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Koch Brothers Looking To Buy Tribune Co. Newspapers

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 22, 2013 1:45PM

Photo credit: Jonathan Lurie

Billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch, seemingly no longer content to throw money at a political movement, are exploring options to buy Tribune Co.’s eight regional newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun, following in the grand tradition of Col. Robert McCormick, William Randolph Hearst and Rupert Murdoch.

The New York Times reports the bid to explore buying the Tribune Co. newspapers is part of a three-pronged, decade-long strategy to shift the political tone of the country toward smaller government, less regulation and taxation.

Tribune Co. emerged from bankruptcy in December with an eye toward selling its print properties and focusing on its more profitable broadcasting interests. According to the Times, Tribune Co. will send financial data to serious bidders for their newspaper properties next month and the Kochs are interested. (Murdoch has long held an interest in buying the Los Angeles Times and it was reported last November his News Corporation was in talks about buying the Times and Tribune with the debt holders who now own Tribune Co.) The company has retained JP Morgan Chase and Evercore Partners to sell the print properties.

The papers, which include the Orlando Sentinel and Hartford Courant, are valued at $623 million, which would be a steal for the billionaire Kochs financially. Politically it would provide them with platforms in the nation’s second and third-largest media markets and give them an advantage over other conservative kingmakers like Karl Rove for the minds of conservative voters and the pocketbooks of well-heeled donors. The Kochs and Rove have been working on competing voter data plans since the 2012 elections after being thoroughly schooled by the Obama campaign on voter mobilization. According to Politico, the Kochs have been working with a political data company called i360, which maintains a database of over 187 million active voters, as part of their three-pronged strategy. The third aspect of their plan includes continuing to fund grass-roots conservative activism.