The Hartford, Conn., city council passed a resolution this week in opposition to the alleged purchase of their local newspaper, the Hartford Courant, by billionaire conservative investors, Charles and David Koch.
The announcement follows months of speculation over whether the Kochs seek to purchase the Courant as part of a $600 million package of all eight Tribune Newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and the Baltimore Sun.
The Hartford City Line reports that members of the council’s Working Families Party, who raised the resolution, wrote: “The takeover of the Hartford Courant by Koch Industries threatens to replace independent and unbiased news coverage with an outside, extreme, partisan and sensational national corporate agenda as has been shown elsewhere.
The Working Families Party typically doesn’t run its own candidates, but will put money and resources toward candidates who will support the groups’ progressive policies, which include support for raising the minimum wage, creating affordable housing and green energy initiatives.
No newspaper purchase has taken place yet and the Koch brothers have neither confirmed nor denied their interest, but rumor has been growing since March of this year, when their alleged interest was first reported by the L.A. Weekly.
“Multiple sources tell L.A. Weekly that Charles and David Koch — the infamous right-wing billionaire brothers — are considering an offer on either the Tribune Co. newspaper group, which includes the L.A. Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Baltimore Sun or the entire Tribune Co., which includes more than 20 stations, like WGN and KTLA Channel 5,” writes L.A. Weekly’s Hillel Aron.
The purchase price would be no major setback for the Kochs, who are tied for the sixth-richest men in the world, with a net worth of $34 billion each.
With a history of conservative political activism, those who support balanced, unbiased journalism worry that the Kochs could use the purchase to further their political and business interests.
“The Koch brothers have a high profile politically. Our concern is that they have indicated in published reports that they are interested in acquiring these papers in part to further their political agenda. We believe in a free media that doesn’t become a propaganda arm,” said Dale Eisman, a writer and researcher for the nonprofit advocacy organization Common Cause in a statement earlier this summer to Mint Press News.
According to the Center for American Progress, the Kochs have given at least $85 million to 85 right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups over the past 15 years. They have also spent $5.2 million to support candidates and ballot measures in 34 states since 2003.
In all likelihood, the resolution will not hold any weight should the Kochs decided to push forward with the purchase, but opposition to their interest in the papers is growing publicly, especially in cities where Tribune newspapers are sold.
During an awards banquet earlier this year, half of the writers for the Los Angeles Times said that they would quit their jobs if the Kochs took over their paper.
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