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News

Koch Bros. decide not to buy Tribune papers after all

They say they’re still interested in media, but say print is not economically viable

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KOCHS ZERO

Remember just a few months ago when we were all grimacing and marching and banging on windows outside the Orlando Sentinel offices because, holyshit, the Koch brothers were sniffing around for a sweet printing deal for their laissez-faire propaganda (while simultaneously threatening to kill journalism)? Well, without much fanfare, the Kochs – who were considering purchasing a handful of Tribune Co. newspaper properties that are on the sales block – backed off the scheme last week, citing the little-known fact that print properties are “not economically viable.” In fact, they knew they weren’t buying a couple of months ago, according to one paper that might have been bought, the Los Angeles Times; they just didn’t feel the need to tell anyone, because journalism.

That’s not to say that they don’t want to keep people guessing, though. Through the cryptic prism of a crystal known as their spokesperson, the Kochs revealed that their company “continues to have an interest in the media business, and we’re exploring a broad range of avenues where we think we can add value,” according to the Times. Well, that’s sort of a burn, we guess.

Naturally, liberal groups are calling this a “victory” for “journalism.” Forecast the Facts – part of a petitioning coalition that also launched a fun web app (kochifythenews.com) that allowed you to make the L.A. Times into the “Koch Kronikle” instantly – issued a statement Aug. 23 that concluded with a “hope” that the Tribune Co. “will only sell to owners that truly serve their communities.”

Meanwhile, the newspaper reports that winners like Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. might be eyeing the papers instead, possibly with a plan to sell them off individually to the highest bidder, while the rest of us watch our industry go up in smoke (or get smothered in Jeff Bezos) and laugh at the pieces.

Don’t get us wrong: We’re pleased as punch that the Kochs aren’t coming. We’re just a little suspicious about who is. Story developing!

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