Over the weekend, liberal media types coast to coast suffered jags of anxiety after the New York Times reported that Charles and David Koch -- AKA the billionaire Jagger and Richards of the Tea Party agenda -- are eyeing a new shiny toy: the troubled Tribune Co., the parent behind eight of the country's top newspapers. The sticker price is estimated at $623 million. The portfolio includes a significant line-up of dailies, including the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, and South Florida's very own, recently Pulitzer'd Sun Sentinel.
There are good reasons the Kochs are interested in getting into the dead-tree media game. For one, with $115 billion in revenue coming in annually from their manufacturing company, the Brothers Koch can afford to toss some of those Monopoly bills into a money-bleeder without sweating much.
But the main reason is that the Kochs bang the drum hard for far-right libertarian causes, the brand of ideas that supporters say are constantly getting short-changed or sandbagged by the mainstream. Don't like what the newspaper says? Buy the newspaper. That sets the stage for a question: If the Kochs do scoop up the Sun Sentinel in the next year, will the paper become a libertarian megaphone?
Or, the paper could go to another bidder. Here are some ideas of South Floridians possibly in the market for their own daily.
This one is obvious, but not because Loria necessarily has the pocket change to pick up a newspaper free and clear. What does he have? Probably the worst public image in South Florida next to the bearded dictator of a certain island nation. With your likability in the trash, the only way out is to construct a counternarrative, and Loria needs more than an Erector Set PR quickie; he's going to have to build a fucking Shangri-La of personal renown. Luckily, the Sun Sentinel's sports columnists aren't above giving the occasional prose lap dance to hometown figures who deserve a more critical raking, i.e. Dan Marino.
Peter B. Lewis
Although he's on the down-low when it comes to billionaire visibility, Lewis, chairman of Progressive Insurance, is still incredibly influential in one certain area: weed. The current Coconut Grove resident dumps millions of dollars a year into marijuana reform, somewhere between $40 million to $60 million since the '80s, according to Forbes. As the Kochs' interest shows, a newspaper is a helpful soapbox if you're trying to win hearts and minds for massive social change.
Rick Ross, Flo Rida, and Pitbull, presented by WorldStarHipHop.com
Guns, money, cocaine, criminally delinquent moms, trigger-happy police, massage parlors, wild alligators, giant bug invasions -- the South Florida news cycle on any given Tuesday looks more like the imagined Thug Life of a hip-hop superstar than the headlines elsewhere. So why wouldn't some entrepreneurial South Florida dons collab on a financial investment putting them right at the source of such great material? Bring in the world leader in Burger King parking lot brawls to handle the details and boom, media empire.
Brazil-born and Miami-raised, Saverin was one of the founders of Facebook, the guy you ended up feeling sorry for after Mark Zuckerberg iced him out at the end of the social network. Despite his high-profile exit from the company, Saverin walked away with a hefty pile of cash after the company went public. Today he's worth around $2.2 billion. Sure, Saverin's never shown much of an interest in media before, but his former Facebook pal Chris Hughes grabbed the New Republic in 2012, so a quirky stab at the newspaper biz isn't exactly outside the realm of possible investment.
Come on, you didn't think we were going to leave The Donald out of this one, did you? The guy is already a walking Citizen Kane impression.
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