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LA Times Readers Resist Purchase by 'Right-Wing Radical Extremists'

Demonstration in Los Angeles is latest as worry grows that Koch Brothers will buy Tribune company

- Common Dreams staff

Erinn Carter, right, takes part in a rally organized by the AFL-CIO in front of Oaktree Capital Management's office in Los Angeles to protest the potential sale of the Los Angeles Times to the politically conservative Koch brothers. (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles Times / May 14, 2013)Protesters in Los Angeles joined the vocal movement aiming to prevent the possible purchase of the Tribune newspaper empire by the billionaire Koch brothers on Tuesday, holding a demonstration outside the offices of the Los Angeles Times which could be part of the deal.

As The Guardian reports:

Hundreds gathered outside the downtown Los Angeles office of Oaktree Capital Management, the largest shareholder in Tribune Co, which owns the LA Times, to deter it from making such a deal. Some carried signs saying "No Koch Hate in LA".

"The idea that the LA Times could be taken over by right-wing radical extremists just boggles the mind," said Glen Arnodo, staff director of the LA County Federation of Labor, as protestors prepared to picket. "It's impossible to believe with their brand of extremism that there would be any objectivity whatsoever."

Charles and David Koch own Koch Industries, a Kansas-based energy and manufacturing conglomerate, and back conservative causes including the Tea Party movement. They funded Republican candidates in last year's elections, through their organisation Americans for Prosperity. They have not confirmed interest in buying the financially troubled organ of a Democrat-leaning, liberal city – spokespersons have declined to comment, beyond saying the brothers respect the independence of journalistic institutions – but rumours of a bid have intensified in recent months.

The prospect has prompted an outcry from readers, commentators, politicians and civic groups. The LA Times's fate matters far more to the city than the current mayoral race, said the Washington Post. Thousands of readers signed a petition against the mooted sale.

And the Los Angeles Times adds:

Demonstrators carrying signs that read "No Koch Hate in L.A." marched in front of the Oaktree building on Tuesday afternoon. The building's security guards placed yellow security gates in front of two entrances where the protesters marched.

The protesters targeted Oaktree because the firm manages pension investments on behalf of unionized government employees, including those in the California Public Employees' Retirement System.

"We don't want that kind of thing going on with our money," said Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. "That's like us selling you a car so you can run us over."

Oaktree said in a prepared statement that no decisions have been made about a potential sale of The Times.

"Our understanding is that, contrary to recent press reports, Tribune has made no decision to sell the Los Angeles Times or its other newspapers," the statement said. "Oaktree is proud to have helped Tribune and its papers emerge from bankruptcy and appreciates our community's concern for the future of the Los Angeles Times."

Last week, a similar protest took place in Chicago.

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