Rolling Stone: Who Can Stop the Koch Brothers From Buying the Tribune Papers? Unions Can, and Should

-by Matt Taibbi

May 10, 2013- A few weeks ago, we did a story about hedge fund king Dan Loeb's plans to address a conference of institutional investors and perhaps solicit new clients among the public retirement funds in attendance, despite his involvement with a political lobbying group that campaigns against those very types of defined benefit plans. When stories by Rolling Stone, Washington Monthly and the New York Post came out about Loeb's affiliations, Loeb canceled his scheduled speech at the Conference of Institutional Investors and fled the event, reinforcing the simple idea that powerful interests can be forced to choose between taking the public's money and involving themselves in regressive politics.

We have another one of those situations brewing now, only it's a much bigger deal this time – the much-talked-about, much-dreaded potential sale of the Tribune newspaper group to the odious Koch brothers. As first reported in the Times a few weeks ago, the Kochs, after years of working through the media with relentless lobbying and messaging, are exploring the idea of skipping the middleman and becoming media themselves, with the acquisition of one of the biggest media groups in the country.

The Tribune papers encompass eight major publications across the country, including the Los Angeles Times, the Allentown Daily Call, the Chicago Tribune, the Orlando Sentinel, the Baltimore Sun, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Hartford Courant, the Daily Press of Hampton Roads, Virginia, and Hoy, America's second-largest Spanish-language paper.

It should go without saying that the sale of this still-potent media empire to the cash-addled Koch brothers duo – lifetime denizens of a sub-moronic rightist echo chamber where everything from Social Security to Medicare to unemployment benefits to the EPA are urgent threats to national security, and even child labor laws are evidence of an overly intrusive government – would be a disaster of epic proportions. One could argue that it would be on par with the Citizens United decision in its potential for causing popular opinion to be perverted and bent by concentrated financial interests.

Of course, conservatives will argue that people like myself are only talking that way because the potential buyers of these people are conservatives. If George Soros or some other wealthy, Democrat-leaning meddler in national affairs was leading the pack to become the next Hearst, I wouldn't bat an eyelash – right?

Well, that's true. But the issue here isn't so much what I think about the Koch brothers. It's what the private equity firms and banks that are the major shareholders in the Tribune Company think of the Koch brothers. Because it turns out that some of these firms are heavily dependent upon investment from public unions, which would make their participation in the sale of a media empire to the public-union-bashing Kochs severely problematic.

FULL STORY HERE:


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