When I was a child, during the 1930’s depression, my school teacher often commented to our class about the sufferings of our native state, Virginia. She spoke not only of the rigours of the Civil War, but of its even more devastating aftermath, the Reconstruction and the carpetbagger empire. She pointed out that, since the conclusion of the Civil War, or the War Between the States, as we termed it, Northern bankers had continued to exercise a dominant role over our businesses and our government.
Some fifty years later, Gary Arnold asked me to look into a firm which had been opposing his conservative philosophy in California. The firm, Media General, was a familiar one to me. It was the result of an expansion by Virginia’s leading newspaper monopoly, RICHMOND NEWSPAPERS, which had become an empire composed of newspapers, radio and TV, cable-vision, newsprint manufacturers, and financial services. From its power base at the seat of the state government in Richmond in the carpetbagger era, it had become the state’s primary news monopoly.
Richmond Newspapers (now Media General) is a $500 million a year operation which was founded by Joseph Bryan in the heyday of the carpetbagger empire. His son, John Stewart Bryan, ran the newspapers from 1900 until his death in 1944. John Stewart Bryan was a lieutenant commander in Naval Intelligence, chairman of the 5th Federal Reserve District, and to prove his stellar liberal credentials, he was appointed to the board of overseers of Harvard University.