Friday, August 9, 2013

Brave and Selfless?

Trey Smith

The newspaper world was stunned this week when it was announced that the Graham family has sold the Washington Post to Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos. A former editor of the Post, Marcus Brauchli, had this to say: "A brave, selfless act, as hard as any, done with dignity and from loyalty."

As owners, it is their right to sell it. I don't have any qualms about that. But to describe this sale as "brave" and "selfless" is a bit much. The Graham family made $250 million in the process. Unless they plan to give all the proceeds to the poor, there are 250 million reasons why this was not a selfless act!

When Ben and Jerry sold their ice cream business to Unilever in 2000 for $345 million, that wasn't selfless. When Arianna Huffington and her associates sold The Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million, that wasn't selfless either. And the same is true when Al Gore and Joel Hyatt sold Current TV this year to Al Jazeera for a cool $500 million.

Like I wrote above, I don't begrudge these owners for deciding to sell an asset. I just have a major issue with calling them selfless. You can't be considered selfless if the act itself results in you swimming in egregious amounts of moolah.

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