In a move that could radically change the meaning of mainstream media, the Koch brothers, the libertarian leaning billionaires and industrial giants are contemplating purchasing the Tribune Company newspapers. A purchase of this magnitude by the biggest financiers of libertarian causes would forever change the meme of mainstream media bias.
The brothers have made it no secret that they intend to use their considerable wealth to influence politics. They have a 10-year strategy that includes funding grassroots activists, politicians, think tanks, super PACS and just about anything else that can be used to promote and further their political ideology of free market enterprise and smaller government. The strategy would be greatly enhanced by the purchase of this bloc of regional newspapers.
Charles and David Koch have a combined net worth north of $60 billion. Their multinational company, Koch Industries is one of the largest privately held companies in America with revenues in excess of $100 billion. Koch Industries is literally involved in every imaginable sector in the economy, including manufacturing, finance, commodities trading, ranching, energy, petroleum, chemicals, defense, and pulp and paper.
Up until know the brothers have been content with furthering their business and political goals through the funding of grassroots organizations and politicians such as Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisc.), former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Senate-candidate Richard Mourdock R-Ind.), Representative Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and Tea Party Congresswoman Michelle Bachman (R-Minn.), while providing support for the libertarian leaning research papers produced by their supported organizations. Even President Obama received a $10,000 campaign contribution from Koch Industries. However a purchase of The Tribune Company newspapers would be a game changer.
Some of the most influential libertarian and conservative policy institutes and political action committees in America have been the beneficiaries of millions of Koch brother contributions, including the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, the Reason Foundation, the Mercatus Center, the American Enterprise Institute, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, and A.L.E.C, the American Legislative Exchange Council.
They have used their contributions to these organizations as well as contributing to a number of elected officials to further their goal of privatizing social security and public education, eliminating labor unions and drastically reducing environmental protection regulations. The brothers do not believe in climate change and vigorously oppose any legislation designed to address global warming e.g. greenhouse effects. Owning a set of online and print newspapers would certainly facilitate a shift towards favorable coverage of these positions in some of the mainstream media.
The grassroots and political legs of the 10-year strategy have been fairly successful. The brothers vehemently deny contributing to any Tea Party, but the organizations they have created and funded, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, are front and center in the Tea Party movement. It would take quite a stretch of imagination to believe that these organizations do not have the direct blessing of the powerful brothers. Purchasing some mainstream media is the final piece of the puzzle and will forever kill the meme of mainstream media bias.
The Tribune Company newspapers include the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Orlando Sentinel, the Hartford Courant and the Baltimore Sun. A purchase of these regional newspapers, as well as the Spanish-language daily Hoy, would ensure that the conservative and libertarian ideology of the brothers was widely and strategically disseminated. The LA Times is the fourth-largest newspaper in the country and theChicago Tribune is the ninth. The Orlando Sentinel and the Sun Sentinel, which won a Pulitzer Award this year, are two of the largest papers in the swing state of Florida. A purchase of these papers would provide a medium for a daily dosage of conservative and libertarian based analysis and opinion.
If the brothers took a heavy hand with the editorial boards of the papers, then coupled with papers like the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times, the purchase could begin to level the playing field for conservatives and libertarians. In fact, a purchase of this magnitude could do for print and online newspapers what Fox News Channel did for cable news: provide an alternate to the perceived bias of mainstream media for conservatives and right-leaning libertarians.