After years of mismanagement, the Tribune Company newspapers -- including the Chicago Tribune and L.A. Times -- are up for sale. And one of the potential buyers? The Koch brothers. And wow are people outraged!
Yes, it's those Koch brothers:the billionaire businessmen who run Koch Industries, a sprawling multinational corporation involved in everything from oil to fertilizer to paper towels. But you probably know the Koch brothers for how they spend their considerable wealth: bankrolling right-wing political causes like the Tea Party movement, and funneling millions of dollars to front groups and politicians devoted to their anti-regulatory, anti-labor, and pro-corporate ideology. The Kochs have spent millions propping up climate-change deniers, and have been instrumental in funding ALEC, the powerful business lobby that pushes corporate-friendly policies at the state level.
What would the Kochs do with a few major newspapers? They would push public opinion and public despair further to the right and further into the depths. This is why taxing billionaires is not a policy driven by greed or jealousy or even the desire to put vast sums of riches to good use. Taxing billionaires is necessary if we are going to have representative government. We talk about "freedom of the press." Never mind government surveillance of reporters' phone records. Never mind the prosecutions of whistleblowers and journalists. If billionaires can dominate our communications system with what to them amounts to pocket change, while we blog dissent to people who believe nothing that doesn't appear on Tee-Vee or in a corporate paper, whose freedom of the press is it?
Some recent reports indicate that many L.A. Times staffers would consider leaving the paper if it were purchased by the Kochs -- which is probably music to their cost-cutting ears. Better than staff promising to quit is subscribers promising to unsubscribe:
"I will cancel my subscription and so will family members. We have no need for propaganda dictated by far right-wing spoiled billionaires with an anti-citizenry, pro 1% agenda. This will be the death of your struggling paper in a town that once had a proud history of journalism. It's a disgrace."
That comment was posted with a signature on this petition. Here are some more:
"If you want to increase the circulation of the New York TIMES in Los Angeles, let the Koch brothers buy the Los Angeles TIMES."
"No Koch news!!!"
"If the Koch brothers get their hands on your paper, it will only be useful as tp."
"Don't give up the integrity of your company for a measley few bucks."
"I refuse to continue my newspaper subscription if the Koch Brothers buy the Tribune. I boycott their other products so I will do the same if they buy the Tribune."
"If you sell to the Koch brothers, you can remove us from your subscription list!!"
"Don't let your long tradition of fair reporting be purchased away."
"Koch purchase is a bad deal for our nation!!!!!!!!!!!!"
"Keep the corporate greed off of our free press!"
"Selling out to the Koch's will pretty much put the kabosh on the 4th Estate's duty to afflict the comfortable."