When he’s not busy lambasting “trash talk TV” or gangsta rap for contributing to the decline of Western civilization, William Bennett – the thinking man’s GOP attack dog – is lamenting that he has to do business with the same media Goliaths that produce the entertainment he so loathes. Bennett’s bestseller, “The Book of Virtues,” is published by Simon & Schuster, an arm of Viacom, which also controls the former drug czar’s least favorite network, MTV. The tome is sold by Book of the Month Club, owned by Time Warner, a favorite target of Bennett’s for its naughty rap and violent films like “Natural Born Killers.” And that same media empire is poised to acquire Turner Broadcasting System, which owns the homevideo company that will distribute an animated version of Bennett’s “Book,” which is also being turned into a PBS series.
“What are you going to do?” says Bennett. “You have four companies which control just about everything.”
Bennett admits that his fellow Republicans, in their deregulatory zeal, have triggered media consolidation and thus indirectly helped limit the options on whom he can do business with. And while he says consolidation makes him “uneasy,” he claims “little expertise in that area.”
Maybe Bennett, who has a doctorate in philosophy, a law degree from Harvard and served as secretary of Education, would be wise to hone his expertise in the media turf wars under way in Washington. After all, as Bennett says, he’s now in “the entertainment business.”