I hope everyone is bracing themselves for what’s sure to be the maudlin media observance of the 10th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana. One of the more explosive links, made explicitly in Tina Brown’s book “The Diana Chronicles” is that Rupert Murdoch, the new overlord at the Wall Street Journal, is at least indirectly responsible for Diana’s death.
Murdoch, says Brown, created the rapacious bottom-feeder media environment in the U.K. that was already revving up in its search for salacious content when Diana came on the scene. The idea that Diana was hounded to death by paparazzi is, to a lot of people, rather dubious to begin with. But if you subscribe to that notion, does Murdoch, as the engine behind the paparazzi craze, bear some responsibility for what happened to Diana? Tina Brown has some personal history with Murdoch, so there may be a hint of sour grapes in that assertion. But was Diana a victim of the tabloid-ization that Murdoch has spearheaded in recent decades? Or is all this a story of a drunk chauffeur?
THE MONEY PIT: I appreciate the many comments about new faces on our paper currency. The idea is ripe for consideration because of the government’s willingness to play with the idea of new images on our money in recent years. Fifteen years ago, new designs on American money was all but unthinkable. But now it’s commonplace.
I agree that contemporary figures on currency are likely to cause all sorts of controversy in the short term, but is that any reason to avoid such figures? With its new presidential series of dollar coins, the Mint is already courting that controversy when they release coins with FDR, Kennedy, Nixon, Carter and Reagan, not to mention Dubya.
Still, there must be figures in American culture that transcend the tawdry polarization of today. Maybe the trick is to find them far back enough in history: Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Edison. After all, the idea to remind Americans that they still do have a shared heritage.