May 2, 2013


The thought of the Koch brothers purchasing the Los Angeles Times so distressed staffers attending a recent in-house award ceremony that half of them raised their hands when asked if they would quit their jobs should the paper — which has come out of bankruptcy court and is very much for sale — fall into the two oil billionaires’ portfolio, the Huffington Post reported recently. . . .

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?

It’s about crass politics, not even really ideology. Nothing outside the party.

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