-By Andy Kroll
April 22, 2013- Not long after the November elections, I met with Charles Spies, a big-time Republican fundraiser who'd run the pro-Mitt Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future, to hear his take on why Romney lost. We sat across from each other at a long wooden table in a tenth-floor conference room overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue. (Before his firm moved in, Spies says the conference room used to be Al Gore's office.) We talked about super-PACs and the hundreds of millions they spent, the clout (or not) of wealthy donors and how they could get the most bang for their buck in a political campaign. Then, unprompted, Spies told me, "If I had the resources and wanted to impact the policy debate, I'd buy a newspaper or a magazine."
"Even in today's media climate?" I asked.
"Oh, absolutely." He explained:
Not to make money. They're not profitable. But imagine if I was, you know, a mogul that had 30, 40 million dollars to spend and cared about policy issues and elections. I'd buy the New York Times or the LA Times. Buy a major newspaper and put my people in on the editorial page and use that to frame issues the way I wanted to. And then I could claim that the news folks were separate from the editorial page but I think they know where the owner's heart is at.
Spies is not a friend of Charles and David Koch, the billionaire libertarians. He does not move in their political circles. But in our conversation, he laid out what may be the best reason why the Kochs and their company are reportedly considering a move to become America's newest newspaper barons.