Koch Brothers Overreach

By Cherie Boeneman

Koch Brothers
The Koch Brothers
It is being reported by the Hollywood Reporter and the Los Angeles Weekly that the infamous Koch Brothers are trying to purchase the Tribune Company. The newspapers involved include: the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and the Los Angeles Times, among others. According to the Times, the brothers are "interested in the clout they could gain through the Times’ editorial pages.”

Missy Cohlmia, spokesperson for Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, issued the following statement to THR: 
“As an entrepreneurial company with 60,000 employees around the world, we are constantly exploring profitable opportunities in many industries and sectors. So, it is natural that our name would come up in connection with this rumor. We respect the independence of the journalistic institutions referenced in today’s news stories, but it is our long-standing policy not to comment on deals or rumors of deals we may or may not be exploring. ” ( REPORT: Koch Brothers Looking To Purchase Several Major American Newspapers Think Progress).

The Koch brothers own Koch Industries which is the second largest privately held company in the United States. They fund numerous Tea Party groups, support ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and they put a great deal of their own money into PACS trying to defeat President Obama in the last election. They are bastions of the Radical Right.

Independent Thinking
It should not be a surprise to anyone that the duo would seek to exert control over the media since many in the radical right are constantly blaming the "liberal MSM" for their failures. It was probably inevitable that they would try to extend their corporate reach this way but is also should be alarming to anyone who sees the connection between the Radical Right and the attacks on public education. The Rightwing would like nothing better than to control what children are taught. Already they are attempting to teach creationism in the schools, that evolution is not a fact and that climate change is not happening.

It is no accident that teachers are being attacked via their membership in unions. Unions protect working conditions for teachers and protect the students as well. Class size is only one instance. If students cannot learn, they cannot succeed and/or go to college. College, is after all, for the wealthy and privileged. If the poor and middle class can no longer go to college there is less likelihood that they can access good-paying jobs. They become the masses good only for doing the bidding of the wealthy or fodder for the privately owned prison system.

But the attack on teachers unions is not only the right to collectively bargain but, as Right-To-Work-For-Less laws are promulgated, teachers are being pink-slipped and public schools are being replaced by privately owned charter schools. Charter schools are profitable enterprises for big corporations but more than that they are ways for the extreme right-wing to control the curriculum. If they control what and how children are taught, they also control the minds of children, and thus, the future.

If the Radical Right now succeeds in controlling the media as a whole, they will also, to a large extent, control what information is disseminated and what is not. That control ultimately means they control what many, if not most, ordinary Americans think. It is already true that much of what we see, read and hear are illusions and attempts to keep the masses buying, distracted and misled but imagine what happens if there is no longer any alternative viewpoints expressed, indeed, if truth is completely replaced with propaganda. It sounds almost like it is straight out of 1984. Maybe it is. Truth is often stranger than fiction.

Lest I get carried away, however, most of us on the Left are VERY independent thinkers and it would be very difficult for any political party or corporations to wholly extinguish critical thinking. Truth will out. The best attempts of the Koch brothers and their ilk are doomed to failure because human nature is innately curious. Human beings only accept what we are told for so long and then we seek the truth for ourselves.

The challenge for those of us not of the same mind as the Kochs is to actively encourage independent and critical thinking. The more people think for themselves, the less influence people like the Koch brothers have.

Cherie sees herself as a cross between Don Quixote and Charlie Brown: tilting at windmills but missing the football. She has always dabbled in poetry but took up blogging fairly recently. You can find her blog here. Her passions include: politics of the liberal stripe, exploring the intersection of social justice and faith and pursuing economic justice and fairness for all. You can find Cherie elsewhere on Twitter as @crbones or @US_JUST. She is also on LinkedIn and edits her online newspaper, The JUST Journal.