Will the Koch Brothers Save Los Angeles?

Diet Koch Can

The usual liberal media suspects are in a dither these days over the prospect that the dreaded Koch brothers may buy the Los Angeles Times. The MSMniks are expending a lot of ink and pixels over this supposedly apocalyptic purchase.

The proximate cause is the Chicago Tribune Company emerging from bankruptcy and possibly selling its basket of newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, the Orlando Sentinel and the Hartford Courant.  The LAT,  however, the only truly national newspaper in this group, is clearly the crown jewel.

Though others are in the hunt (Murdoch, Eli Broad, etc.), the New York Times claims the Kochs have a leg up since they are the only suitors willing to buy the entire package; the others just want the LAT.

So media liberals are having a hissy fit and circling their wagons. One of their prizes may be destroyed or, worse, converted (actually, the paper’s been in miserable shape for years).

They are asserting that the Kochs and blue, blue Los Angeles are a terrible fit and that such a purchase would be a disaster for all concerned -- the paper, the city, and even the Kochs (for whom USA Today sheds crocodile tears).

But is this true?

Despite media attempts to portray them as conservative barbarians, the Kochs, like Los Angeles, are socially liberal.  David Koch, who ran for vice president in 1980 as a Libertarian (not a Republican), quite publicly announced he is pro-gay marriage.  This issue is the litmus test for Westside Los Angeles nowadays, bar none. (No wonder the media glosses over the Kochs’ views on this.)

What may no longer be a litmus test for Los Angeles is New Deal/Great Society-style economics.  Even some of the more devout liberal true believers are beginning to face reality.  Keynesianism isn’t working -- from Athens to L.A.

Los Angeles, when I arrived back in the early 1970s, was one of the most powerful cities in the world, the media and lifestyle capital for the planet.  It is now the shell of its former self, its pothole-filled streets and cracked sidewalks lined with empty storefronts, its freeways crowded and outdated.

No one knows how many are really unemployed and I don’t think anyone wants to know.  The statistic would be too stark, as are the statistics for unfunded pensions, etc., which leave Los Angeles and California teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

Something has to change and you would think that would be fertile ground for the free market-oriented Koch brothers.

Another rap on them is that they know nothing of the newspaper business.  But even that may be an advantage.  The newspaper business has been in freefall for some time.  Unbiased fresh eyes might do something to save it.  No one else has.

So I look forward to a Koch brothers takeover of the LAT and hope it happens.  Some of this is personal.  I have a nostalgic fondness for the L.A. Times.  I used to write for it frequently in the past and it helped-jump start my writing career with rave reviews of my first Moses Wine novel The Big Fix and of the film I co-wrote with Paul Mazursky, Enemies, A Love Story. Other books of mine appeared as front-page reviews in their now defunct book section.

Of course that changed when I went to the right.  I’m persona non grata now to the Times.  Not a word appeared about my memoir of political change.  I understand space is limited, but I don’t think it’s too excessive to say that as a hometown boy, I deserved better.  I have strong reasons to believe -- even to know -- that they no longer wanted to hear from me.

I expect to be treated better under a Koch regime -- not favorably, just equally.  That would be a good libertarian approach.