Patronage and Journalism

At the end of an item on the spectacular sums of money Portfolio seems to have burned through, Mickey Kaus remarks:

P.S.: Meanwhile, everybody’s being very nice to David Bradley, the last benign sucker willing to lose millions overpaying journalists for the right to distribute their prose on glossy paper. …

Having worked for Bradley at The Atlantic, I don’t think it’s right to see him as a “sucker.” He likes that as chairman of Atlantic Media he gets to have a lot of smart people treat him with a great deal of deference and respect. And as a businessman, I think he likes the idea of the challenge of trying to take on the impossible mission of turning a profit with Atlantic-style journalism. Losing millions on that kind of thing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but in the scheme of things I don’t think it’s crazy to prefer doing it to spending the money on expensive paintings or whatever else you might do. Given that Bradley, though rich, is a lot less rich than many other people in this country I sometimes wonder what it is the rest of them are all doing with their money that they find more worthwhile.

That said, a couple of the most talented young people who were working at the company have left recently and I’m not sure how far a willingness to spend freely gets you under those circumstances.