In a definitive nod to the fact that they have more money than they would know what to do with, the Koch brothers have reportedly recently set their sights on the newspaper industry. The brothers -- who actually aren't named Randolph and Mortimer -- reportedly revealed their plans at a libertarian get-together in Aspen, Colorado that I can only assume was a hell of a bender.
Other than financing a few fringe libertarian publications, the Kochs have mostly avoided media investments. 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.
Now it's possible that the Koch brothers -- who reportedly pledged $60 million between them to defeat Barack Obama in the 2012 election and whose super-PAC, Americans for Prosperity, drummed up roughly $36.7 million in political donations during the election cycle -- could have some sort of political motivation in wanting to purchase these entities. But I'd be remiss to be unduly suspicious of billionaire brothers, who have made their fortune in energy and petroleum, taking a sudden interest in becoming media mavens on the heels of a grand disastrous effort to remove the current president from office.
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.
One person who attended the Aspen seminar who spoke on the condition of anonymity described the strategy as follows: "It was never 'How do we destroy the other side?'"
"It was 'How do we make sure our voice is being heard?'"
Ah, there it is.
From what I understand, rule #1 of being eccentric billionaire libertarian brothers hoping to purchase well-respected media entities so that you may tout your anti-tax, global warming conspiracy message is to not peripherally indicate that you're hoping to purchase well-respected media entities so that you may tout your anti-tax, global warming conspiracy message.
Come on guys, this is Evil Scheme 101 stuff.
But not to worry, a spokeswoman for their company indicated, "As an entrepreneurial company with 60,000 employees around the world, we are constantly exploring profitable opportunities in many industries and sectors."
*Pause for laughter*
As of now the Koch brothers are considered by some to be the frontrunners to purchase the Tribune papers. In this spirit, I thought it might be fun (and quite depressing) to explore how a Koch-run newspaper might have presented some of the most iconic news events in modern history.
"Titanic Sinks Four Hours After Hitting Iceberg; Poor Quality Union Labor To Blame?"
"Market Takes A Slight Tumble -- Important People Fine!"
"Dewey Defeats Truman!"
"Wasteful Spending Spree Culminates In No Natural Resources Being Discovered On Moon; Nation Devastated -- Will Kennedy Resign?"
"Thunderstorm Strikes Gulf Coast, As They Often Do; CLIMATE CHANGE OCCURS NATURALLY!"
Photos via Wikimedia Commons