Friday, November 18, 2005
The Corporatization Of An Icon
You can’t go home again said Thomas Wolfe a very good author from just down the road a piece in Asheville, North Carolina. In his book of the same name he tells about the changes that communities and individuals go through during their lives. One of his main illustrations is the evolution of Corporate America as exemplified by Wall Street and the banking institution during the 1920’s.
Evolution is a fact of natural and corporate life. There is no general timeframe. Just as it varies with species in the natural world so it does with species in the corporate world. But the process has certainly accelerated in the corporate world during the past thirty years. It is not a given that all evolution is for the better. No better example exists than that of the media.
It had seemed if not immune at least resilient to the cancerous incursions of unlimited and uncaring growth of corporate theology. For almost 200 years, up until the mid-seventies the press had stood firm in its belief in and defense of the First Amendment. No better example exists than that of Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, and the Washington Post when they withstood a firestorm of attacks for their search for truth during the Watergate affair. It might be the media’s proudest moment.
That was then. We are all older now if not wiser. Men like Woodward were my heroes. They stood for all that was right with America. They showed that no man was above the law. Our nation had gone through more than a decade of upheaval trying to establish the equality of all men. Bob Woodward and those like him showed that maybe we really won.
That was then this is now, thirty years later. The press no longer stands for all that’s right with America. In fact in many ways it embodies all that’s wrong with America. The bottom line is no longer truth and justice, it is the dollar. The press evolved from fighting the good fight for what’s right to fighting for a good quarterly statement. Evolution is an ongoing process so it did not stop there. Now they are fighting for a higher daily stock price closing.
No better example exists of this than Bob Woodward. He has gone from a champion of truth to a champion of Corporate America. I am afraid this hurts me more than it does him. There are several lessons to be learned here. For me one is that we need to be aware than when we place someone on a pedestal they are not suddenly imbued with only perfect qualities they are, as always, only human. If they fail to live up to my expectations of perfection the fault lies with me not them.
For Bob, I hope he learns the importance of not giving up the idealism of our youth for the power and materialism of the corporate world. I hope he learns that we can not rest on the laurels of our past. When Humpty falls, “All the President’s Men” will not be able to put Humpty together again. But as any good newsman and writer like Thomas Wolfe knows no story is ever over, Bob can still correct his own.
The Bush Credo - No Sacrifice Is Too Great For Others To Make.
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