayin, a media conglomerate whose newspapers and television stations were critical of the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Under financial and political pressure, the company began unloading some assets and closing others. Last month, the billionaire Aydin Dogan sold his remaining media properties, including the influential Hurriyet newspaper and CNN Turk, to a group of Erdogan loyalists.

Modern authoritarians rarely seize critical newspapers or TV stations outright. Instead, they use state power to pressure critics and reward friends. As Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, professors at Harvard, wrote in their recent book “How Democracies Die,” President Vladimir Putin of Russia turned the tax authorities on Vladimir Gusinsky, owner of an independent television network, NTV, which was considered bothersome. Gusinsky eventually signed NTV over to a government-controlled company. Under Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan authorities accused Guillermo Zuloaga, owner of Globovisión, a TV station frequently critical of the government, of illegal profiteering. In 2013, Zuloaga sold Globovisión to allies of Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro.

Now Donald Trump is going after Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post.

via Opinion | The Autocrats’ Playbook – The New York Times

Thank you Michelle Goldberg.  Here are the top three comments, which I endorsed.


Should Amazon have antitrust scrutiny? Yes. Should a sitting President ever publicly attack a great American business to cover up his own corruption? Lock him up.

Dave Thomas

I’d never would have thought America could be compared to a banana republic controlled by a demagogue, but here it is, April 2018, Trump is President, Rupert Murdoch controls a major television news network famous for spinning half-truths as “news,” two of the richest men in the U.S., the Koch Brothers, own Time Magazine and the Sinclair company operates scores of TV stations as if they were extensions of Putin’s state controlled Pravda. To a man raised on Walter Cronkite and Chet Huntley, during the journalistic period right after Edward R. Murrow and Walter Lippmann, this current state of American journalism is both unimaginable and frightening. When the nightmare of our American demagoguery ends let’s hope Murdoch, Koch and Sinclair all go down with Trump’s sinking ship of state.

Los Angeles, CA

Many of us who read the NYT and WaPo look at the Sinclair story and think somewhere in the back of our heads “that’s disturbing, I don’t watch those stations” and move on. But of course we all saw in 2016 what can happen to our democracy when many of our fellow citizens are so poorly informed and subject to a barrage of misinformation. It’s not somebody else’s problem any more.

About David Lindsay Jr

David Lindsay is the author of "The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth- Century Vietnam," that covers a bloody civil war from 1770 to 1802. Find more about it at TheTaySonRebellion.com, also known as, DavidLindsayJr.com. David Lindsay is currently writing about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction., as well as singing and performing a "folk concert" on Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction. He can be reached at daljr37(at)gmail.com.
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