Liberal activists will cheer Tribune Co.'s decision announced today to spin-off its eight-paper newspaper group led by dual crown jewels Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.
The move ends -- for now -- the sale of the papers to the conservative Koch Industries' Koch Bros, favorite whippings boys of the left. Charles Koch told the Wichita Eagle yesterday that the purchase of the papers was "possible," but not on the "front burner."
Tribune says the spin-off plan and focus on broadcasting will offer the best return for investors. It is paying $2.7B for 19 stations owned by Oak Hill Capital to bolster its current 23 TV properties. That move will make Tribune one of the biggest TV owners in the country.
Leftist activists have protested Tribune headquarters and the Los Angeles Times facility to protest any sale to the Koch Bros. Groups such as the Courage Campaign warned that if the energy baron Kochs took over the papers, you could kiss good-bye any coverage of global warming. Even worse, it feared warming denier crackpots would dominate LAT stories about climate change to distort science and facts.
Tribune's decision to wiggle out of the plan to sell the papers is a shrewd PR move. If the company unloaded the papers to the Kochs, it would have paid a heavy price. The future broadcast-centered company would have been haunted by the transaction. The last thing a coast-to-coast broadcaster needs is noisy demonstrations outside its properties.
Personally, I don’t think there should be a political litmus test regarding the sale of media properties. "There is a need for focus on real news, not news with an agenda or news that is really editorializing," Charles Koch told the Wall Street Journal in June. That’s sounds like good journalism.
If the LAT become a shill for anti-global warming zealots, its credibility and readership would be destroyed.
With today's announcement, Tribune Co. is off the hook. Liberals get a breather.
The Koch Bros though may get the last laugh. If shares of the publicly traded Tribune newspaper company tank, what's to prevent the Kochs from picking up the company for an amount that they would consider chump change.
Meanwhile, the Kochs are launching their latest propaganda campaign lauding economic freedom and decrying Big Government (a real laugher).
It's what free speech is all about.