Koch brothers consider purchasing L.A. Times

The conservative donors are reportedly eyeing one of the country's top newspaper companies

Published March 12, 2013 4:45PM (EDT)

David Koch                 (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)
David Koch (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)

According to "multiple sources" who spoke with L.A. Weekly, the conservative billionaire Koch brothers are considering buying the Tribune Co., which owns the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Trubine and the Baltimore Sun, among other publications:

Now, these are unverified rumors that should be taken with a grain of salt if not a whole dollop. The Tribune Co. won't comment on any specific offers they've received, although a source there says, "We've gotten a ton of interest. That was one of the reasons for hiring the outside financial advisors, to sift through the unsolicited interest." [...]

Another rumor, passed along by a member of the L.A. Times Editorial Board, no less, has the Koch Brothers helping to finance a bid by "Papa Doug" Manchester, himself a right-wing multimillionaire who in 2009 bought the San Diego Union Tribune and promptly turned it into a propaganda organ for San Diego development.

Like many newspaper companies, Tribune Co. has faced hard times in recent years, complicated by the difficult reign of Sam Zell, who took the company into bankruptcy.

Purchasing publications is a tried and true avenue for wealthy patrons with an interest in influencing politics, so it makes sense that the Kochs would be looking at taking over a major publication. Facebooker Chris Hughes was the most recent mogul to follow this path when he purchased the New Republic last year for $80 million.

And with a price tag of over $600 million and the likelihood of running operating losses, someone with money to burn -- Charles and David Koch are each worth over $30 billion -- would be needed to purchase the Tribune Co.

The fear, of course, is that the brothers would turn the renowned papers into organs for their conservative agenda. But if the papers lost their credibility -- and media critics and liberal partisans would surely be on high alert to spot any perceived biases under Koch management -- they would also lose their value and thus be a pretty poor investment for the brothers. If they wanted a mouthpiece, they would probably purchase a smaller publication with a smaller price tag and less internal resistance.

By Alex Seitz-Wald

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