The Koch Brothers are looking to gain more influence one newspaper at a time
There is a rumor going around that David and Charles Koch (or Rupert Murdoch) is bidding to buy the Tribune Corporation. These various publications, newspapers and online sites, include: the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and the Orlando Sentinel to name just a few and that’s just the printed content. Altogether, the Tribune also controls over 50 websites nationwide.
The Tribune Company is emerging from bankruptcy and is seeking to sell off its print properties (not television stations) worth $7 billion. If the sale goes through, it would be among the largest newspaper circulation acquisitions in the country’s history.
Koch Industries backs a number of libertarian causes. However, the Koch brothers are not your typical, freedom loving libertarians. They are conservatives who use the phrase “At the heart of every Conservative is a pure Libertarian”. You’ll find that they are anything but libertarians.
The Kochs believe the government should be as small as possible, but that hasn’t stopped them from using the government to serve their needs. They have made good use of the US government through policy groups like the Cato Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Let’s not forget the hundreds of millions of dollars they’ve donated to get their political representatives elected.
A corporation using the government to get what it wants is not libertarianism, it’s called fascism. In fact if David and Charles had their way, Koch industries would be more powerful than the government itself. They’re corporatists, the opposite of what the free market advocates. They would sooner replace democracy with a corporatocracy.
The Koch brothers clearly have an influence on local and state governments across the country, but are still somewhat stymied at the federal level. To combat this nuisance they co-founded the tea party along with the tobacco industry about a decade ago. It’s not a far stretch to say they now control the “crazy” portion of the Republican Party.
Just when you thought their power and influence couldn’t grow any further, they are showing a desire to get their hands on one of the country’s leading news and information networks. You would think the Tribune has too many publications for one conglomerate to own, but technically the Kochs’ are only buying one company.
As far as I know, the Kochs don’t own any media outlets and if they wish to purchase this mega mouthpiece, not much can stop them. Either way, thanks to Ronald Reagan relaxing anti-trust laws and Bill Clinton deregulating the media, it no longer matters. The Tribune should not have been allowed to acquire so much media in the first place.
The Koch Brothers procuring the Tribune is not much different from Rupert Murdoch acquiring the Wall Street Journal or the New York Post. Both newspapers have become right-wing propaganda tools, not unlike Fox News.
Needless to say, when someone takes over a media outlet with for a certain political or ideological reason, the journalism is the first to suffer. The stories are all vetted to suit the philosophy of the owner. In this case, the climate change denying, anti-tax, anti-regulation, pro-corporate agenda of the Koch Brothers.
No one is concerned with the Tribune newspapers becoming conservative mouthpieces more than the writers and journalists who work for them.
“I think we all have concerns when you think an owner might try to influence editorial content. That is sort of contrary to what the newspapering business should be about, free press. You don’t necessarily want owners and publishers dictating content.” explained Angela Kuhl at The Baltimore Sun.
It’s unclear what will happen should the Kochs receive access to some of the country’s biggest newspapers. What is clear is that David and Charles won’t be in it for financial profit, they don’t need the money.
They might be trying to influence those out of reach by the Cato Institute, ALEC and the Tea Party. They might be trying to silence certain Tribune reporters who have uncovered Koch Industries’ political influence. Perhaps they are just trying to silence Tribune newspaper’s award-winning environmental journalism; Koch Industries is the country’s fifth largest polluter after all.
A few things are certain, A Koch Newspaper Company would be bad for journalism, bad for the environment and terrible for the United States. Thanks to Reagan and Clinton, there isn’t much we can do to stop them.