Mere rumors that the Los Angeles Times might be bought by the ultra right-wing Koch brothers have shown what readers can expect not to see if the pair actually does buy the 132-year-old newspaper.
When the Courage Campaign and Daily Kos sought to complete the purchase Friday of an advertisement in the Times itself urging the Tribune Company, the newspaper’s current owner, not to sell it to the Kochs, Gabe Smalley, the rapid response organizer at Courage was told the ad had been cancelled. The reason? A salesman who would only identify himself as “Mickey” said the ad contained unverified assertions about political efforts the brothers have backed with their ample financial resources, including the tea party and claims that climate change is not happening. He also said there were no contact numbers listed for the organizations.
The ad’s assertions are, in fact, mild compared to the billionaire Koch brothers’ actual efforts to inject their dollars into the political arena. So far, Daily Kos, Courage and a third partner, SignOn.org, have gathered more than 100,000 signatures to send to Tribune urging it not to sell to the Kochs. The Daily Kos version of the petition can be found here.
Courage Campaign team members decided after the 2-inch-by-7-inch ad was rejected that they would provide both the contact numbers and links to news reports about the Koch brothers’ funding efforts. That includes this article from the Los Angeles Times itself. But when Smalley called back, he was told that the ad would not be published no matter what because it wasn’t in the newspaper’s “best interests” to do so.
He described the conversation thus:
Mickey: “Even if you make the changes, we’re just not going to run your ad. It’s not in our best interests.”
Smalley: “We’ve just gotten the citations—from your paper, from the LA Times. Even adding those in, you mean you won’t run the ad?”
Mickey: “No, it’s just not in our best interests.”
Daily Kos messages left for Mickey to confirm the conversation were not returned.
Even though it was made clear the ad would not be accepted, the Courage Campaign reworked it anyway, including references solely from the Times itself regarding the Koch brothers’ funding efforts, and resubmitted the ad to the newspaper Monday. A sales supervisor said the new ad was being considered, but the Courage Campaign had received no word by early afternoon.
Even though it is the second-largest newspaper publisher in the nation, the Chicago-based Tribune Company has fallen on hard times since merging with the Los Angeles newspaper’s parent, Times-Mirror Company, in 2000. Daily circulation of the Times has fallen from just under one million in 2000 to 675,000.
The Courage Campaign will deliver its signatures at 2 PM today at the offices of the Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st Street in downtown Los Angeles.
Full Disclosure: I worked at the Los Angeles Times from 1989-2000—MB.