Indeed, more than 67 percent of Broward County’s electorate voted for Barack Obama, the very fellow that the Koch brothers and their Americans for Prosperity foundation spent an estimated $30 million trying to unseat in 2012.
That was 67.12 percent for Obama despite the urging of the Sun Sentinel, which endorsed Mitt Romney. Which the Koch brothers might want to consider if they think that newspaper editorial pages can reconfigure readers’ brains.
The Kochs might also discover that grand philosophical ideas nurtured, with their millions, in the Cato Institute don’t quite translate to local newspaper coverage. Local newspapering has less to do with philosophy than with keeping an eye on influence peddlers or worrying about who’s stealing the silverware down at County Hall. The Kochs and their minions can deny global warming and rising sea levels on the editorial pages, but their newsrooms can’t pretend that big chunks of A1A didn’t wash away on Lauderdale beach last fall. There’s nothing theoretical about failing sewers and flooded streets.
They can preach self-sufficiency, but local newspapers can’t ignore homeless camps in city parks or natural disaster victims begging for government help. The libertarian promise to abolish Social Security won’t endear a newspaper to precious readers in Century Village.
The Kochs, not in the habit of losing money, might come to wonder if they were snookered into buying the Tribune Company newspapers. If it was some liberal conspiracy to get them to fritter away millions that might have gone to the American Legislative Exchange Council or the Heartland Institute or the Heritage Foundation.
Newspaper economics have been daunting enough for business execs who’ve spent their careers dealing with the confounding challenges of the digital age. Now a couple of Wichita guys who got rich in the oil patch are thinking about reprising Sam Zell’s venture into print media.
Zell came to call it his “deal from hell.” Maybe the demonstrators might have been more effective unfurling a banner with a message a couple of Zell’s fellow billionaires might actually consider: “Welcome, Kochs, to your own deal from hell.”