David Bradley Says the Atlantic Is Profitable—Mischievous Media Critic Says Open Your Books

Shafer to Bradley: “Let’s see the books.”

The Washington Post’s Thomas Heath had an upbeat weekend piece on Atlantic owner David Bradley:

After enduring more than $100 million in losses over a decade, Bradley has secured the future of the Atlantic, the 160-year-old monthly magazine that positions him at the commanding heights of the national conversation.

He expects to make back his investment in Atlantic Media when he finds a new owner for it in six to ten years. “I want to find somebody who will love it as much as I’ve loved it,” he said.

Which led to this tweet from Politico’s Jack Shafer:

Jack Shafer‏@jackshafer Apr 2
If David Bradley’s Atlantic is profitable, as he says it is, let’s see the books.

Before buying the Atlantic in 1999, Bradley made an estimated $300 million by starting and selling two consulting firms, the Advisory Board and the Corporate Executive Board. As the owner of the Atlantic, he may have an interest, as Shafer suggests, in putting the best face on its finances. As a private owner he doesn’t have to show anyone its books.

That is also true of Robert Allbritton, who started and expanded Politico, where Shafer works, with the almost $1 billion he received when he sold the eight television stations that had been acquired years ago by his father, Joe Allbritton.

Politico has a print product but, like the Atlantic, its growth and alleged success is built not on print but on lots of targeted web traffic.

And, like Bradley, Allbritton is likely to smile at any media critic who wants to see his company’s books.


  1. So there.

    Enjoyed the post.


    Dear Jack,

    Why should any private media owner, who is not forced to do so by law, open up his/her books to show his readers the state of the business?

    The private owners of almost all significant media outlets are rich.

    Some of course lose money on their publications, some make a good living by it.

    Do people get a stake in a periodical merely by subscribing to it?


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