One of the two biggest media stories of the summer was the unexpected takeover by the Walt Disney Company of Capital Cities/ABC for $19 billion. The announcement, which came on July 31, upstaged an announcement the next day of Westinghouse’s agreement to purchase CBS for an embarrassingly smaller amount of money. Although ABC has been in the entertainment business for as long as it has existed as a network, there seemed to many journalists something sinister and vaguely threatening to the seriousness and gravitas of ABC’s widely respected news operations in the network’s being owned by a corporate entity as essentially trivial as “The Mouse.”

Benjamin R. Barber, a political scientist at...


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