November 27th, 2017

So, Dave and Chuck, the Koch brothers had $650 million lying around and thought that buying an interest in an aging dinosaur of a print media company would be a good idea. Since they made their money the old fashion way, they inherited it, I could buy that they would toss money around like that. Still, they had to have some reason, right? What could the reason be?

Lucia Graves, writing in ‘Their own media megaphone’: what do the Koch brothers want from Time? for The Guardian, says, that depends:

That Charles and David Koch are putting $650m into Meredith Corp’s purchase of Time would ordinarily be cause for great soul-searching in media. But then, these are not ordinary times.

Meredith’s Koch-backed deal with Time—which owns, in addition to Time magazine, titles including People, Fortune and Sports Illustrated—was sealed Sunday night. Meredith said in a statement announcing the deal that they are building “a premier media company serving nearly 200 million American consumers.”

Observers of Koch Industries, a longtime supporter of libertarian and conservative causes, especially generous with funding for climate denial through thinktanks and research groups, say more than business is at stake.

“It’s a very proper business decision—a cheap way to wield even more political influence,” said Bill McKibben, a former New Yorker writer and and key figure in the environmental movement as founder of the group 350.org. “The return on investment on their political work is off the charts, I fear.”

There certainly isn’t a financial reason for such a business deal. Who reads Time anymore?

At first glance, the oil and gas giant’s reason for backing the bid by Meredith is not readily apparent. Sure, the Kochs have appeared on the Time 100 list—in 2011, 2014 and 2015—and David Koch has lunched with the magazine’s former editor. But what kind of money-minded mogul would pivot to print in 2017—and to Time, of all places?

“Time magazine doesn’t move the needle on anything any more,” said Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University. “It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Unless they want to influence the Fortune 500 rankings or something.”

No, that can’t be the reason. Graves circles back to Climate Change/Global Warming and, I think, gets what the Koch Brothers are after.

Charles Alexander, whose decades-long career at Time magazine culminated in 13 years as its science editor, isn’t the least bit puzzled. He is, however, very afraid.

What’s concerning about the Kochs’ interest, according to Alexander, is not that they are conservative. Time’s founder, Henry Luce, was conservative too. What Alexander is worried about is a much more recent affliction of the Republican party: its systematic denial of the science underlying climate change and how that presaged a larger skepticism of science and facts in general.

Now that makes sense and Graves has much, much more…

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