Dinesh D'Souza Patron Joe Ricketts Shuts Down Local News Sites After They Unionize
Credit: YouTube
November 6, 2017

Given the popularity of Ayn Rand within the plutocrat class, I suspect that billionaire Joe Ricketts would describe what he did yesterday as "going Galt":

A week ago, reporters and editors in the combined newsroom of DNAinfo and Gothamist, two of New York City’s leading digital purveyors of local news, celebrated victory in their vote to join a union.

On Thursday, they lost their jobs, as Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade who owned the sites, shut them down.

We know that Ricketts donated $1 million in PAC money to help elect Donald Trump in 2016 and posted a pro-Trump essay ("Attacks on President Trump Show the Political Class Has Learned Nothing") on his blog yesterday. His son Todd was a Trump pick to be deputy commerce secretary, but withdrew because, in CNN's words, he "struggled to reconcile his family's complicated finances with the Office of Government Ethics."

But here are a couple of Joe Ricketts moments you may not remember. In May 2012, he set out to spend $10 million in order to prevent Barack Obama's reelection, commissioning an elaborate proposal for an anti-Obama ad campaign focused on the Reverend Jeremiah Wright:

A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the “super PAC” era and attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from....

The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign.

“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Mr. Ricketts is increasingly putting his fortune to work in conservative politics....

The $10 million plan, one of several being studied by Mr. Ricketts, includes preparations for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting it envisions if it highlights Mr. Obama’s former ties to Mr. Wright, who espouses what is known as “black liberation theology.”

The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”

A few days after that was reported, we learned that Ricketts was helping to finance an anti-Obama film by Dinesh D'Souza:

... the billionaire investor Joe Ricketts ... is involved in another effort slated for this summer, a documentary filmbased on a widely criticized book, "The Roots of Obama's Rage" by Dinesh D'Souza, which asserts that Mr. Obama is carrying out the "anticolonial" agenda of his Kenyan father.

Mr. Ricketts's aides said he was one of roughly two dozen investors, providing only 5 percent of the film's budget. But ... Mr. Ricketts's aides also said that he had helped pay for newspaper and Internet advertisements promoting Mr. D'Souza's book in late 2010, one of which called it "the book the White House doesn't want you to read," and warned, "The real Barack Obama is even worse than you think." ...

Here's the trailer for that movie, which tells us, "Obama has a dream, a dream from his father: that the sins of colonialism be set right and America be downsized."

So Ricketts was a terrible person long before he shut those news outlets down.

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