Kurtz on Kochs Buying Newspapers: Liberal Warren Buffett Does it Without Compromising Journalism

As NewsBusters has been reporting, liberal media members have been absolutely apoplectic over the thought of the Koch brothers buying the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

CNN's Howard Kurtz gave a somewhat more reasoned view of such an eventuality on Reliable Sources Sunday saying, "Let's remember that more liberal businessmen such as Warren Buffett have been snapping up newspapers without compromising their journalistic mission" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

HOWARD KURTZ: With the Tribune company putting up its papers for sale, there have been a number of protests about the possibility that they could be sold to the Koch brothers, the billionaire businessmen who are aggressively conservative. Now the complaint has been that they would turn such papers, such as the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, into propaganda vehicles.

Now Charles Koch telling the "Wall Street Journal" that quote, "there i a need for focus on real news, not news with an agenda or news that is really editorializing." If his company does buy any newspapers, Koch says, the editorial page "would be a marketplace of ideas where all sorts of approaches to public policy issues are vetted and contrasted, and there would be ongoing debate." And that, he says, would improve the bottom line.

There is plenty of reasons for skepticism, but let's remember that more liberal businessmen such as Warren Buffett have been snapping up newspapers without compromising their journalistic mission.

Although it's pleasing to see Kurtz want to give the Kochs the benefit of the doubt, exactly what is "aggressively conservative?" Can you imagine Kurtz ever referring to someone as "aggressively liberal?"

More importantly, Kurtz was showing some ignorance on the subject, for the Kochs are far less conservative than their detractors claim. Politico reported last August:

Billionaire industrialist David Koch, who is helping steer millions of dollars to elect Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans, on Thursday told POLITICO he disagrees with the GOP’s stance on gay marriage and believes the U.S. needs to consider raising taxes to balance the budget. [...]

The 1980 vice presidential nominee for the socially liberal — but fiscally conservative — Libertarian Party, Koch told POLITICO “I believe in gay marriage” when asked about the GOP’s stance on gay rights. [...]

Koch said he thinks the U.S. military should withdraw from the Middle East and said the government should consider defense spending cuts, as well as possible tax increases to get its fiscal house in order — a stance anathema to many in the Republican Party.


Sound "aggressively conservative" to you? Or how about what Mediaite reported last August:

Koch is a board-member for the Reason Foundation (which publishes Reason magazine) and the Cato Institute. Both groups have long been vocal supporters of gay rights, drug legalization, civil liberties, non-interventionist foreign policy; and vocal opponents of things like police abuse, executive overreach, and excessive government spending on all things including the GOP’s sacred-cow military. Heck, the demonized brothers reportedly once gave $10 million each to the American Civil Liberties Union to fight the PATRIOT Act.

In fact, in some ways it is arguable that these Koch-funded organizations have done more for many so-called “progressive” causes than progressives themselves. Koch funding has helped produce countless writers who have blown the lid off rampant police abuse, exposed horrific injustices from the War on Drugs, and repeatedly criticized the foreign policy blunders of both Republican and Democratic administrations.

With this in mind, it seems that Kurtz - like so many in the media - really doesn't know where the Kochs stand on many issues. Yet he had the nerve to call them "aggressively conservative."

As for liberals such as Buffett purchasing newspapers without compromising their journalistic missions, it of course depends on what that mission is.

Herb and Marion Sandler for example started ProPublica specifically to advance their "aggressively liberal" agenda.

Funny how nobody squawks when that happens.

Nevertheless, it is nice to see Kurtz willing to give the Kochs the benefit of the doubt.

I wonder if that will continue if the brothers really do expand into media.

Stay tuned.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.