By Kevin D. Williamson
The “failing” New York Times Company is earning about $30 million a quarter, and in the third quarter of 2017 alone it added more paid subscribers than either the Seattle Times/Post-Intelligencer or the Los Angeles Daily News has in total. National Review, the imminent demise of which President Trump has gleefully proclaimed more than once, is in a stronger position than it has been in years. Media companies less encumbered by print are thriving: There’s a reason Recode calculates Michael Bloomberg’s wealth at just shy of $50 billion. Bertelsmann, the books, media, and printing giant, made nearly $1 billion last year. The old dinosaurs seem to have some life left in them.
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One thing about which thoughtful progressives and conservatives generally agree is that institutions matter. It is important to have a First Amendment and other protections for a free press, but you also need the New York Times, National Review, Wired, CNN, and, the times being what they are, In Touch Weekly and its Stormy Daniels coverage — or else the First Amendment is only a hypothetical. The irreplaceable nature of functioning institutions is why we can’t just drop off copies of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence in Somalia and Afghanistan and expect to find thriving constitutional republics there a few years later. The right to a speedy trial doesn’t mean much if your courts are corrupt or inept. The right to petition the government for redress of grievances means nothing if the government is impotent or indifferent.