Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers known for using their money to fund Republican politicians and conservative agendas, have become two of Time, Inc.’s new owners after putting up $650 million to back the Meredith Corporation’s acquisition of the company. The overall deal came to a total of $2.8 billion.
Despite the Meredith Corporation’s statement claiming that Koch Equity Development, the investment company through which the brothers contributed the $650 million, will “not have a seat on the Meredith Board and will have no influence on Meredith’s editorial or managerial operations,” their history of utilizing funds to push their own political and cultural interests suggests otherwise.
“Knowing the Kochs, I think they’d have to see it as a business that could at the same time further their political interests,” said Stanley S. Hubbard, also a billionaire and “longtime associate” of the Kochs, to the New York Times.
With Time, Inc. owning over 100 publications, both print and digital-only, the company could be a powerful tool for the Kochs to push their conservative politics on millions of readers. Hubbard suggested that they might try to influence at the very least Time Magazine.
“They probably see Time magazine as a left-wing rag,” he said. “I’m sure that they would like to see it be more objective and also to straighten it out to make it a profitable venture.”
Until now, their financial involvement with media has been limited, but the brothers aren’t complete strangers to funding conservative and libertarian outlets. The Kochs have donated to organizations that sponsor shows of conservative radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham; their foundations have also donated to groups that have provided funding for The Daily Caller, The Washington Free Beacon, and the Franklin Center.
Like Trump, the Kochs have repeatedly expressed hostility and disdain for the media in the past, taking issue with the way they’re portrayed.
“We’re being attacked every day by blogs, other newspapers, media, people in government, and they were totally perverting what we do and why we do it. We have had other people answering it,” Charles Koch told the Financial Times in an interview published in January of last year. Explaining why he’d agreed to the interview, he added, “But I’m the evil guy, so I need to come out and show who I am, like it or not.”
Keeping watch on changes to Time’s publications should definitely be a priority for anyone concerned about media being used as a tool to push propaganda meant to serve the powerful.