Sunday, April 21, 2013

Do The Koch Brothers Even Have A Rosebud?


I have to admit, but probably only because it all went down when I was a kid who was old enough to really, really pay attention, that I'm kind of looking forward to seeing the All The President's Men 'Revisited'.

Of course, one of the things that was most exciting about the original movie was the depiction of how the Washington Post was supposed to have actually worked back in the day.

And now?

Well, there's this, as described by Alessandra Stanley in her NYT review of the documentary:

...(W)hat’s most obvious in this look backward is how far The Washington Post has fallen since its heyday, those so-called “fat” days, as Mr. Woodward puts it. The Post, like so many newspapers, has been struggling with falling circulation and advertising revenue. Last year the paper turned to the Ford Foundation for a grant to finance four new reporters...

Now, of course, what stripped all the 'fat' away from big city dailies everywhere is the internet.

Which, maybe (but I doubt it) leaky paywalls will fix.

But there is something else going on...

Which is that the decrease in the value of newspapers, and the clustering of so many of them into conglomerates, makes them ripe for the picking by propagandists with deep pockets.

Case in point, the infamous Koch brothers are apparently gearing up to do a little harvesting of a whole lot of low hanging American broadsheet fruit for a mere $600 million, give or take the cost of a bogus Bollywood awards show or three.

Amy Chozick has that story, also in the NYT. Here's her lede:

Three years ago, Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists and supporters of libertarian causes, held a seminar of like-minded, wealthy political donors at the St. Regis Resort in Aspen, Colo. They laid out a three-pronged, 10-year strategy to shift the country toward a smaller government with less regulation and taxes.

The first two pieces of the strategy — educating grass-roots activists and influencing politics — were not surprising, given the money they have given to policy institutes and political action groups. But the third one was: media.

Other than financing a few fringe libertarian publications, the Kochs have mostly avoided media investments. Now, Koch Industries, the sprawling private company of which Charles G. Koch serves as chairman and chief executive, is exploring a bid to buy the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant...


Charles William Randolph Conrad Foster Kane Hearst never looked so good.

One of the things that really struck me as I watched the original 'All The President's Men' on a little square in the seat-back in front of me while I rode the cigar tube to New Cleveland recently was just how much work went into finding a phone number or a financial record back in the days before the Google...Now, of course, the ease and speed of finding mountains of that kind of information is both a curse and a blessing... 
And, for the record, I read Ms. Stanley's piece quoted above in the dead-tree version of  Friday's Times...As for the WaPo itself...I do try to buy it occasionally, but the few places I can find it in town are off the bike route...
And, for the historical record, I read Woodward and Bernstein's book in two long nights on an air mattress, on a rumpus room floor, in Boise Idaho in the summer of 1976 before I saw the movie...



Beijing York said...

Isn't the Chicago Tribune where the late, great Roger Ebert made his career? He must be rolling in his fresh grave.

A few weeks ago, I had a call from subscription sales for the Globe and Mail. When I declined their offer and the person asked why, I said "your paper is too right wing for my liking". The person on the other end was surprised and said, "I've never heard anyone say that before". I think I should start saying the same thing for every other newspaper that comes calling - it certainly got me off the G&M call list.

RossK said...


Never heard that one before?


Sounds like, perhaps you were their 2nd call?