Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who fund a number of extreme right-wing organizations and are major contributors to the tea party and bankrollers for host of anti-worker state ballot initiatives and legislation, now have their sights set on building a major media empire.
They are expected to make a $600 million-plus bid to purchase the Tribune Co. and its eight regional newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, the Orlando Sentinel and the Hartford Courant, and more than 20 TV stations like WGN in Chicago and KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles.
Journalists, workers and community groups are raising concerns about the possible purchase, and the Kochs turning these independent news outlets into mouthpieces for their extremist agenda.
The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor will rally Tuesday, May 14, outside the offices of Oaktree Capital Management, which has a significant ownership stake in the Tribune Co., along with managing a number of public employee and union pension funds.
The Newspaper Guild-CWA has called on the Tribune Co. to make a pledge that they’ll only sell to a buyer that will protect the objectivity of the news product by making a public commitment to doing so.
Great papers publish credible, trusted journalism online and on the printed page. Whoever comes to own these mastheads needs to understand that protecting newsrooms from ideological taint is no small thing. The future of American journalism depends on the ability to print truth, not opinion.
Last month, The New York Times reported that a recent gathering of super-wealthy, like-minded extreme conservatives, the Koch’s “laid out a three-pronged 10-year strategy” to win their far-right agenda.
The first two pieces of the strategy—educating grass-roots activists and influencing politics—were not surprising, given the money they have given to policy institutes and political action groups. But the third one was: media.
Clarence Page, a top Chicago Tribune columnist, who said he would oppose a takeover of the paper by David and Charles Koch because of “the fact that they seem to be coming in upfront with the idea of using a major news media as a vehicle for their political voice.”
BTW, Rush Limbaugh and most current right-wing media talkers and news outlets are reacting with glee that the Kochs might take over the Tribune operations and silence the papers’ and other outlets’ independent voices.