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Ed Driscoll

You know you’re in for some fun when Reason’s newest video begins with a man wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with a peace symbol, who barks into a PA system, “Here’s the headline I want to see in the Los Angeles Times tomorrow: LOS ANGELES TO KOCH BROTHERS — DROP DEAD!!”, to a cheering throng who just loves that message.

Tolerance and diversity: newly enhanced and weaponized!

Or as Ed Morrissey writes at Hot Air:

Yes, this is like shooting fish in a rain barrel, as Reason TV discovered when it began asking protesters in Los Angeles why the Koch brothers shouldn’t be allowed to buy the Los Angeles Times. Zach Weissmueller finds that either the protesters couldn’t articulate any clear reason why the Kochs would be bad owners, or believe (erroneously) that the Kochs are hard-right activists (they’re actually libertarians).  But the best explanation — by which I mean the most stunningly hypocritical — comes at about the 50-second mark, as one protester explains that it’s all about tolerating other points of view.  As long as they’re reliably liberal, of course.

No, I am not joking:

PROTESTER: We’re at a point in our history where we need to be a little more open-minded. Um, a little bit more liberal on views all across the board.

WEISSMUELLER: [The] Kochs self-describe as libertarian, and they fund a lot of groups that are against the drug war. The LA Times came out against Prop 19, which would have legalized marijuana in LA, and they’ve pushed anti-dispensary measures.  Are you worried that in some sense they would push the LA Times to the left on those kind of issues?

PROTESTER: Um, I believe that regardless of their views, it’s not what the general populace needs.

The video is a fascinating case-study on multiple levels; I don’t know how many interviews Reason shot with the protestors before whittling all the footage down in the editing bay to the most inane responses, but the interviewees are making a pretty good advertisement for Jonah Goldberg’s Tyranny of Cliches book. Of course, the chief cause for all of the canned responses is that the protestors have no idea what the Koch brothers actually believe, not the least of which is because the left’s demonization of the Koch brothers was an attempt to create an Emmanuel Goldstein villain for Mr. Obama and his supporters; but this is a case of ginning up a Two Minute Hate without worrying much about who the target is.

At the start of the month, liberal media critic Jack Shafer wrote in Reuters of all places:

Koch opponents fear they’ll turn the Los Angeles Times into a “conservative mouthpiece,” as one anonymous source put it to Media Matters’ Joe Strupp. Casting the Kochs as conservatives, which Garance Franke-Ruta (the Atlantic), Michael Wolff (USA Today) and David Horsey (Los Angeles Times) do in their recent pieces, makes them sound totally out of tune with cosmopolitan Los Angeles. Such a case can be made, of course, if you track the Kochs’ campaign donations and political philanthropy. They’ve given richly to Republican candidates and the party’s presidential nominee Mitt Romney, they’ve funded controversial climate science research and they’ve supported Tea Partiers.

But this portrait of the Kochs as proponents of smaller-than-small government and deregulation isn’t complete without a mention of their libertarian views — their long history of pairing fiscal conservatism with social liberalism. Politico acknowledged that wrinkle last year in a piece about David Koch in which he spoke in favor of gay marriage, defense cuts and military withdrawal from the Middle East. Hardly the views of a hard-core conservative. If these notions were smuggled into Los Angeles Times editorials or even (gasp!) news pages, would many of the city’s orthodox liberals reject them as propaganda? Last year, Charles Koch’s hometown newspaper, the Wichita Eagle, treated him to a soft profile in which they allowed him to espouse his opposition to corporate subsidies, high defense spending and corporate cronyism. He also accused his fellow corporate CEOs of cowardice for not espousing economic freedom. “He also never says anything about religion, abortion, immigration or gun rights,” the Eagle obliquely added.

These are the ultraconservatives the Los Angeles Times newsroom so fears? Go ahead and disqualify the Kochs from owning the Los Angeles Times because they’re too rich for their own good, but not because they’re batty conservatives or leading members of the right wing or hard right. Those labels don’t apply.

One of my favorite moments in the Reason video is the middle-aged woman in the thick light-and-logic-blocking sunglasses carrying a sign that says “We Want JOURNALISM, Not EXTREMISM,” who says at the 2:34 mark that she will stop reading the L.A. Times if the Kochs purchase it, even though, “I’ve been a subscriber for 25 years; my parents subscribed for almost 60 years. We would all be cancelling our subscriptions.”

That would include the era when the conservative Chandler family ran the L.A. Times, before it descended into reactionary liberalism after the Chicago Tribune took control. And yet somehow, she or her parents didn’t seem to object too much to the content of the newspaper back then.

