The Public Interest

Media and Business Elites: Two Classes in Conflict?

S. Robert Lichter & Stanley Rothman

Fall 1982

On some time we have been engaged in a large-scale study of two “elite” groups in American life: business executives and journalists. Businessmen have played a leading role in American history, though today the significance of their role may be diminishing compared with that of elected officials, government bureaucrats, the intellectuals who shape ideas, and the journalists who spread them. In recent years we have seen more and more attention given to competition between what has been called the “new class,” and the “old ruling class” of businessmen. The “new class” is variously defined, but usually refers to those whose base is in government, the universities, and the media. Thus a key question in American politics is whether the elites of government, the universities, and the media are really different in their ideas and outlooks from the business elite.

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