The Koch Brothers Take Glenn Reynolds’ Advice

Years ago, Glenn Reynolds advised conservative donors to spend less on political campaigns and more on buying up left-wing media properties, especially women’s magazines. As in this 2012 New York Post column:

[R]ich people wanting to support the Republican Party might want to direct their money somewhere besides TV ads that copy, poorly, what Lee Atwater did decades ago.

My suggestion: Buy some women’s magazines. No, really. Or at least some women’s Web sites.

One of the groups with whom Romney did worst was female “low-information voters.” Those are women who don’t really follow politics, and vote based on a vague sense of who’s mean and who’s nice, who’s cool and who’s uncool.

Since, by definition, they don’t pay much attention to political news, they get this sense from what they do read. And for many, that’s traditional women’s magazines — Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, the Ladies Home Journal, etc. — and the newer women’s sites like YourTango, The Frisky, Yahoo! Shine, and the like.

The thing is, those magazines and Web sites see themselves, pretty consciously, as a propaganda arm of the Democratic Party. So while nine out of 10 articles may be the usual stuff on sex, diet and shopping, the 10th will always be either soft p.r. for the Democrats or soft — or sometimes not-so-soft — hits on Republicans.

We enthusiastically endorsed Glenn’s suggestion, but no one seemed to act on it. Until now. The New York Times reports: “The Kochs Are Inching Closer to Becoming Media Moguls.”

In a move that came to light on Wednesday, the Kochs have tentatively agreed to back an offer by the magazine publisher Meredith Corporation for Time Inc., the owner of titles including Time, People and Sports Illustrated.
Meredith, the Iowa-based company behind popular monthly magazines like Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens, has arranged for a $600 million cash infusion from the Koch brothers through their private equity arm, Koch Equity Development, these people said.

I would love to see Sports Illustrated, a consistently liberal outlet, under new management. Not to mention Time and People, of course. If the Kochs follow through on the Time, Inc. purchase, will they assert editorial control? The Times quotes my friend Stan Hubbard:

“Knowing the Kochs, I think they’d have to see it as a business that could at the same time further their political interests,” said Stanley S. Hubbard, a longtime associate of the brothers and a donor to their advocacy groups.
Mr. Hubbard said he doubted the Koch brothers approved of Time in its current form. “In their view,” he said, “they probably see Time magazine as a left-wing rag. I’m sure that they would like to see it be more objective and also to straighten it out to make it a profitable venture.”

Some say that the Kochs intend only a passive investment and an opportunity to make a modest return on their investment. I hope this isn’t correct. If I were in their shoes, I would take control, clean house, and install conservative management in every Time, Inc. property. Then I would go on to buy Meredith, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, etc, as Glenn recommended years ago.

Meanwhile, liberals at Time, Inc.–whom are we kidding, all those at Time, Inc.–are appalled at the idea of being owned, at least in part, by Charles and David Koch:

Shock waves jolted Time Inc. on Thursday after reports that Meredith, with backing from the billionaire brothers Charles Koch and David Koch, was making another run at the legendary magazine publisher.

Some insiders were worried about editorial independence if the deal comes to pass. Others were on edge because they feared the ax — with one source estimating a Meredith tie-up could result in 1,200 pink slips.

“You have to ask yourself why the Koch brothers are doing this,” said one former Time hand. “Are they doing it because it’s a good investment, or are they doing it because they want to control the editorial [content] in Time magazine?”

My Lord, I hope so! And let’s hope, too, that Time, Sports illustrated and People are only the beginning.

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