When Reason’s Zach Weissmueller responds, “So you’ll read a different paper?”, she replies, “There are other newspapers in the region that are stepping up their game, perhaps in anticipation of this.”

“The beauty of competition,” Weissmueller parries.

And then, as Laura Ingraham would say, the But Monkey appears: “Yes, but…”

The But Monkey got quite a workout in the above video, as Weissmueller asked reasoned (pardon the pun) questions only to receive blank cliches and ever blanker emotionalism in response, as the left’s inner liberal fascist is on full display in the above video.

It’s now generally accepted that the phrase “It was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it” was a Vietnam-era invention of leftwing “reporter” Peter Arnett. But the Reason video is chockablock full of self-described liberals who would much rather see the L.A. Times destroyed in order to save it from the horrors of continued ownership under the imprimatur of pro-gay marriage, pro-legalized drugs, anti-Iraq War libertarians.

Or as Reason’s Nick Gillespie wrote in early 2011, “If you’re interested in complicating dumb media narratives and blowing the minds of some of your leftard friends, here’s a spirited posting at Reddit by someone with the handle epistemicfail:”

The KOCH brothers must be stopped. They gave $40K to Scott Walker, the MAX allowed by state law. That’s small potatoes compared to the $100+ million they give to other organizations. These organizations will terrify you. If the anti-union thing weren’t enough, here are bigger and better reasons to stop the evil Kochs. They are trying to:

  1. decriminalize drugs,
  2. legalize gay marriage,
  3. repeal the Patriot Act,
  4. end the police state,
  5. cut defense spending.

Who hates the police? Only the criminals using drugs, amirite? We need the Patriot Act to allow government to go through our emails and tap our phones to catch people who smoke marijuana and put them in prison. Oh, it’s also good for terrorists.

Wikipedia shows Koch Family Foundations supporting causes like:

  1. CATO Institute
  2. Reason Foundation
  3. cancer research
  4. ballet (because seriously: F***. THAT. S***.) …

If there’s one thing I know about billionaires, it’s that they only care about money. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and George Soros. They aren’t fooling me. Bill Gates isn’t fooling me with his vaccination campaign in Africa. He’s just trying to make African children live longer so they will buy more copies of Windows. Wow. Not even trying to hide it.

Now, I don’t know why the KOCH brothers want gay people to have the right to marry. Everybody knows marriage is for a man and a woman. Even Obama said that. Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve amirite? I haven’t figured out the angle. Maybe it’s like this:

  1. legalize drugs
  2. legalize gay marriage
  3. sell drugs and oil to gays
  4. ????
  5. PROFIT$$$

I don’t know exactly how it would work, but we can all agree that they’re evil.

The people in Reason’s new video certainly do. They don’t know why they do, but for the self-described “reality-based community,” there’s no need to let a little reality get in the way of a good two-minute hate.

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To be fair, the L.A. Times fell into it's reactionary liberalism viewpoint under Otis Chandler in the late 1960s-early 70s after he got control of the paper and decided he wanted to be loved by the people on the west side of town. The Times and the Tribune Corp. both lost their bearings at about the same time (the Trib and it's then-sister paper, the New York Daily News, went left in the Watergate period, to the point that the News' shift opened the door for Rupert Murdoch to buy the N.Y. Post and take it to the right of the News at the end of 1976).

The Trib eventually dumped the News in large part because by having a paper now ideologically in tune not only with its liberal Newspaper Guild leaders but with the folks over at the New York Times, they put themselves in the same position as the failing Post before Murdoch bought it -- the tabloid that appealed to people who snobbishly disdained tabloids. And Otis' lurch left took longer to have a negative effect, but it eventually was one of the reasons the L.A. Times was sold to the Tribune Corp. just 13 years ago -- because when the first effects of the Internet were felt in the late 1990s, the Times had already angered and lost enough of its readership it was one of the first big papers hit hard by the move to alternate media.

Go back 60 years and the L.A. Times was conservative, but by the time of the Trib's buy-out in 2000, it was one liberal paper selling out to another liberal paper. That's why the Times' newsroom really didn't give a damn about that sale.
1 year ago
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I am totally looking forward to seeing Gorillaz' theatrical spectacle on ancient Chinese themes, "Monkey: Journey to the West," at Lincoln Center in NYC, in the elegant - wait for it! - David H. Koch Theater. Can't wait! Gee, thanks, evil Koch Brothers!
1 year ago
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