Kochs

Not Every Journalist Fears the Kochspiracy

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Are all journalists, or at least all former L.A. Times employees, apoplectic at the thought of Charles and David Koch buying the eight newspapers of the Tribune Co.? Nope!

Over at Zócalo Public Square, former Timesman Joe Mathews writes a potentially friendship-straining piece titled "I Hope the Kochs Buy the Times." Excerpt:

To be vital, papers must do more than serve a community; they must engage it. Papers should have public faces and publish things that the public loves—or loves to hate. Unfortunately, most American newspapers today are owned by little-known rich people or faceless corporations, and it's rare that papers do things that people love or hate. The L.A. Times, while still among the best in the country, suffers from this same malady: It's unthreatening and predictable.

Enter the Kochs. Simply by expressing interest in buying the Times, the billionaire brothers have made the paper a topic of conversation and community concern in a way that the paper's own content can't match. If just the possibility of Koch ownership has prompted so much talk about how to protect the paper as a community enterprise, just imagine if the Kochs actually bought it. […]

Indeed, you could make the case that the Kochs would be the best owners the Times has ever had. The Chandler family, with the important exceptions of Otis and his mother Buffy, was more right-wing, and far less public-spirited, than the Kochs. The Tribune Company, which came next, presided over a decimation of the paper. Sam Zell, the most recent owner, piled up so much debt in buying the Tribune that his purchase effectively bankrupted the company. The Kochs, for all their sins, are by all accounts philanthropic, skilled as businessmen, and rich enough (each has a net worth of over $30 billion) to invest in the paper.

Do read all the way down to the Hiram Johnson quote.

This dude bought 63 newspapers last year, but that's totally fine. ||| whitehouse.gov
whitehouse.gov

Also having sport at the journalistic anti-Koch hysteria is former Reasoner Michael C. Moynihan, over at The Daily Beast:

When billionaire investment guru Warren Buffett forked over $142 million to purchase 63 newspapers last year, most other newspapers didn't take much notice. Buffett's decision seemed backward-looking but deserving of praise: to us journalists, anyone rich and reckless enough to assume the cost of operating a newspaper in this grim media environment was worth celebrating.

But absent from the scattered coverage of the Buffett mega-purchase was the usual finger-wagging and moralizing about media concentration and the potential dangers of a politically engaged owner interfering in his newspapers' political coverage. Odd because Buffett is a political guy. He hosts fundraisers for President Obama, pens opinion pieces for The New York Times advocating a more progressive tax code (the so-called Buffett Rule, which the administration adopted in 2011), and pops up on Sunday political chat shows to expound on gridlocked Washington. […]

But it's not about journalism. It's about heretical politics. […]

It's about heretical politics. |||

There was quite a bit of excitement amongst my fellow journalists—which I shared—when Al Jazeera announced that it was opening shop in the United States, creating quite a few jobs in the process. None objected to the politics of its owners, the government of Qatar, whose record on democracy, environmentalism, human rights, and free speech leaves much to be desired. And as Human Rights Watch has pointed out, the station rarely reports at all on Qatar, much less reports critically.

But here's the good news. All those principled Los Angeles Times journalists who threatened to resign if those dreadful libertarians hijack their newspaper now have a more ethical alternative: the Qatari sheikhs are still hiring.

Reason on Charles and David Koch, the latter of whom sits on the Reason Foundation's Board of Trustees, here.

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  1. I, for one, welcome our new Kochtopus overlords.

    1. BOOGEYMAN!!!1!!!11!

    2. Yeah, they say squat whenever Soros, Turner and Buffett buy things but go nuts on Koch.

      For that reason alone, go Koch brothers. Buy ’em all out and kick out the riff-raff.

  2. The “corporate concentration of media” argument is so much bullshit. It’s basically saying that just the Koch’s buying of the LA Times will turn the ignorant masses who read the paper from liberal to (I guess?) conservative-libertarian. It’s basically wielding contempt for LA Times readers.

    1. But how will progressive voices be heard if the Koch brothers buy the Tribune company? How can they answer the right-wing propaganda with only the countervailing voices of the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, the public school system, the universities, the labor unions, and hundreds of left-wing non-profits?

