Show of hands: Half of staffers at L.A. Times say they would quit if Koch brothers buy the paper


When Rupert Murdoch, whose company now owns Fox News, purchased the Chicago Sun-Times in 1984, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Mike Royko quit the paper and jumped to the Chicago Tribune.

Royko said: “No self-respecting fish would want to be wrapped in a Murdoch paper…[H]is goal is not quality journalism. His goal is vast political power for Rupert Murdoch.”

I’m reminded of that story by THIS REACTION to rumors that right-wing libertarian brothers Charles and David Koch might buy a group of newspaper that includes the Los Angeles Times:

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.

Current owner of the LA Times, Sam Zell, has been painted as the devil incarnate for slashing the editorial staff and for his vulgar demeanor.

But at least, editorially, he’s stayed out of the reporters’ business. There hasn’t been propaganda reporting, and there aren’t topics that are off-limits to the staff, according to a few Times reporters. The editorial page, definitely leaning left but not afraid, for example, to chastise unions, hasn’t changed much since Zell bought the Tribune Co., owner of the newspaper and eight others, in 2007.

That may not be the case under the paper’s future leadership, even if the group favored by the staff and readers takes over…

The ownership that most Angelenos seem to favor is a coalition of LA billionaires who have expressed interest, led by former Democratic mayoral candidate Austin Beutner and including prominent Democratic donor Eli Broad.


It is likely that the Beutner coalition sees an LA Times purchase not just as a business investment, but as a local vanity project and perhaps an occasional outlet for their own interests. That’s generally how it goes with newspaper owners.

That may not be wonderful, but it’s far better that than what the Koch brothers would likely turn the Times into — namely, a national bullhorn for conservative causes like lowering taxes and lessening regulation. At a conservative conference in Aspen, Colo., three years ago, the brothers said their 10-year political plan includes using the media  to advocate for smaller government.



  1. Neftali

    The Koch brothers should also buy the NY Times and get 1/2 of their staff to quit. While they are at it, they should try to take over a couple of ultra-liberal Universities and get 1/2 of the leftists to leave them too.

  2. Neftali: You’re referring, I suppose, to the prestigious Ivy League universities and not to such schools as those founded by intellectual giants like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, right?

    And I suppose you think right-wing newspapers like Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post and the Moonie-owned Washington Times are better than the New York Times, right?

    Very funny.

    The New York Times has long been the most prestigious paper in America — and that distinction just annoys the hell out of the wingnuts.

  3. By the way, Neftali: The Koch brothers both attended M.I.T. in Boston, which is not exactly a hotbed of conservatism.

    For example, a team of academics at M.I.T. recently published a study that challenged the popular belief that conservatives give more to charity than liberals.

  4. Craig Knauss

    I thought I saw something recently that the Koch brothers were also trying to buy the Chicago Tribune. That would move the Trib from rightwing to far-rightwing. Hardly and improvement.

    I was a Sun-Times reader when Murdoch bought it. He turned it to trash overnight. If I remember correctly, when he sold it, he lost his shirt. (Proof that justice ultimately prevails.)

  5. Steverino

    The Krooked brothers with all of their wealth just want it all even if it means the end of democracy. Fortunately neither one is a spring chicken.

  6. The Kochbite brothers should buy News Corp… oh wait, they own it already.

  7. Luke: Rupert Murdoch owns News Corp.

  8. Neftali

    Kochbite? Geez…no sexual innuendos there. Stay classy, libs.

  9. Craig Knauss

    Gee, Nef, would you prefer if Luke called them something really classy like “Kenyan-born, Muslim, Marxists”?

  10. Brian Opsahl

    Nef, Hasn’t seen the work of guy’s like nuss,terry,wilson,and there ilk…to them Kochbite doesn’t even compare to there Nazi calling names all the time…only when somebody on the left say’s something they don’t like ….then it’s a problem….hhhmm

  11. Brian Opsahl

    Don’t forget Socialist…Craig

  12. The term I used was meant to provoke. I think this is Job One for any vulgarism, so no regrets on my part.

    And thanks Pat. I am aware that Murdoch owns News Corp. I meant to infer that the Koch Brothers already have a prominent mouthpiece for their far right corporatist views in Fox, so there would be nothing gained in actually owning the company. No dissent to stifle there. Ailes does that perfectly now.

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