Time Inc., which owns Time magazine, Sports Illustrated and several other titles, was sold Sunday to magazine publisher Meredith Corp. Some of the money for the $3 billion cash sale was provided by the Koch Brothers, the bête noire of progressives everywhere. A spokesman for the billionaire brothers told the NY Times they would have no active role in the company.
Charles Koch, the chief executive of Koch Industries, and David Koch have long sought to shape political discourse through their support of nonprofit organizations, universities and think tanks. But in its announcement of the deal, Meredith said that the private equity fund, Koch Equity Development, would not have a seat on Meredith’s board of directors and would “have no influence on Meredith’s editorial or managerial operations.”
Steve Lombardo, a spokesman for Koch Industries, also said that the Kochs had no plans to take an active role in the expanded company. “This is a passive financial investment made through our equity development arm,” Mr. Lombardo said. The company’s role in the transaction, he said, was similar to that of a bank.
Despite this, Mic reports current and former Time employees are very worried about the influence the brothers might have on the magazine’s future output.
Charles Alexander, who spent 23 years at Time as a writer and editor before taking a buyout from the company in the early 2000s, said he didn’t think the Kochs will remain “passive” as promised.
“I’ve been in contact with many former editors and writers, and we’re all very concerned about what the Kochs may have in mind in the long term,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday…
Meanwhile, John Huey, Time Inc.’s former editor-in-chief who stepped down in 2012, told Politico he also fears the Koch influence on the company’s titles.
“It’s difficult to believe the Kochs would pay a premium to buy into the print media model without the hope that they can harness Time and Fortune to further their agenda,” he said.
Another former managing editor at Time tweeted this about the deal:
Meredith wanted to buy Time Inc back in 2012, but didn't want Time magazine. The difference now is the Koch brothers' money. Even though they won't have a seat on the board, hard to imagine they won't influence the editorial side. https://t.co/GvlzoKC205
— Richard Stengel (@stengel) November 27, 2017
We saw this same progressive panic back in 2013 when the Koch brothers were rumored to be interested in buying the LA Times. As Allahpundit noted at the time, up to half the newsroom staff threatened to quit if the deal went through. The Koch brothers lost interest a few months later so we never got to find out how many LA Times’ employees would have followed through on the threat.
It’s a curious thing how the left routinely denies the media is overwhelmingly liberal or, even if they admit that, deny it has any impact on coverage. But the moment some conservative expresses interest in one of their properties, suddenly there’s a shriek of outrage. How dare you threaten to make this left-leaning outlet into a right-leaning outlet! They don’t have a problem with the bias until it threatens to cut the other way.
Charles Alexander, the former Time writer, told Mic, “I personally would almost rather see it die an honorable death than have it live on as some sort of organ of the conservative media.” Sometimes you have to kill the magazine to save it.