Another thing that got lost in the craziness last week. Remember the Koch brothers? You know, those wild-eyed crazy oil billionaires from Wichita who fund a lot of the Tea Party (and the Cato Institute), deny climate science and want to kill anything and everything that regulates? Of course you do. Apparently, they need a bigger platform for their extremist views:
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.
Needless to say, this has caused Hunter S. Thompson-esque levels of fear and loathing among both journalists who currently work for the eight newspapers as well as liberals convinced that the Los Angeles Times will soon change its name to the Climate Change Hoax Report. A legitimate cause for worry? Sure -- but I think people are missing the bigger picture.
Over the last decade, we've seen various cases from coast to coast of novice millionaires and billionaires buying into newspapers (at bargain basement prices), in part because they grew up in the golden age of newspapers and see it as a vehicle for influence, political, social and otherwise. How's that turned out? Why not ask Sam Zell, who was a nationally recognized real-estate developer when he swooped in and bought the Tribune Company, including the eight newspapers that the Kochs are now kicking the tires on. Today, Sam Zell is a broken man, and a national punchline. Other would-be moguls have not fared much better.
If the Koch brothers do buy these newspapers, their fantasies of running daily editorials to abolish the EPA and an eight-reporter team probing the real truth of Barack Hussein Obama's birth certificate will soon drown in a sea of dismal lack-of-earnings reports. Their precious time will not be spent pontificating, but scheming how to impose more 2-percent pay cuts on hard-working unionized reporters, on hiring consultants on how to get more blog posts up on Justin Bieber and Reese Witherspoon to goose those page views. With eight -- count 'em, eight! -- endangered metro newspapers on their books, how many months before we start caling "the billionaire Koch brothers" instead "the millionaire Koch brothers"? Within a couple of years, who knows?...
If I were a right-wing schemer, I'd be looking at a different strategy -- how to convince George Soros that he's missing out on the deal of a lifetime.