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If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Buy ‘Em

It is being reported that Koch Industries is considering bidding for the eight regional Tribune newspapers. The Tribune Company, having recently emerged from bankruptcy, is putting the papers up for sale. The Tribune papers include the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, the Orlando Sentinel and the Hartford Courant, and represent a substantial media presence. The New York Times, which has more than a passing interest in the subject, reports:

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. …

At this early stage, the thinking inside the Tribune Company, the people close to the deal said, is that Koch Industries could prove the most appealing buyer.

Well, let’s hope so. Buying newspapers and other media outlets is something we have long advocated. It will only help, of course, if conservative owners install management that will move the papers away from their usual staunch liberalism. Also, in order to make a difference the papers will need to do actual reporting as opposed to publishing AP stories. Whether the Koch brothers or anyone else can both pursue an ambitious news agenda and make money doing it in the current media environment remains to be seen.

The Times article is actually quite even-handed, but it does have its comic moments, like this one:

Conservatives, meanwhile, welcomed the idea of a handful of prominent papers spreading the ideas of economic “freedom” from taxes and regulation that the Kochs have championed.

Will this become a trend? Maybe the Times should always put the word “freedom” in quotes (unless they are talking about abortion, of course). Or maybe they should substitute the phrase “bourgeois freedom.”

The Times turns to several liberal activists and Democratic Party consultants for quotes on the prospect of Koch buying newspapers. One of the paper’s sources is Jane Mayer, who first put the Koch brothers in the Left’s crosshairs with a vicious smear in the New Yorker:

“So far, they haven’t seemed to be particularly enthusiastic about the role of the free press,” Ms. Mayer said in an e-mail, “but hopefully, if they become newspaper publishers, they’ll embrace it with a bit more enthusiasm.”

Actually, they haven’t been enthusiastic about being lied about by partisan hacks masquerading as journalists, like Ms. Mayer.

I think it would be great if Koch buys the Tribune newspapers; assuming, of course, that they are able to turn their political orientation away from the Left and get them to do real reporting. Who knows, if the Kochs own the Los Angeles Times, we may finally see the long-suppressed Rashid Khalidi video! But I also agree with Glenn Reynolds that it would be more effective to buy soft-news publications like People, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Us, and so on, as well as television production companies and maybe a TV network or two. Low-information voters are the ones conservatives have the most trouble reaching, and they don’t read the Chicago Tribune any more than they do the Weekly Standard. It is in the ostensibly non-political popular media that conservatives are really getting clobbered. Still, buying some newspapers is a reasonable place to start.

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