Ben Sheffner, writing at Slate, suggests a “secret meeting” — first reported by the Atlantic — of newspaper executives might trigger the wrath of the Justice Department’s antitrust overlords. Allegedly, the barons of no-longer-Big Media were discussing a cartel-type arrangement to start putting content behind pay walls. It’s a silly idea that won’t work, of course, but what’s even sillier is this quote from an antitrust lawyer about why the DOJ might get involved:
“There are a lot of people in the Antitrust Division who don’t have a whole lot on their plates because their merger work has dried up. The staffing is there, and they have the opportunity to go do something.”
It must be nice to work in a “recession-proof” industry like antitrust where a lack of demand doesn’t lead to budget or personnel cuts: If people don’t want your product, just force them to buy more. Some would call that monopolistic behavior, but then again, the DOJ exists to protect us from monopolies. Funny how that works.