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A New York Times headline today reads, "Conservative Koch Brothers Turning Focus to Newspapers."

The Times reports:  

"Now, Koch Industries, the sprawling private company of which Charles G. Koch serves as chairman and chief executive, is exploring a bid to buy the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant."
Can America afford to have newspapers like these owned by people like the Koch Brothers?  

These are the men who have worked with governors like Walker in Wisconsin to take power from workers --kicking them when they're already down-- to enrich the rich still further.

These are the men who fund climate-change denial, oil billionaires willing to sacrifice the future of generations to come and the health of our planet to keep the mega-profits coming in from the fossil fuels they sell.

How much damage has been done to America already by Rupert Murdoch and his empire of right-wing propaganda?  Can we afford to have another powerful channel of the same kind of destructive spirit take over still more of the organs of public consciousness?

Can our democracy survive not just streams but vast rivers of lies flowing into the reservoir of American understanding?

Andy Schmookler, recently the Democratic nominee for Congress in Virginia’s 6th District, is an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher.  He is the author of various books including The Parable of the Tribes:  The Problem of Power in Social Evolution.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We survived Hearst we'll survive the Kochs. nt (0+ / 0-)

    Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    by thestructureguy on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:33:39 PM PDT

  •  I am in LA (9+ / 0-)

    and am horrified at the idea that the Koches might take over the Times.

    But how do you propose blocking them? They are doing nothing illegal. The Tribune Co. is a publicly owned entity whose board of trustees have obligations to get the most for their stockholders.

    The alternative is for the local LA group who is bidding for the times to vastly increase their offer to include the rest of the papers (the Tribune Co. prefers to sell them as a unit). But since the Koches likely are prepared to lose all their money, they have a bit of an advantage.

    I know of no legal way to block them other than a higher bid. Happy to hear if others know of any.

    •  Maybe that guy who just got out of jail.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster, Mathazar

      ...for filing imaginary bids with the BLM should turn his attentions to this.

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:55:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's a drop in the bucket for the Kochs. (0+ / 0-)

      Koch industries annual revenue is over $100 billion, the Trib's publishing group is valued at $600 million.

      They can outbid everybody else with their pocket change.

      "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

      by Bush Bites on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:52:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ever hear of the First Amendment? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk

      Schmookler apparently thought he was qualified to be one of our Representatives in Congress.

      Now he's talking about "blocking" someone's bid for some newspapers because he disagrees with that person's politics?!?

      I think Schmookler should explain how he thinks his stance is consistent with our democratic system... or he should GTFO from politics.

      •  Since he asks (0+ / 0-)
        Can our democracy survive not just streams but vast rivers of lies flowing into the reservoir of American understanding?
        I would say, yes. It is not a great system, but seems this is exactly what we do at dKos.

        I agree, no way to block this from going to highest bidder. If Mr. Schmookler doesn't like this group, he should be getting someone else to buy at a higher price.

  •  Blocked how, exactly? (4+ / 0-)

    Is there some progressive non-evil twin of the Wingnut Constitution, with provisions knows only to our side?

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:55:30 PM PDT

    •  my comment below: legal means, respecting rights (0+ / 0-)

      Blocked by persuading and/or pressuring the seller side of the equation not to transfer to people like the Koch brothers newspapers of the importance, and with the history, of the Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun....

      More in my comment below under "I'm not sure it's that simple."

  •  Seems like they already own the Chicago Tribune (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites, Empower Ink

    Here's a pro-fracking editorial from today's paper.  So, not appropriate for Earth Day!

    •  Trib's a wingnut rag masquerading... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Empower Ink

      ....as a moderate Repub rag.

      Frankly, I'll be glad when the Kochs buy them and they finally lose their fake respectable veneer.

      (You should see them cheering for war against Iran.)

      "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

      by Bush Bites on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:45:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  do the Kochs want the Boston Globe too? (0+ / 0-)

    who paid for the pizzas from the Chicago Tribune to the Boston Globe?

    cheerleaders need not apply.

    by kravitz on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:35:20 PM PDT

  •  I don't think you can do that. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib

    And, you know, even if you tried, the sellers would sue if you stopped them from getting top dollar.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:42:01 PM PDT

  •  Andy - the Tribune papers will be sold to the (4+ / 0-)

    highest bidder. It's the fiduciary duty of the Tribune Co directors. There has been some discussion that News Corp is also interested. The Tribune group of newspapers is worth more to Murdoch, who can use the content and brands across multiple media. However, the Koch's aren't looking at this acquisition as a financial investment and can easily absorb newspapers losses because of profits in their other lines of business.

    I know of no legal basis to restrict the Koch Bros ownership of the Tribune group of newspapers. Each newspaper is in a separate market.  

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:52:02 PM PDT

    •  I'd rather the Kochs got it. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib

      Murdoch can run a newspaper, I don't think the Kochs can.

      "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

      by Bush Bites on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:55:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not sure that it's that simple (0+ / 0-)

      Does every Board of Directors have to sell to the highest bidder in every instance, no matter who that highest bidder is?

      What if the issue were submitted to the stockholders?  The interests of the stockholders are not 100 % synonymous with the maximization of their financial gain.  Human beings have other interests and values.

      I am not advocating the violation of anyone's "rights," including the Koch Brothers.  But political campaigns --demonstrations, boycotts or threats thereof, petitions, etc.-- could conceivably influence what the sellers choose to do.

      In other words, there are legal means of seeking to persuade and of applying pressure.

      •  Andy - this would have to be approved by (0+ / 0-)

        shareholders. However, the current shareholders are the institutional lenders who took control of the company when it came out of it's Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Dec 2012. These are lenders who are interested in the highest possible financial return on their loans, which were converted to equity through the bankruptcy process.

        In a broader context public companies (the Tribune was taken private in 2007 by Sam Zell) that are incorporated in Delaware (half the US public stocks) , and many other states, are constrained by the "Revlon Rule" which requires members of the board to look only to the long term interest of shareholders when making decisions. In 99% of the circumstances that translates into companies being sold to the highest bidder. The sale of a company does require shareholder approval, but it's highly unusual for shareholders to turn down a buyout proposal. Usually the largest shareholders approve the deal before it is even sent out to other shareholders to vote.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 09:49:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  stop making them billionaires (0+ / 0-)

    by purchasing their products ...

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