Mitt Romney (Former Company) Buys (Stake in) Clear Channel

Chris Bowers has a post proclaiming “Mitt Romney Buys Clear Channel” and delivers this ominous assessment:

To prepare for their 2008 runs, most potential candidates stock up on staff, a Leadership PAC, and support from party leaders, advocacy organizations, and grassroots groups. Mitt Romney buys a media empire. I can’t argue with what will probably be an effective strategy, but I can fear for American Democracy.

He bases it on a dire report by the blog Rochester Turning.

I hadn’t even been aware that Clear Channel was up for sale. Sure enough, though, it accepted an offer today. Business Week has the details:

Clear Channel Communications (CCU) said Nov. 16 that it had agreed to a buyout from an investor group that will pay around $26.7 billion, including the assumption or repayment of $8.0 billion of net debt. The media and entertainment company said the group, led by Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. and Bain Capital Partners, LLC, has agreed to pay Clear Channel shareholders $37.60 per share.

The deal represents a premium that’s around 25% more than Clear Channel’s average closing share price of $29.99 during the 30 trading days ended October 24, 2006, the day before Clear Channel first acknowledged that it was evaluating strategic alternatives. After the news, investors bid up the stock 4.6% to $35.68 per share in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Interestingly, no mention anywhere in the BW story of Romney, which is odd given that he’s governor of Massachusetts (for a few more weeks, anyway) and a presumptive candidate for president in 2008. (Who has, incidentally, lined up plenty of staff, most recently ad guru Alex Castellanos.) Ditto the dozens of other stories on the buy-out currently linked at GoogleNews.

Romney was indeed a founder of Bain Capital back in 1984. He’s not listed on the current masthead, though, because he divested his shares in the company long ago.

Still, it’s not unreasonable to think that the present ownership of Bain would be predisposed to favorable coverage of one of its founding members, even if, as one of Bowers’ commenters notes, Thomas H. Lee Partners, Bain’s partner in the Clear Channel acquisition, is a heavy donor to the Democratic Party. Having close relationships with the owners of a powerful media outlet like Clear Channel would indeed seem to be a tremendous advantage for a presidential candidate. It sure helped Michael Bloomberg in his quest to become mayor of New York City. Still, as Bloomberg has found out, it’s not as if there aren’t alternate venues for criticism to emerge.

Should Bloomberg run for president, I am quite confident plenty will.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. So someone like Rather making up a story on very dubious sources and still not admitting the problems with the story to this day sparked no fears for democracy but a long shot for the republican nomination former company buys the lead player in a dying form of old media and this causes fear for democracy.

  2. Bowers is a chowderhead. Bain Capital is a takeover house; they’re in the Clear Channel deal for the money, not the politics.

    but he did manage to work in that “Fairness Doctrine” malarkey on the same day it was learned Al Franken was bailing out on Air America Radio.