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Koch Brothers Make Play for Media Empire


"Stop the next Fox News before it starts."


While many conservatives bemoan the influence of billionaire investor George Soros over American politics through his prolific investments in nonprofits and media, progressives have long held a bogeyman of their own to attack: Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries, known in most outlets as "the Koch brothers." The Kochs, described in some circles as "the financial engine of the Tea Party," have built large chunks of the conservative nonprofit infrastructure since 2010 (which has earned their political investments the derogatory nickname "The Kochtopus"), and are some of the most prolific donors to Republican and libertarian-leaning politicians.

But for all these financial contributions to the grassroots and political sides of the conservative movement, the Kochs had yet to build up their influence in the media. That state of affairs may now be at an end, as the two are said to be considering buying the $7 billion Tribune newspaper company, which owns such well-known papers as The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant.

The New York Times reports:

The papers, valued at roughly $623 million, would be a financially diminutive deal for Koch Industries, the energy and manufacturing conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan., with annual revenue of about $115 billion.

Politically, however, the papers could serve as a broader platform for the Kochs’ laissez-faire ideas. The Los Angeles Times is the fourth-largest paper in the country, and The Tribune is No. 9, and others are in several battleground states, including two of the largest newspapers in Florida, The Orlando Sentinel and The Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. A deal could include Hoy, the second-largest Spanish-language daily newspaper, which speaks to the pivotal Hispanic demographic.[...]

At this early stage, the thinking inside the Tribune Company, the people close to the deal said, is that Koch Industries could prove the most appealing buyer. Others interested, including a group of wealthy Los Angeles residents led by the billionaire Eli Broad and Ronald W. Burkle, both prominent Democratic donors, and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, would prefer to buy only The Los Angeles Times.

The Tribune Company has signaled it prefers to sell all eight papers and their back-office operations as a bundle. (Tribune, a $7 billion media company that also owns 23 television stations, could also decide to keep the papers if they do not attract a high enough offer.)

Naturally, the idea of such a deal has sent shockwaves through the liberal blogosphere. At least one petition already exists to try and stop it from happening:

Stop the next Fox News before it starts.

The Koch Brothers are the worst of the worst. Oil and gas billionaires, they're known for buying elections, funding anti-science organizations, union busting, dodging taxes, and twisting democracy any way they can to promote their personal agenda.

Now, in a stunning move, according to the Hollywood Reporter, they want to buy the Los Angeles Times to further their radical right-wing agenda and move fringe Tea Party ideas into the mainstream.

They cannot be allowed to purchase one of the most respected newspapers in the country in the second biggest media market in order to peddle their discredited ideas and right wing propaganda. Millions of Angelenos count on the Los Angeles Times for real facts, real issues, and unbiased information. The L.A. Times endorsements in local and statewide elections carry substantial clout. The Koch brothers cannot be allowed to control this vital source of information.

Join us in calling on Peter Liguori, President of The Tribune Company, to say "Do not sell theLos Angeles Times to David and Charles Koch, or any other propagandists."

Will these complaints work? If reports are accurate, it's unlikely. Koch Industries is, according to the Times and other outlets, seen as the most attractive buyer by Tribune itself, and the company has publicly stated that it has no intention of forcing an agenda on the papers it is buying. However, that assurance is unlikely to quiet apprehension among the Kochs' detractors.

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