Do the Koch Brothers Control Your Local Media?
People who read DailyKos, and liberal media outlets in general, are fond of boasting how getting information from the sources we have chosen is like 'getting the news early.' Just today we see yet another example as WaPo decided to finally cover the HBGary controversy.
But I have a way of getting news that often times trounces the liberal blogosphere by weeks and even months when it comes to certain items. One of these issues that I got a jump on was the situation in Wisconsin.
Mind you I certainly had no specifics. While I knew about the high speed rail funding issue from getting the news early here on DK, I knew little about Scott Walker. But I certainly knew that something was going to happen regarding public employees. I knew this because my local newspaper often thrusts fringy conservative issues upon its readers.
In letters to the editor, comment threads to news stories, or opinion pieces by the editorial staff themselves, I am often taken aback by some of the bat shit crazy right wing ramblings that take place at the Northwest Herald. When Sarah Palin started prattling on about 'death panels' a part of me said 'why is this even news?' I'd read that craziness for weeks by the time she started pushing that lie.
Now I certainly am no avid reader of that rag. The conservative slant is generally well known around here and too much to bear. But my internet homepage generally provides a link to a story or editorial which sometimes grabs my attention. Such was the case last December when I was drawn to a horrifically slanted piece (subscription required) about public employees being the "New Aristocracy." I also came to find that it was only one article in a series of articles called "Broken Benefits" which used the troublesome pension situation in Illinois as a jumping off point to assail public employees from a couple dozen different angles.
So after a history of hearing Republican and conservative talking points and memes at the Northwest Herald before they entered the national discourse, I knew that something was afoot. This little rag is not in the business of doing multi-part exposes. It is in the business of covering bake sales and linking to the most right leaning articles from the AP. And when I read this diary after coming out of my holiday hiatus from obsessing about politics, it became pretty obvious that the "Broken Benefits" series was just part of a coordinated media effort attacking public employees.
So along comes Scott Walker. And it all became so much clearer. Much like a popular diarist recently suggested about later events, it was so obvious that the "Broken Benefits" series was just part of the larger effort to open the public discourse to the hatred of public employees and unions. Those articles were just part of the conservative effort to shift the Overton Window.
As much as I love a good CT, I generally thought there was more of just an understanding amongst like minded people at work in regards to this effort. And then came the glory that is Ian Murphy. So I wondered to myself....what connections does the Northwest Herald have? Any to Koch? And color me very unsurprised, but I found just such a connection, if not directly to Koch, to a Koch like figure.
I started out by looking at other publications by the owner of the Northwest Herald, Shaw Media. My interest was whether all of the Shaw Newspapers published similar hit pieces against public employees and/or unions. But before I got there, I became a little sidetracked and did a little digging on Shaw Media CEO Tom Shaw.
Being a privately held company, that wasn't easy. Luckily a certain Republican Mayor has a publication that does a bang up job of finding and publishing as many connections as they can find, and it was there that I discovered that no fewer than three people named "Shaw" are part of the Board of Directors of a company called B.A. Shaw Printing, which just so happens to be headquartered at the same address as Shaw Media. But what was especially interesting was the non-Shaw. A person named Ryan McKibben.
Now I should say up front, that I don't know whether it's the same Ryan McKibben, but that name puts us on the fast track. You see, Ryan McKibben also happens to be the name of the CEO of Clarity Media Group, Inc.
And that's where it gets interesting. You see Clarity Media Group, Inc. is the holding company that owns the conservative mouthpiece known as the Washington Examiner. And it also happens to be the company that purchased Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard from Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp.
So where does Koch come in? Well, Clarity Media is wholly owned by a man named Philip Anschutz. Mr. Anschutz is the 34th wealthiest person in the United States. He enjoys financing films with Christian overtones, overcharging for beer, and palling around with the Koch brothers.
This past weekend, one of the editors of the Northwest Herald posted one of his typical examples of right wing hackery. I decided to jump in on the conversation. In addition to countering his horrendous arguments, I also decided his readership should know a little bit more about the organization he writes for. So in the comments I posted the following three or four times.....
Philip Anschutz is the 34th wealthiest person in the U.S. He is part of the Koch brothers' "Billionaire Caucus," a secretive group of the wealthy elite who fund the right wing machine. Among Anschutz' companies is Clarity Media Group out of Colorado. Clarity Media's holdings include The Weekly Standard, the SF Examiner and the Washington Examiner, all conservative mouthpieces. The CEO of Clarity is a man named Ryan McKibben. Mr. McKibben also is the only person on the Board of Directors of Shaw Newspapers that is not named Shaw.
Now you won't find that quote in the comments section. You see, the Northwest Herald saw fit to ban me and delete all the comments I ever made at their website. So since they have silenced your less-than-intrepid diarist, perhaps you may want to create an account, and give them a piece of your mind about censorship and the right wing control of the media in this country. And please, extend my apologies if it turns out there are two Ryan McKibbens that happen to be heavily involved in the publication of conservative newspapers.
And by all means, look into who is pulling the strings behind YOUR local media outlets.