Koch Brothers eyeing Tribune company

Tribune owns the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and several large regional newspapers

Published April 21, 2013 6:59PM (EDT)

Word has circulated since at least March that the libertarian leaning, Tea Party backing Koch brothers wanted to buy the Tribune Company, the struggling newspaper outfit that owns the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and several regional papers. The New York Times reports today that gaining influence in the media is part of the brothers "three-pronged, 10-year strategy to shift the country toward a smaller government with less regulation and taxes." The other two prongs are "educating grass-roots activists and influencing politics."

The Times reports:

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.

By early May, the Tribune Company is expected to send financial data to serious suitors in what will be among the largest sales of newspapers by circulation in the country. Koch Industries is among those interested, said several people with direct knowledge of the sale who spoke on the condition they not be named. Tribune emerged from bankruptcy on Dec. 31 and has hired JPMorgan Chase and Evercore Partners to sell its print properties.

The papers, valued at roughly $623 million, would be a financially diminutive deal for Koch Industries, the energy and manufacturing conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan., with annual revenue of about $115 billion.

Seton Motley, a conservative activist from a group called Less Government, told the Times that buying media influence was a natural step for conservatives after 2012's unsatisfactory results. “A running joke among conservatives as we watched the G.O.P. establishment spend $500 million on ineffectual TV ads is ‘Why don’t you just buy NBC?” he said.

By Alex Halperin

Alex Halperin is news editor at Salon. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhalperin.

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Chicago Tribune Conservatism Koch Brothers Los Angeles Times Media Tea Party