At a Los Angeles Times in-house awards ceremony a week ago, columnist Steve Lopez addressed the elephant in the room.
Speaking to the entire staff, he said, "Raise your hand if you would quit if the paper was bought by Austin Beutner's group." No one raised their hands.
"Raise you hand if you would quit if the paper was bought by Rupert Murdoch." A few people raised their hands.
Facing the elephant trunk-on, "Raise your hand if you would quit if the paper was bought by the Koch brothers." About half the staff raised their hands.
As Tribune Co. emerges from a four-year bankruptcy, the predominantly Democratic city is quivering at the rumor that libertarian billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch may be interested in buying the LA Times. The brothers are believed to be the only group prepared to buy all eight Tribune papers, including the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel and Hartford Courant, as a package -- how Tribune would like to sell them.
The ownership that most Angelenos seem to favor is a coalition of LA billionaires who have expressed interest in running the paper as a nonprofit, led by former Democratic mayoral candidate Austin Beutner and including prominent Democratic donor Eli Broad.
Beutner and Broad have friends, political interests, and business and philanthropic investments across the city. And it's hard to imagine that this wouldn't influence the paper's editorial content.
Three Los Angeles City Council members -- including a candidate for mayor -- asked their colleagues Tuesday to consider pulling city pension money from the investment firms that own the Los Angeles Times if they sell the publication to buyers who do not support “professional and objective journalism.”
Since emerging from bankruptcy last year, Tribune Co. -- which owns eight newspapers including The Times and 23 television stations -- has been guided by a board of directors that include its largest creditors. It has been widely reported that the directors are interested in selling the newspapers, preferably all together.
Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who called for the council to act, said he was motivated by recent news reports that billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are among those interested in buying the newspapers. The Kochs in recent national elections have provided major financial support to libertarian candidates and causes.More details on the Media Lambda
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