Charles Koch in his office in Wichita, Kansas. (AP Photo/Topeka Capital-Journal, Mike Burley.)
If their bid is successful, the Koch brothers won’t just have a strong influence over the laws we all live under and the climate we pass on to the next generation, they’ll be publishing the news we read. The New York Times confirmed earlier reports that Charles and David Koch are pursuing a bid for the Tribune Company newspapers, which include the Los Angeles Times, the Orlando Sentinel, The Baltimore Sun and many others.
The Kochs, despite financing an unprecedented outside advertising and field campaign, failed to unseat President Barack Obama—a man Charles has referred to as “Saddam Hussein.” In a recent employee newsletter, Charles makes clear he’s not giving up. “As a company, we are committed to doing what is right in every aspect of our business,” wrote Charles. “That is why we will continue doing everything we can to persuade politicians to put what is good for the country first, before it is too late.”
If the Koch brothers treat the papers as they do their other philanthropic and political endeavors, the public will be at a great loss. Here are four reasons why:
1.) Koch Known for Peddling Politics Through Every Aspect of Business, Philanthropy: One way the Kochs have influenced policy is through large grants to universities and students to pursue research relating to the Koch’s view of how society should operate. Unlike most other academic donors, Koch attaches strings to their grants, dictating how faculty are hired and which research programs can be pursued, as was the case with the controversy at Florida State University. Notably, most Koch ‘philanthropic’ activity is coordinated by the Charles Koch Foundation, which is led by Kevin Gentry and Richard Fink, two Koch Industries executives who double as leaders of the Koch corporate lobbying office, known as Koch Public Sector. As Mike Elk reported, Koch took the extraordinary step of encouraging their employees to vote for Republicans in the last two elections. Even during the fight last year over control of the Cato Institute, Koch attempted a takeover by nominating company lobbyists and loyal neoconservatives to the board of the famously libertarian nonprofit. If Charles Koch is to be believed when he said this year that he would do “everything” he can to persuade politicians, how will the Tribune Company papers maintain independence?