Hey Los Angeles, pay attention: Charles and David Koch are serious about buying the Tribune newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, according to the New York Times.
In a front-page article on Sunday, The New York Times confirms reports that the conservative Koch billionaire-brothers are expected to submit a bid to buy the Tribune Company's eight newspapers, including the L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and Orlando Sentinel.
The paper reported:
This month a Koch representative contacted Eddy W. Hartenstein, publisher and chief executive of The Los Angeles Times, to discuss a bid, according to a person briefed on the conversation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the conversation was private. Mr. Hartenstein declined to comment.
The Koch brothers are known for having funnelled multiple millions of dollars into right-wing and ultra-right wing political campaigns. They are wealthy, powerful ideologues with deep convictions that less government is better. They have used their money to fuel the Tea Party movement and to fund right-wing and libertarian think tanks including The Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the Tea Party-connected Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks.
This news should make anyone who cares about journalism, transparency and the pursuit of fact-based reporting, nervous. No city should desire a newspaper with the pedigree and reach of the L.A. Times in the hands of ideologues of any stripe.
And at this stage, they are the only known interested bidder for the group of newspapers owned by Tribune. A group of local billionaires, including Ron Burkle and Eli Broad, are investigating buying the L.A. Times only, which remains a profitable enterprise despite the challenged sector. Rupert Murdoch is another reportedly interested bidder on the L.A. Times, though not the entire newspaper group.
And as if this were to make anyone breathe easier, the Times reported:
One person who has previously advised Koch Industries said the Tribune Company papers were considered an investment opportunity, and were viewed as entirely separate from Charles and David Kochs' lifelong mission to shrink the size of government.
According to insiders, the sale of Tribune is meant to be completed in the next three months.