Protesters Target Koch Brothers' Potential L.A. Times Bid

Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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Several dozen people gathered in Beverly Hills on Thursday to protest the prospect of the Koch brothers -- billionaire Libertarians who have donated millions to conservative causes -- purchasing the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

The protesters amassed at Will Rogers Memorial Park across the street from the tony Beverly Hills Hotel. There, they complained about Republicans, tried with limited success to agree on a cohesive anti-Koch chant, then marched toward the very expensive home of Tribune chairman Bruce Karsh, but stopped short because they wanted to remain on busy Benedict Canyon Drive where they'd be seen by more people. A dozen cops from the Beverly Hills Police Department, some on bicycles, trailed the group on its half-mile trek.

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The demonstration was organized by Lauren Steiner, a liberal activist and one of Karsh's neighbors.   

"The idea is to basically 'out' him as the person who could sell our beloved Times to the evil Koch brothers," Steiner told The Hollywood Reporter before the march toward Karsh's home began.

The protesters also object to the possibility that other newspapers owned by Times' parent Tribune Co. could be bought by Charles and David Koch.

Tribune said months ago that it might sell its publishing assets in order to focus on its television and Internet businesses, and insiders confirm the Koch brothers have expressed an interest.

"One, two, three, fo,' send the Kochs to Guantanamo," one man chanted Thursday. "Keep the Koch-cain out of L.A.," another man shouted at cars that drove by the demonstration.

During the march toward Karsh's house, protesters mostly settled on the rhythmic chant, "Bruce Karsh, don't be a dope, don't sell the paper to the Kochs," accompanied by bongo.

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Some of the protesters, including a few who are Beverly Hills residents and live near Karsh, are part of the Occupy Wall Street movement that rails against the richest 1 percent. They complained at the rally that the Koch brothers earn $13 million per day.

Kathy Feng, director of the liberal organization California Common Cause, told the crowd of about 60 people that many Times employees support the effort to prevent the Koch brothers from buying the newspaper, but fearing reprisal, they didn't attend the rally.

Another speaker, Rabbi Jonathan Klein of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, led a prayer asking that God help Karsh say no to the Kochs, whose "hostile takeover" of the Times would lead to less diversity and more pollution, animal cruelty and poverty in Los Angeles.

A representative of Koch Industries didn't respond to a request for comment. A representative from Tribune declined to comment.   

Email: Paul.Bond@thr.com.

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