The Odd Couple
It’s a cheeky question, I know, but is Conrad Black to American commerce what Sanjaya Malakar is to American entertainment? The parallels between the pilloried peer of the realm and the pilloried American Idol contestant are eerie. They both favour wacky costumes (if you count Sanjaya’s hair as part of his “costume”). They both have an almost cartoonish (some might say touching) deficit of self-awareness. And it might be argued that they are both pawns in a bigger game rigged to make each look in his own way a fool—or worse. Saturday’s New York Times laid out in detail a plot by the always mischievous Howard Stern to hijack and possibly derail the American Idol juggernaut. Stern has over the last while encouraged his listeners to vote for the painfully off-key Malakar in an effort to destroy the show’s credibility. Fox, spurred by the fact that Malakar has remained on the show weeks after its own judges recommended against him, felt compelled to respond to all this by saying that Stern’s efforts in no way distorted the results of the voting. Uh-huh.
As for Conrad Black, last week The Wall Street Journal ran a column stating that, had the government not interfered, the market would have addressed the Hollinger situation without recourse to the courts. “What’s missing today is the universal solvent of a lively expectation that hostile takeovers can befall managements that hog too much value for themselves. Unfortunately, legal and regulatory changes have made these all but impossible. Yet hostile takeovers were a far more productive way of closing the circle of accountability than the corporate governance wrecking ball aimed at Hollinger has proved to be.”
Isn’t that always the way: rugged individualists brought low by dark forces (in this case the United States government and the equally powerful Howard Stern) bent on thwarting the will of the people?