By: Jessica Corbett of Common Dreams
Critics of media consolidation and the fossil fuel industry are decrying an announcement that the media company Meredith Corp., with a $650 million boost from conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch, will buy Time Inc.—which owns Time, Fortune, People, and Sports Illustrated magazines—for an estimated $2.8 billion.
In a statement announcing the all-cash deal, Meredith Corp. insisted that Koch Equity Development—a subsidiary of Koch Industries, the billionaire brothers’ company that’s largely been built through investments in oil, natural gas, and chemicals—”will not have a seat on the Meredith Board and will have no influence on Meredith’s editorial or managerial operations.”
Denouncing Meredith’s insistence that the Kochs won’t influence editorial content as “rubbish,” Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley and former Secretary of Labor, speculated about the magazines’ futures in a Facebook post published Sunday:
The Koch Brothers don’t invest $650 million for nothing. My guess is they intend to use Time and its other publications—which reach millions of online and print readers—to promote their right-wing conservatism. The investment also gives them a way to combine their [cache] of voter information held by a data analytics company controlled by their network, i360, with the publishers’ consumer data.
Mary Bottari, deputy director of the Center for Media and Democracy, told the Guardian she thinks it “a smart move” by the brothers. “The only way they can convince the public not to worry their heads about climate change and to forget about regulating the fossil fuel industry is to create their own media megaphone,” she said.
“But not everyone believes the spin,” as Andy Rowell writes for Oil Change International. The Kochs are “some of the biggest funders of groups promoting climate denial and libertarian causes for the last two decades,” he notes. “Alarm bells should start ringing.”