Schadenfreude: Mommy Warbucks shuts her purse on The Atlantic's lefty denizens
At a time when the news is filled with stories about small business–owners making humongous sacrifices to save their employees' jobs, and corporations and governments are running ads saying "we're all in this together," billionaire wifey investor Laurene Powell Jobs (estimated net worth: $32 billion), whose cash keeps the left-wing Atlantic Monthly afloat, has pulled a Bloomberg on the Atlantic Monthly staff and laid off a large number of them. Her minions did it just as unemployment hits double digits, so with the job market collapsed, these newly laid off staffers can get ready for new careers as Walmart greeters and Amazon deliverymen.
They're hopping mad about it. Here's Forbes:
Laurene Powell Jobs, the majority owner of The Atlantic magazine, is worth an estimated $19.5 billion — a gain of $3.1 billion since mid-March. Despite the gain, The Atlantic, the publication in which she has a controlling stake, announced plans this week to lay off 20% of its staff, making Powell Jobs the latest billionaire to face questions about obligations to workers in the face of a ruinous pandemic.
In a letter to the magazine's staff, chairman David Bradley said, "We are informing 68 of our colleagues that we will not have a place for them on The Atlantic's new course. The contraction affects mainly our events, sales, and editorial staffs." Bradley added that the company will freeze pay for its remaining staffers through the rest of the year, and that executives will take a pay cut.
The news stirred agitation on social media, particularly within media circles. "Laurene Powell Jobs, the billionaire majority owner of The Atlantic, is rich enough to be able to pay the salaries of all 68 laid off Atlantic staffers every year for the next 3,000 years," wrote Zach Schonfeld, a freelance writer and former Newsweek staffer, in one of many critical posts.
Layoffs are about par for the news industry, which is seeing horrific losses as ad revenue collapses. But for the denizens of The Atlantic, it's more bitter than for the others.
Unlike other people in the news industry, they thought they were shielded from those market forces. That's because instead of dreaded shareholders, Laurene was doing the financing herself through her lefty Emerson Collective. She drew a lot of gooey praise for it, and the Atlantic came to be viewed as a plum spot in journalism, a place where people like Anne Applebaum and David Frum and Ben Rhodes could go to write lefty columns. Here's the masthead. Laurene was there for all of them because she was sugar momma.
Here's one Atlantic Media naïf expressing that very confidence just two months ago on Glass Door:
No need to maximize quarterly growth for shareholders? This person thought Laurene Powell Jobs was the good guy and wicked shareholders were the problem. She'd protect them from dreaded market forces, see, because of all her money, and of course, because she was a lefty, which automatically made her "compassionate." He didn't know her very well.
Last time Powell Jobs was in the news, she had disinherited her own kids, pontificating against accumulated wealth — for other people, that is, not herself — and she was going to teach those kids that lesson. Could any employee really think he'd be treated more gently? Sink or swim — that's her only message to those around her. You're all dispensable.
Reality check for El Naivo: Laurene is the Ultimate Dreaded Shareholder, the shareholder of leftists' fevered imaginations, demanding her profit, goodwill be damned. Employees are just replaceable cogs in her mind, so easy to kick a few of them into the streets in a pandemic. She doesn't need anyone's goodwill or good opinion. Like billionaire Michael Bloomberg (estimated wealth: $60 billion), she appeared to be a sort of protection from market forces, but actually, she was quite a bit worse than the market force, which has some counterbalancing features such as the need to retain talent. Not her. And unlike Bloomberg, who at least paid them well while they were there, she paid them a pittance, lower than average salaries in the business, according to these Glass Door reviews, with Atlantic editorial fellows, a glorified intern position for some, a particularly exploited bunch. The review says they didn't even get their birthdays celebrated.
As for Laurene, pay no attention to that extra $3.1 billion she's accumulated into her shareholding portfolio just since the coronavirus lockdowns.
Fact is, if she really cared about her magazine's employees, she could easily cough up enough to keep them on payroll, particularly since they are low-paid. But she doesn't.
Like Michael Bloomberg, she's dined out on projecting the impression that she'd always be there to take care of her employees, quite impervious to market forces, and anyone lucky enough to get a slot at The Atlantic would be set for life. Better still, she's a lefty, so all the lefties flocked to her, the true conservatives were booted out, and the magazine itself became a wretched shadow of its former brilliant self, gobbled up in political correctness. Kevin Williamson, the National Review writer who had been poised to take a position there before he was drummed out on outrageous political correctness grounds, must right about now be thinking he dodged a bullet. The other lefties didn't.
That's why this is schadenfreude. Powell projected all the bad attributes of leftwingery and none of the purported generosity. Lefty billionaires in fact see themselves as exempt from human compassion, even as they present themselves as the wonderful alternative to capitalism. Ace, at Ace of Spades, has some additional skewerings here.
Well, now the staffers know about that. Powell of course is the bigger bad guy here than they are, but how they promoted this hag and her ideas against capitalism, thinking they would be protected. What a delusion that was. There's no one so cold-hearted out there as a far-left billionaire.
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