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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Activists Protest Potential Sale Of LA Times To Koch Brothers

Benjamin Li |
May 29, 2013 | 8:53 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Activists hold up signs challenging the Koch Brothers'/ Benjamin Li, Neon Tommy
Activists hold up signs challenging the Koch Brothers'/ Benjamin Li, Neon Tommy
The prospect of the L.A. Times being acquired by extreme right-wing conservatives like the Koch Brothers struck a serious nerve for over 100 protestors who rallied together Wednesday in front of the L.A. Times headquarters to protest the potential buy-out of the publication.

The Courage Campaign, a progressive multi-issue advocacy group based in California that directed the rally, gave a box of nearly 500,000 signatures from citizens opposing the sale of the L.A. Times to the Times’ security workers and demanded it to be given to head publisher Eddy Hartenstein.

The throng angrily chanted memorable slogans such as: "Stop that Koch bribe, we won't subscribe,” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, the Koch Brothers have got to go!”

Spokespeople for other activist organizations, including Greenpeace and Common Cause, gave speeches against the potential sale, and public testimony to the allegedly corrupt ways of the Koch Brothers.

Huge loudspeakers blared catchphrases throughout the city blocks: “The Koch brothers are powerless in the face of ‘you,’” shouted Sean McGrady, regional director of Greenpeace.

“Honest, credible journalism is the keystone of our society,” said Kathay Feng, director of Common Cause. “The Koch Brothers have an agenda, and they’re willing to pay billions of dollars for it!”

Activists are chiefly concerned that the Los Angeles Times will become "a puppet publication" endorsing the political agenda of the Koch Brothers. Rolling Stone noted that the brothers have also taken "aim at public unions," a worry for a union-heavy town like L.A., and that the brothers are infamous for bankrolling extreme right-wing advocacy groups.

The Koch Brothers are particularly notorious in Californian politics because of their suspected role in donating millions of dollars to sponsor the “Yes on 32” campaign. Prop 32, or the “Paycheck Protection Initiative,” was a proposition initiative that would have effectively put a severe limit on the political financing abilities of labor unions if passed.

In 2012, an 11 million dollar political donation to the “Yes on 32” campaign from an obscure Arizona non-profit revealed strong ties to the industrialist Koch brothers. Though the Koch Brothers denied any involvement in Californian politics, their history in political bankrolling and lobbying efforts is hard to ignore.

“The Koch Brothers are the worst possible buyer choice currently being considered,” said Gabe Smalley from Courage Campaign in an interview.

Smalley, the Rapid Response Director of the progressive Courage Campaign, maintains that if the sale goes through, “the story selection and news coverage of the Los Angeles Times will slowly begin reflecting the Koch Brothers’ agenda.”

Courage Campaign has funded advertisements in the Los Angeles Times warning the Tribune Company that the Koch Brothers “bankroll the Tea Party,” “deny global warming” and “buy politicians.”

Wednesday’s protest in front of the L.A. Times headquarters was one of many similar public demonstrations across the nation aiming to dissuade the Tribune Company from considering transferring ownership of their publishing assets to the Koch Brothers.

In the interests of maintaining an ‘honest,’ ‘credible’ news source serving the working public, it is clear that selling major publishing assets like the Los Angeles Times to multibillionaire industrialists known for being anti-union and anti-public pension is not the best move for the Tribune Company to make, despite the Koch Brothers’ financial attractiveness. 

"A newspaper is not just a business," said Smalley. "A newspaper is a public trust."



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