Progressives have a new nightmare

Realistic political analysts have always believed that their dominance of mainstream media has always added to the vote totals of Democrats and progressives.  President Trump's excoriation of fake news is an attempt to lessen that advantage by helping credibility erode faster than ever from the major media outlets.

But now a different kind of threat is emerging, and we can expect screams of outrage if a couple of billionaires follow through on moves being hinted at.  Following the example of Jeff Bezos's bargain-basement purchase of the Washington Post, a couple of major media properties may fall into conservative hands and be repurposed as conservative outlets.

Peter Kafka reports in Recode:

Do the Koch Brothers want their own media empire?

They're putting more than $500 million into a bid for Time Inc. Why?

The fact that Meredith is trying to buy Time Inc. is news, but it's not shocking: The magazine publisher that owns Family Circle and Parents has been trying to combine with the publisher that owns People, Time and Sports Illustrated for years.

The big surprise: Charles and David Koch, the billionaires who are a powerful force in conservative politics, are backing the bid.

The New York Times reports that the Kochs are putting more than $500 million into a deal that hasn't closed but seems pretty far along, and could be finalized in the coming weeks. I'm told the investor group backed by billionaire Len Blavatnik, which floated an offer for Time Inc. last year, doesn't plan to compete for the company now.

We'll learn more about the proposed deal soon, but here's the first, obvious question: Do the Kochs want to be investors in a media business because they like the economics? Or because they want influence?

Conventional wisdom is that Meredith has always been interested in Time's portfolio of titles that appeal to women and the advertisers who want to reach them – People, Real Simple, InStyle, etc. – and that it either wouldn't buy titles like Time, Fortune and Sports Illustrated, or that it would resell them once it picked them up.

The addition of the Kochs, though, adds a new twist.

Up until now, the brothers haven't made big investments in media, unless you count the massive ad dollars put to work on behalf of their candidates and causes. Is it possible that they're interested in owning their own publications as well?

Time Inc.'s titles don't have anything like the reach and clout they used to have, of course. But there's still a there there – even though Time's revenue has been in decline for years, it still did more than $3 billion last year.

So it's possible the Kochs are making a purely economic bet here and they believe a version of the pitch Time Inc.'s management has been making for years: We're going to use our declining print business to build a new digital business. (Time Inc.'s digital ad revenues passed $500 million last year – a number that Time Inc. execs like to compare to BuzzFeed, which did about half of that in the same time frame.)

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit has long argued that wealthy conservative donors should send their money buying women's magazines rather than futilely buying advertising.  Those women-oriented magazines are uniformly hostile to conservative causes and could easily be turned around.

But the Kochs aren't alone.  Jonathan Randles reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Peter Thiel is demanding that he be given the chance to bid on, the gossip and news website he helped drive out of business and which is now being shopped in bankruptcy.

For those who don't remember, Thiel secretly backed Hulk Hogan's successful lawsuit against Gawker and that drove it into bankruptcy.  Thiel allegedly bore an animus toward Gawker for having outed him as a homosexual at a time he didn't wish.  He now is open about it but understandably does not appreciate being bullied.

It is hard for me to envision the creditors owed money by Gawker being forced to settle for less by barring a bid from Thiel:

Lawyers representing Mr. Thiel said in papers filed Wednesday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York that the billionaire venture capitalist is "the most able and logical purchaser" of but that, so far, his overtures have been rebuffed by the administrator overseeing the sale process.

"Obviously, if Mr. Thiel is allowed to bid on a level playing field, value will be maximized; if not, it won't," lawyers for Mr. Thiel said. The filing says Will Holden, a managing director at Dacarba LLC, the firm overseeing the sale process, should be required to afford Mr. Thiel "a fair opportunity to submit a competitive bid."

The big picture is really scary if you are a prog who depends on media support.  The MSM have been committing suicide by driving away half the public and being so obviously biased that even the remaining audience loses trust.  That opens the door to pick up properties on the cheap.  They are already politicized, so reversing the poles is not a huge obstacle.  There are plenty of unemployed journalists out there, so staffing up shouldn't be a problem.  Moreover, the conservative blogosphere has operated as a sort of farm team system for newly conservative magazines, newspapers, and websites to draw talent from.