Charles and David Koch, billionaire brothers who give millions of dollars to libertarian and conservative causes and are the major funders behind the Tea Party, revealed this week that they’re attempting to buy the Tribune Company’s regional newspapers, which include the Baltimore Sun, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and five others. It would be one of the largest sales of newspapers by circulation, according to the New York Times.
As a strictly money-making operation, newspapers aren’t the smartest bet these days, but it’s widely understood that the Koch brothers have a more far-sighted plan for the papers: according to one anonymous person who was at the brother’s Aspen seminar (where the plan to buy the Tribune papers was announced), it’s more about “How do we make sure our voice is being heard?”
That voice is staunchly pro-corporate, anti-regulation, climate-change-denying, and, to me at least, pretty sinister. “The Kochs have long depended on the public’s not knowing all the details about them,” Jane Mayer wrote in a damning New Yorker article in 2010. “They have been content to operate what David Koch has called ‘the largest company that you’ve never heard of.’ ” If the Tribune papers deal goes through, Baltimore may be learning more about them than we want to.