Kochs and Conservative Journalism

A blog about business and economics.
April 24 2013 11:37 AM

The Koch Brothers Might Be Just What Conservative Journalism Needs

Charles and David Koch are reporting considering buying the Tribune Company (owners of the L.A. Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, and others) prompting a great Garance Franke-Ruta piece on why big city newspapers' editorial staffs invariably lean left.

That said, I don't see this as reason for skepticism about the merits of the Koch venture. It's actually why it makes sense. The "liberal media" is, as Franke-Ruta argues, largely a product of the free market. Certain niches—talk radio and cable television—are very friendly to a conservative editorial product but others are not. Which is exactly why what conservative media needs is a couple of extremely rich people to buy a newspaper company and lose a ton of money building a great conservative media product. 

Advertisement

After all, the big problem with right-leaning media in America isn't that it doesn't exist. It's that it's terrible. There is a large audience out there that's so frustrated with the vile MSM that it's happy to lap up cheaply produced content from Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and you can make lots of money serving that kind of thing up. By contrast, to build a great media company that's top-to-bottom staffed with conservatives is going to be very expensive. The possible talent pool of great reporters is tilted toward liberals. The talent pool of great photographers and graphic designers is probably even more tilted toward liberals. Finding the great conservatives out there and hiring them is going to be relatively costly, and there's no real economic point to doing so. Is your much worse cost structure going to get you a larger audience than Rush? No, it won't. It's a bad bet.

But the Kochs have plenty of money. If they want to see it happen, they can make it happen. And America would be better off for it.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Do the Celebrities Whose Nude Photos Were Stolen Have a Case Against Apple?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 3:19 PM In Defense of Congress Leaving Town Without a New War Vote
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 18 2014 3:31 PM What Europe Would Look Like If All the Separatist Movements Got Their Way
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 4:15 PM Reactions to a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Reveal Transmisogyny
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 3:30 PM How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Trick Women
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Culturebox
Sept. 18 2014 4:00 PM When The Cosby Show Got “Very Special” Why were The Cosby Show’s Very Special Episodes so much better than every other ’80s sitcom’s?
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 2:39 PM Here's How to Keep Apple From Sharing Your iPhone Data With the Police
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.