    2. Plus, IIRC, the Tribune company has been the same seven papers before the Kochs got involved. It isn’t like Knight-Ridder or Clear Channel is buying the company.

  3. That would be awesome! I would love to start taking the Times again.

  4. [quote]The “corporate concentration of media” argument is so much bullshit. It’s basically saying that just the Koch’s buying of the LA Times will turn the ignorant masses who read the paper from liberal to (I guess?) conservative-libertarian. It’s basically EXPOSING contempt for LA Times readers.[/quote]

    FTFY

    1. SF’ed the tags.

      1. Is “quote” a tag available here? I use the “blockquote” tag.

        http://www.w3schools.com/tags/tag_blockquote.asp

        Never actually tried the “short quotes” tag, let’s see if it works here:

        Testing

        Testing part 2

        The long quotes tag works, though:

        Blockquotes rock!

        1. Yeah, the “q” for short quotes doesn’t seem to work, stick with the long-quote version.

          1. Or just put your own quotation marks around it. I think that’s all the “q” usually does anyway.

            1. Apparently it puts question marks around it, but I fail to see what’s so special about that.

    2. I’ve always known the media was left leaning, but this plus Benghazi has gone beyond the nail in the coffin of neutrality and put it into concrete galoshes territory. I will never again let anyone mention “impartial media” without guffawing in their face.

      1. The Benghazi thing is galling.

  5. I just wish they’d pull the trigger already and buy the damn thing.

  6. Sam Zell, the most recent owner, piled up so much debt in buying the Tribune that his purchase effectively bankrupted the company.

    Financial wizardry.

    1. Everybody thinks they are the next Ted Turner! 🙂

  7. Unfortunately, journalism is an occupation that attracts a fuckton of losers and flakes lacking much in the way of specification in their skill set. Staff of Reason excepted, of course. Such people tend to be hostile to anything with even a whiff of libertarianism in its construct.

  8. Journalism, like politics, attracts people who believe I (should) give a shit about what they think.

    I don’t.

  9. The Kochs, for all their sins, are by all accounts philanthropic, skilled as businessmen, and rich enough (each has a net worth of over $30 billion) to invest in the paper.

    What sins? I always hear liberals say how evil the Kochs are, but beyond disagreeing with liberals, have the Kochs actually don anything bad?

    1. Well, there’s that funding NOVA thing.

    2. They made money. That’s enough to make a liberal fuming mad.

      1. They are also Gaia-rapers.

    3. They’ve supported some imminent domain stuff in the past, IIRC.

      Although if you ask shreik it’ll probably be able to give you a litany of misdeeds, corruption, scandals, lies, murder, and skulldiggery to make you want to blow your brains out for asking in the first place.

      1. Except progressives don’t have a problem with eminent domain.

        1. Businesses vs land owners? Who do you hate? It’s a conundrum.

      1. The fact that it says “Sheik Yebouti” on it should have been a dead giveaway.

        1. Even so, I didn’t find it from that. Didn’t bother to try and read it, I thought it had to be an autograph. I used Tineye.

  10. When I’ve had too much to drink to be useful to anyone, I like to harass NYT writers on their tendentious choice of verbiage and tendency toward transparent editorializing. They usually respond with a polite denial, which is the best possible reinforcement for my behavior.

    So the Kochs can buy whatever papers they like; just leave the NYT alone.

    1. Know what? That’s a good point. The NYT is so “off” these days it may as well be The Onion. If you accept this, then it becomes comedy and worth reading.

  11. brilliant ending line, welch

  12. Ok, I’m going to ask a question that may comes off as ignorant to some of you. I don’t get the Zappa reference to the article.

    Can anyone ‘splain to this simpleton?

    I ate too much yellow snow.

  13. Dear Koch brothers, if and when you do buy the La times, please, please PLEASE fire Michael Hiltzik, David Lazarus, and the SORRY excuse of a cartoonist David Horsey.

    Bill Plashkle and TJ Simers were employed to write sports article for that paper for reasons that escape me.

  14. there are lot of tags are avialable.

    rajinikanth jokes

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