Sun Sentinel Sell-Out

Tim Suereth

The Sun Sentinel newspaper is on the chopping block to be sold-off as part of a post bankruptcy liquidation sale of the Tribune Company newspapers, but journalists across the country are protesting the potential purchase by two oil barons who have been repeatedly charged with manipulating the tea party movement, and the minds of Americans.

The Sun Sentinel began producing South Florida news in 1990 as the Ft. Lauderdale Weekly Herald. The paper merged with the Everglades Breeze in 1925 and was then renamed The Sentinel. The paper was sold to Gore publishing in 1953, and then in 1963 the Tribune company bought Gore publishing and gained control of South Florida’s second largest print publication.

The Sun Sentinel covers Miami, Broward and Palm Beach counties with a circulation of approximately 250,000 per day. It’s part of a group of eight newspapers that the Tribune company currently owns but intends to sell to the highest bidder.

The Sun Sentinel, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Hartford Courant, Baltimore Sun, The Morning Call, The Daily Press and Orlando Sentinel are all up-for-sale.

The Tribune Co. had been a publicly traded company until Chicago real estate mogul Sam Zell purchased the media conglomerate through a leveraged buyout in 2007 for $8 billion, and subsequently drained the company of it’s assets, increased it’s debt to $13 billion and drove it into bankruptcy.

The Tribune has recently emerged from bankruptcy protection and is now gearing-up to sell-off it’s entire print news portfolio, in a bundle, to two billionaire brothers who made their fortune in the oil business, and who many believe will use the newspaper to promote their laissez faire anti-regulation Republican agenda.

Tim Suereth

The Tribune will keep all of it’s 23 television stations, but will sell their entire newspaper portfolio. The newspapers are valued at about $623 million but the sale is projected to fetch somewhere between $700 million and $1 billion, mainly due to the propaganda potential of the widely circulated and highly regarded news publications.

The Koch brothers have been reported to be the most likely buyers of the Tribune newspapers. They are regarded by many to be among the largest manipulators in American politics, American culture, and in what Americans believe to be true regarding the environment, economy, healthcare and politics.

Who Are The Koch Brothers And Why Would They Buy The Sun Sentinel:

Koch Industries earns $115 billion per year. Their main interests are in oil, energy, manufacturing, and in the politics of running a profitable business – which now means buying the media. An investment in the Tribune newspapers would account for less than 1% of their annual revenues – It’s a small price to pay to publish and promote their version of the news to millions of readers.

The Koch brothers, through Koch Industries and other Koch related entities, fund politicians, think tanks, universities and other sources of influence to impart their views onto the American public. They are now venturing directly into buying the media, which will allow the brothers to side-step the costly practice of paying for advertising in the hope of getting “good press.”

News should be free and it should be in the publics best interest. News should not be for the best interest of energy companies, their owners or business partners. Demonstrations have occurred in each city where the Tribune has a newspaper to proclaim that the Koch brothers would be bad news for the news business.

During a 2010 conservative movement event, the Koch brothers laid out a 10-year strategy to limit governmental regulations and to build a right-wing infrastructure in every state to reduce the size and scope of government, and to reduce taxes on corporate earnings. Part of their three-pronged strategy to re-educate America included “investments in the media.” The brothers are so concerned about negative press that they have devoted an entire section of their corporate website to refute claims the company does not agree with, and to discredit or defame Journalists who Koch Industries seems to have targeted for retribution.

Clarence Page, a Chicago Tribune columnist, opposes the sale of the Tribune to David and Charles Koch. She said, “they seem to be coming in upfront with the idea of using a major news media as a vehicle for their political voice.” They have donated millions to organizations that attack campaign spending limits, deny climate change, restrict health care, reduce workers rights – all in an effort to increase their shareholder and personal earnings.

The Koch brothers have founded or funded the CATO Institute, Americans For Prosperity, The Heritage Foundation, The Heartland Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). and other groups that promote an extreme right-wing conservative agenda. They have also took over the the Tea Party Movement and turned it into their own political hit squad. The duo might also soon control the editorial content of the largest newspapers in the largest cities in the country. Can credible news survive?

The Tribune newspapers, like many other print publications, are not self sustaining businesses. Their main future utility is to influence readers and to advertise on behalf of for-profit commercial corporations. The Koch brother purchase of the Tribune newspapers would signal the demise of traditional daily newspapers; replaced with propaganda portals for the super wealthy. The Sun Sentinel doesn’t need a Koch problem.