With rumors swirling that conservative/libertarian philanthropists David and Charles Koch may buy the ailing Tribune newspaper chain, many liberal groups are nervous about them getting control of such a wide-ranging media empire. Count the AFL-CIO among that crowd.
Here’s a statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka emailed to reporters Wednesday morning:
Today, communities across the country are rallying outside of newspapers owned by the Tribune Company to support journalistic integrity and an unbiased news media. These communities are calling on the Tribune Company to not sell its newspapers to Koch Industries, a company owned and controlled by David and Charles Koch.
Ownership of the Tribune newspapers would give the Koch brothers control of papers read by 5.6 million people on weekdays and 8.7 million on Sundays. These include many leading regional newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Hoy, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant, and the Orlando Sentinel.
The Tribune’s newspapers are highly respected for their journalistic integrity and public interest reporting. Although the Tribune newspapers are by no means uniform in their editorial views, they have maintained a corporate culture of objectivity and long histories of seeking to serve the entire communities which they cover.
In contrast, the Koch brothers are well-known for providing substantial financial backing to institutions dedicated to promoting an ideological agenda. They have given millions to right-wing organizations that want to dismantle Social Security, repeal health care reform, overturn Wall Street regulations, roll back environmental standards, and eliminate workers’ collective bargaining rights.
It is hard to imagine how the Tribune newspapers would continue to provide quality, independent journalism to the communities they serve if they were under the control of the Koch brothers. As reported by the New York Times, the Kochs’ political strategy includes changing the way the media covers conservative causes. We need newspapers that are dedicated to providing objective and high quality reporting, not another Fox-news style propaganda machine.
We call on the Tribune Company’s board of directors to carefully consider all alternatives to a sale of its newspapers to the Koch brothers. We ask that the board use its best efforts to maintain the Tribune’s high standards of journalistic integrity, and to keep these newspapers responsive to the local communities they serve.