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Whether billionaires David and Charles Koch acquire the Los Angeles Times is speculative now, but that hasn’t stopped liberal activist groups from promoting a petition that hopes to rouse popular opposition against such a bid.
The petition, by the progressive website Daily Kos and the L.A.-based Courage Campaign organization, has garnered thousands of signatures. (The Kos campaign shows over 35,000 signatures added, while the Courage Campaign’s site sees a more modest total of 11,000 “actions taken.”)
“Millions of people count on the Los Angeles Times for strong and unbiased reporting, including their endorsements for political candidates and ballot initiatives,” wrote Rachel Colyer, an associate campaign director at Daily Kos, in an email to the website’s supporters.
“It would be a travesty to the fourth estate if the Koch brothers are allowed to purchase one of the most respected newspapers in the country in order to peddle their discredited ideas and right-wing propaganda,” she wrote.
The campaign says it will send the petition to Peter Liguori, the CEO of Tribune Co. The company recently emerged from bankruptcy and has indicated that it might sell off newspaper assets, including The Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel and the Times.
The billionaire siblings were first reported in mid-March to be interested in acquiring the newspaper by LA Weekly, which asked that the rumor be taken “with a grain of salt if not a whole dollop.”
The Kochs have been prominent supporters of conservative causes, notably through their backing of the pro-Mitt Romney Super PAC Americans for Prosperity, which reportedly spent $130 million during last year’s the election cycle.
Subsequent reports, including by The Hollywood Reporter, have cited sources saying that the brothers might be interested in teaming up with conservative San Diego developer Doug Manchester — who bought the now-renamed UT San Diego newspaper and acquired its rival, North County Times — to submit a bid.
The Kochs, along with Manchester, are only two of the names that have been mentioned as potential suitors of the L.A. Times.
Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation, has been reported to be interested in adding the paper to a stable of assets that includes The Wall Street Journal and New York Post.
THR reported that billionaire Eli Broad along with former L.A. Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner are teaming up to submit a bid for the paper and turn it into a non-profit organization.
Aaron Kushner, who last year purchased the Orange County Register and previously expressed interest in the Boston Globe, has also publicly mulled acquiring Tribune Co. newspapers, including the Times.
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