‘Kochtopus’ spring retreat April 28-29 in Palm Springs

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

On Sunday, the New York Times took a deep dive into the 'Kochtopus' making a play to purchase the Tribune Co. Koch brothers making play for Tribune's newspapers – New York Times. The Tribune company has eight major print publications (as well as several local televison stations). It is an opportunity for the "Kochtopus" to follow Rupert Murdoch's model — GOPropaganda with the "Foxification" of the news, creating an alternate reality for conservatives. We can call it "Koch-blocking reality."

This will be among the topics of discussion at the "Kochtopus" spring retreat April 28-29 in Palm Springs, CA. Mother Jones reports, Read the Koch Brothers' Plans for Their Upcoming GOP Donor Retreat:

Next week, hundreds of business executives and wealthy conservative donors will arrive in Palm Springs, California, at the behest of Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist and older half of the Koch brothers duo. The occasion is the latest Koch donor retreat, dubbed the "billionaires caucus" by some, an
exclusive, two-day confab with a speaker list that features governors,
senators, and members of the House Republican leadership. It is the
first Koch retreat since the 2012 elections.

According to a previously unpublished preview of the April 28-29
gathering, the Kochs will unveil a new plan to recruit and train
political candidates
who will advance their free-market
worldview. Another priority is improving the conservative movement's
outreach to "growing demographics"
such as Latinos, young people, and
women. The preview, obtained by Mother Jones, was emailed to
attendees in March by Kevin Gentry, a top Koch aide. (A Koch spokeswoman
did not respond to requests for comment about Gentry's email.)

Another big item on the Kochs' agenda is a long-awaited post-mortem on last year's elections. Charles Koch announced in December
that he was pushing back the winter retreat from January to late April
so that an internal review of his circle's election strategies could be
completed. Despite raising hundreds of millions of dollars, the Kochs,
their allies, and groups they bankrolled failed to defeat President
Obama, retake control of the Senate, or increase the Republican majority
in the House. In his email, Gentry promises a "rigorous post-election
assessment" that "must be geared toward productive next steps."

* * *

The Kochs and their acolytes believe it is their duty to stop what
Charles Koch calls "the greatest assault on American freedom and
prosperity in our lifetimes." He began a September 2010 letter (PDF) outlining plans for an upcoming donor retreat by asking, "If not us, who? If not now, when?" At the Vail retreat, Koch said the 2012 elections will be "the mother of all wars."

The Kochs lost that war. Romney blew his opportunity, and gaffe-prone Republican candidates like Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana
stumbled in states where the GOP was poised to gain new Senate seats.
That may explain why the Kochs want to develop their own recruiting and
training operation for potential political candidates
. In his email,
Gentry says the Kochs are looking for "principled and effective
advocates of free enterprise to run for office."

Currently, there are several conservative organizations such as American Majority and FreedomWorks
that look to groom candidates for elected office at the local, state,
and national levels. The Palm Springs preview suggests the Kochs are
moving into this field, and a turf battle could ensue.

* * *

Gentry's email also hints at what may have been the Kochs' biggest
failing in 2012: They put a boatload of money behind a mediocre message
that didn't reach the right people. He writes, "Understanding key
customer segments—and more importantly the issues that matter to
them—will be crucial to educating and mobilizing key constituencies in
future educational and political battles."

Quietly, some conservative activists have complained that the Kochs' big data operation, Themis,
didn't work that well—and that their message didn't get to the right
people
(read: the right voters). So it's no surprise that Koch
Industries, the privately-held conglomerate run by Charles Koch, is reportedly mulling a bid to buy eight major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. Those outlets would give the Kochs an audience of tens of millions of readers in the United States and abroad.

With little to show for after the 2012 elections, the Kochs have been
retooling parts of their political operation. Their flagship
organization, Americans for Prosperity, parted ways
with more than 100 field organizers and its chief operating officer,
Tracy Henke. Generation Opportunity, another Koch outfit with a youth
focus, got a new president as well. Clearly, the Koch brothers are
thinking long and hard about what went wrong in 2012. Next
week's retreat will focus on the changes they want to see in the
conservative movement as it forges onward.

The reporters who work for the Tribune Co. are not amused. Media Matters reports Tribune Company Scribes Speak Out:

[There are] concerns from newspaper staff members that attempts to influence the
editorial process in favor of their far-right political views may
follow.

Among those concerned is Clarence Page, a top Chicago Tribune columnist,
who said he would oppose a takeover of the paper by David and Charles
Koch because of "the fact that they seem to be coming in upfront with
the idea of using a major news media as a vehicle for their political
voice."

Since Sunday, both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have
reported that the Kochs are among leading contenders to purchase the
newspapers from the financially troubled Tribune Company. 

In addition to the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, the Kochs are reportedly seeking to buy The Baltimore Sun, the Orlando Sentinel, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, The Hartford Courant (Hartford, CT), The Morning Call (Allentown, PA), and the Daily Press (Hampton Roads, VA).

The Kochs are major funders of the American conservative movement,
funneling tens of millions of dollars every year to build a right-wing
infrastructure geared toward reducing the size and impact of government.
As the Times detailed, at a 2010 convention of like-minded
political donors, the Kochs "laid out a three-pronged, 10-year strategy
to shift the country toward a smaller government with less regulation
and taxes." Part of the stratgy called for investing in the media.

And that has staffers at Tribune Company newspapers – several of
whom requested anonymity for fear of losing their jobs — nervous about
the possibility that a Koch takeover could bring with it an ideological
focus on the news that risks turning the papers into what one reporter
calls a "conservative mouthpiece."

According to those staffers, such concerns are rampant at the papers.
"Nobody I know in the newsroom would find it a happy event to have the
Koch brothers owning the paper," said one longtime Chicago Tribune staffer,
who suggested that the purpose of the takeover is so that the brothers
can use the publications to "promulgate their political views.
"

"I haven't heard anyone here who has welcomed the idea of the Koch brothers… the Koch brothers, that scares people," added an LA Times scribe.

"I think we all have concerns when you think an owner might try to
influence editorial content," explained Angela Kuhl, Newspaper Guild
unit chair at The Baltimore Sun. "That is sort of contrary to
what the newspapering business should be about, free press. You don't
necessarily want owners and publishers dictating content." 

It's the Kochs' explicit call for investing in the media to achieve their political end that has Kuhl worried. "I read the story that
said they have a three-pronged approach to how to move the country in
the way they think it should head, and one is to influence the media."

A staffer in the Tribune Company Washington bureau warned that such an
arrangement could destroy the credibility of the papers: "I am
hard-pressed to think of any excursion into traditional media that has
been ideologically-driven the way this one would be. The analogy might
be Fox News or The Washington Times
. The more ideological it is, the fewer people will read it and take it seriously."

The lack of experience operating newspapers has some staffers at the Tribune papers longing
for the possibility that News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch,
another potential bidder, buy the publications.

Chicago Tribune columnist Page compared his feelings about a
potential Koch purchase to the response of legendary Chicago columnist
Mike Royko when Rupert Murdoch bought the Chicago Sun-Times in 1984; Royko quickly quit the Sun-Times for the Tribune.

"A reporter asked him what he thought of the purchase," Page recalled, adding that Royko said a Murdoch paper "isn't something a respectable fish would want to be wrapped in."

But Page says there is something worse than having Murdoch purchase
his paper: "My personal feeling is I would much rather have Murdoch buy
the Tribune than the Koch Brothers."

Presumably the "Kochtopus" is willing to lose money operating dead-trees publications like Rupert Murdoch does. it's all about "catapulting the propaganda," as George W. Bush once famously said. It's not about making money from papers.

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