Two news items caught my eye at lunch just now. The first was the FCC OKing the purchase of Clear Channel, the big radio and TV station owner, "by private-equity companies Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners."
Bain Capital... Mitt Romney's Bain Capital? Yep. The deal had been announced back in November, but just got finalized today.
So, here you have a guy seriously in the hunt for the presidential nomination as a partner in buying the biggest network of radio stations in the country.
The other somewhat related news item was the fall of the current Italian government; PM Prodi lost a confidence vote in the Italian Senate. What does that have to do with Mitt Romney and Clear Channel? Well, the opposition leader, conservative former (and likely future) PM Silvio Berlusconi, is a media magnate. Here's a summary from his Wikipedia page-
Berlusconi is the founder and main shareholder of Fininvest, among the ten largest Italian privately-owned companies, operating in media and finance including three national TV channels. Together these account for nearly half the Italian TV market. He owns three (out of seven) national television channels as well as some of the country's most important newspapers. He is also well known for being, since 1986, the president of A.C. Milan, a prominent Italian football team.
The best analogy I can think of is to cross Ted Turner and Rudy Giuliani, giving him Turner's media holdings pre-sale-to-Time-Warner and Atlanta Braves teams with Rudy's politics, attitude and love life (he was having kids with the lady who would become wife #2 before divorcing wife #1). His party's name, Forza Italia, would loosely translate as "Let's Go, Italy;" it replaced the old Christian Democrats as the main party of the center-right.
He's been able to have political coverage slanted in Forza's direction, which gives the Italian left no little bit of consternation.
Would the Bain-held Clear Channel do that, slant their news coverage Romney's way? Probably not, but the question would be posed.
Any slanting might not be that blatant; it might be that the news-talk stations in their flock tend to keep the talkers in the Rush-Hannity universe that tends to stick to a conservative Republican line and away from various heterodox thoughts, be it various liberals or maverick conservatives.
That might make business sense as well as political since, since the primary motivation for the purchase is to make a buck. This isn't going to evolve into an Air America of the right, for the right doesn't need it; conservative talkers seem to do better in ratings than liberal talkers, and radio station's favorite color isn't red or blue, it's green.
I channel surfed into Rush on my way back from campus this afternoon, and he was pooh-poohing that other Sullivan's (other than my big bosses) piece stating that the race was McCain versus Rush. However, it seems to be boiling down to McCain versus the new owner of one of Rush's major patrons; quite a few Clear Channel stations carry El Rushbo.