Don’t sell out to the Koch brothers / Don’t let the brothers in the door / We don’t want them taking over / That is what we’re marching for!
That was the message, as sung by acclaimed musician Ry Cooder, carried by hundreds of Los Angeles residents who marched and rallied Tuesday to urge Oaktree Capital Management not to sell the respected Los Angeles Times to right-wing extremists David and Charles Koch. The “No Koch Hate in L.A.” rally was sponsored by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and community allies.
The Koch brothers have expressed interest in buying the Times and other media holdings of the Tribune Co., threatening the journalistic integrity of some of the nation’s most venerable media outlets and providing an unprecedented megaphone to the Kochs to push their radical agenda.
Said Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo:
The news media is extremely influential in shaping public opinion. A Koch brothers’ owned Los Angeles Times would mean the spreading of hateful ideology that has no place in public discourse in L.A. We already have enough problems in our community, we don’t need self-serving media playing the old divide-and-conquer strategy to advance their business interests. Stand with working families to stop the Koch takeover of the Los Angeles Times.
Featured speakers at yesterday's event included Durazo, Common Cause’s Kathay Feng and the statewide head of the Wisconsin Fire Fighters, Mahlon Mitchell, who was a central leader in the fight against the Koch brothers-backed effort to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin.
In addition to the rally, California Labor Federation stepped up its effort to stop the Kochs’ takeover of the Times by releasing a new report, The Koch Brothers Files: Community and Journalistic Integrity,” which highlights specific issues relevant to the public interest in the context of the Koch brothers' possible acquisition of the Tribune newspapers.
From the report:
The California Labor Federation believes that the City of Los Angeles, the State of California and the entire country, are best served by an objective, empirically based and unbiased free press and that public employee retirees are best served in the short-term and long-term by making sure that a powerful media platform is not controlled by entities seeking to hurt their retirement security.
Documenting the Koch brothers’ record on issues, ranging from education to the environment to retirement security and the middle class, the report concludes that a sale by Oaktree (which has controlling interest in the Tribune Co.) to the Kochs would be an affront to the values of Angelenos and working people everywhere.
In a letter to the Los Angeles City Council, Durazo and California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski asked the council to be proactive in protecting the city from the damage that would be inflicted by a sale of the Times to the Koch brothers.
The report makes clear that the Koch brothers have been involved in orchestrating efforts that are anti-labor, anti-environment, anti-public education and anti-immigrant. The City of Los Angeles is a city that supports a prevailing wage, empowering women to make their own health care decisions, marriage equality, responsible gun control, increasing transparency in campaign finance reporting, investing in American infrastructure, combating climate change and economic justice, among other policies and values. The report makes clear for all to see that the Koch brothers' America is one not consistent with the policies and values of the City of Los Angeles.
The California Labor Federation, along with the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and community allies, will continue to raise these issues in advance of a possible sale to ensure that the public is aware of the Kochs’ agenda and the irreparable harm having them at the helm of one of the country’s most respected media outlets would cause.