Conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch have made no secret of their political affiliations. As of 2011, they have donated nearly $3 million to politicians, over 80% belonging to the Republican party. They have been outspoken about their anti-environmentalism and anti-health care reform stances. As a 1980 Libertarian vice presidential candidate, David Koch said he would end social security, the FBI, the CIA, and public schools.
These clearly partisan beliefs present a serious ethical conflict with the Koch brothers’ latest potential business venture: the purchase of several Tribune Company newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel and Hartford Courant.
Luckily, the staff and readership of these papers have displayed the integrity the Koch brothers apparently lack.
At a recent Los Angeles Times staff event, half of those present raised their hands when columnist Steve Lopez asked, ‘Raise your hand if you would quit if the paper was bought by the Koch brothers.’ In a letter to the leading shareholder of the Tribune Company, ten public employee unions spoke out against the possible sale.
The general public seems none too pleased, either, with numerous organizations collecting hundreds of thousands of protesting signatures. Even politicians have recognized the unsavory ethics of the possible move, with leaders of the California state legislature, LA City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders making moves to prevent the acquisition.
The conflict of interests between the Koch brothers’ very clear political opinions and the neutrality required by quality professional journalism is blatant, and the staff of the Los Angeles Times must be commended for their commitment to the integrity of their work.
To stand with the staff of the Los Angeles Times, follow the links below.