Amy Beddows 5:26 p.m., June 18
Will Koch brothers help Papa Doug buy LA Times or parent Tribune Co.?
Rumors racing; Manchester, Kochs would probably return Times to bad old days
Today (March 12), rumors are flying on the web that the arch-conservative, multi-billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, may financially help Papa Doug Manchester buy the Los Angeles Times or its parent, the Tribune Co., which recently emerged from a long, agonizing bankruptcy. The story appears to have started in LAWeekly.com today. The author, Hillel Aron, warned, "these are unverified rumors that should be taken with a grain of salt if not a whole dollop." The story has been picked up by Mediabistro.com and Forbes.com, and probably dozens of other publications. LA Weekly says Manchester is interested in buying the L.A. Times or entire Tribune Co., possibly with help from the Kochs. LA Weekly says the Koch brothers may be planning a move on the LA Times, or the entire Tribune Co., on their own. (Rumors about Manchester's possible interest in the Times have circulated before, but these seem to be the first tales about the Kochs going into the newspaper business.)
Forbes points out that multi-billionaire Warren Buffett -- much richer than the Kochs -- didn't want the Tribune Co. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has bought some newspapers of late, but they are a small piece of the portfolio. The LA Times became liberal in the 1960s and 1970s under Otis Chandler, but previous owners such as Harrison Gray Otis were arch-conservative. Of course, the Chicago Tribune, from which Tribune Co. sprang, was once extremely conservative.
LA Weekly calls Manchester "a rightwing multimillionaire who in 2009 bought the San Diego Union-Tribune and promptly turned it into a propaganda organ for San Diego development." LA Weekly quotes a Times editorial writer saying, "To me, Doug Manchester would be bad enough even without the Koch brothers."