A Little Light in the Koch Tribune Fight

A Little Light in the Koch Tribune Fight

There are days that remind you that a little idealism and a lot of work can change the national conversation.

A strong democracy needs strong, independent voices in the media to dig for facts and ask tough questions of those who wield power — public and private. That’s why we were so concerned when the mega-industrialist Koch Brothers expressed interest in buying the Tribune newspapers, which include the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune and serve as some of the leading independent news providers across the country.

The Kochs have a well-known history of supporting causes that put special interests ahead of the public interest. A whole line of papers using their news pages to promote the Kochs’ their viewpoints would be bad news for a healthy media and a healthy democracy.

To be sure, robust opinion pages are one mark of a good newspaper. But when ideology controls news coverage, the public interest suffers. The Kochs’ lack of any journalistic background and their avowed interest in using the media to promote their views suggest that in a Koch Tribune, opinions would spill out from the editorial pages, burying differing beliefs in the community and encroaching on the space reserved for facts.

And so average Americans rallied. And they petitioned. They raised awareness of the dangers of a Koch Tribune, and they appear to have gotten the Kochs’ attention. Last Thursday, the Kochs began responding to protestors’ concerns, downplaying their interest in the newspaper industry and denying that “any such acquisitions [would] serve as a mouthpiece for conservative political views.”

It might just be damage control and PR spin for now, but the fact that concerned citizens have demanded Koch Industries’ attention, and have gotten it, is an encouraging sign.