The possibility of Charles and David Koch buying Tribune Co.’s newspapers “has struck a nerve in this liberal corner of the country,” The New York Times reports from Los Angeles.
Ten unions sent a letter to Bruce Karsh, the chairman of Tribune’s board of directors and president of Oaktree Capital Management, saying such a sale “would provide the Koch brothers a powerful and influential platform by which to promote, at both the local, state and federal level, that enactment of their anti-public pension fund policies,” Adam Nagourney and Christine Haughney report.
Two California legislators also said they opposed the sale: “I believe newspapers are a public trust,” state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told Patrick McGreevy and Chris Megerian of the Los Angeles Times — one of the newspapers that Tribune would presumably include in such a sale.
“The Los Angeles Times has a long and respected tradition of community leadership and impartiality. The Koch brothers have a long and demonstrated history of a rigid political ideology.”
Koch Industries spokesperson Melissa Cohlmia told McGreevy and Megerian “that about 30% of the company’s workforce —15,000 employees — are represented by unions.”
The advocacy group Courage Campaign bought ads in the Los Angles Times, Nagourney and Haughney write. Courage Campaign is soliciting petitioners online who will commit to canceling their subscriptions in the event of Koch ownership.
Common Cause’s Karen Hobert-Flynn, Craig Aaron of Free Press, and the Daily Kos are among the signers of another statement sent to Poynter yesterday. “This sale would create another Rupert Murdoch, and make papers like the LA Times and Chicago Tribune look more like Fox News and the New York Post,” their letter says.
Murdoch is also a reported contender for the papers, though his News Corp. would face an FCC entanglement in pursuing them because it owns television stations in some of the markets where Tribune has papers. Tribune reportedly would prefer to sell its newspapers together.
With their demands to meet with Tribune Board Chairman Bruce Karsh rebuffed, they eventually settled for presenting an oversized letter outlining their concerned to the building security chief, who promised to get it to Tribune Co. officials.
Ashley Boncimino of Crain’s Chicago Business counted 22 protesters and notes that “The plan was for ‘hundreds of concerned Chicago community groups, leaders and residents’ to meet outside Tribune Tower, according to a release yesterday from Stand Up Chicago, the main organizers.”
Disclosure: KochFacts.com used to advertise on Poynter.org.
Previously: Chicagoans protest Koch brothers buying Tribune’s newspapers | Los Angeles Times journalists chafe at possible Koch ownership | Pearlstein: Tribune journalists should ‘lob a stink bomb’ into potential Koch bid