Tagged: journalistic integrity

Why the Koch brothers’ newspaper takeover could impact women’s rights

Women’s rights, specifically reproductive justice rights, haven’t been identified as a front-and-center issue on the Koch brothers’ radar.  A recent review of their political ideologies and current outcomes indicates that affecting policies about women’s healthcare is a high priority for them. Allowing them unbridled access to mainstream media, such as their proposed newspaper buyout, [1] appears to have the potential to create serious setbacks for the reproductive justice movement.

The Koch brothers have never commented publicly about abortion but according to a 2011 report titled, “The Koch Brothers What You Need to Know About the Financiers of the Radical Right” by the Center for American Progress Action Fund [2] the top policy issue on the Koch brothers political agenda is the repealing of health reform. Abortion and access to birth control continue to dominate the healthcare reform debate in this country.

Kari Ann Rinker, a writer for RH Reality Check and former State Coordinator and Lobbyist for Kansas NOW, lives in Wichita, Kan., and believes that because women’s healthcare has become so ensnared in the political landscape abortion and access to birth control are just a means to an end for the Koch brothers.

Even if that’s true, those “ends” are having a very real impact on women’s abilities to make their own decisions about healthcare and access to abortion, in states targeted by the Koch brother’s political machinery, as Kansas women can confirm.

Home to the Koch family, Wichita, Kan., has been the site of unrelenting acts of anti-abortion terrorism culminating in the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2009. The Koch’s have never publicly commented about the terrorist activities or groups, but as Catholics [3], their religious affiliation ties them to a very strong anti-abortion ideology.[4]  Regardless of their personal beliefs, their current political maneuverings have produced outcomes in Kansas that support the anti-abortion agenda while severely restricting women’s healthcare options.

In 2012, moderate Kansas Republicans [5] were soundly defeated by conservatives who were heavily funded by Americans for Prosperity; a group backed by the Koch brothers. These same moderate Republicans had previously blocked a Tea Party led House from passing stringent abortion laws. Former Senate President Steve Morris (R-Hugoton) [6] said that the Koch brothers helped fund the campaign, so they could use Kansas as a testing ground for their ideas. “They said it will be a ultraconservative utopia,” Morris said of the Kochs.

In 2013, Governor Sam Brownback, a Koch-backed, pro-life candidate signed into law some of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws [7] in the nation, clarifying  women’s reproductive rights in the ‘ultra conservative utopia’. To learn more about a woman’s rights in a ultraconservative utopia refer to the ‘Women’s Guide’ provided below.

Since the New York Times broke the story about the Koch brother’s possible newspaper takeover, there have been non-stop discussions both for and against the takeover. The recurring theme in all the discussions is whether or not the Koch brothers will treat journalism and news with respect and objectivity [8]. Ken Doctor, in his article “The newsonomics of the Koch Brothers and the sales of U.S.’ top metros” [9] refers to this concern as the “rupture of public trust.”  Transparency is the key to maintaining public trust.

And transparency has never been the Koch brother’s calling card.  Jane Mayer’s 2010 article in the New Yorker [10] perfectly summarizes the brother’s modus operandi; “’The Kochs have long depended on the public’s not knowing all the details about them. They have been content to operate what David Koch has called ‘the largest company that you’ve never heard of.’”

Given the Koch brother’s carefully cultivated lack of transparency combined with the current political outcomes in Kansas and the ongoing national debate about abortion and access to birth control, the women’s reproductive justice movement appears to have little to gain from a Koch-backed newspaper buyout.

[1]  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/business/media/koch-brothers-making-play-for-tribunes-newspapers.html?ref=media&pagewanted=all
[2]  http://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/regulation/report/2011/04/04/9399/the-koch-brothers/
[3]  http://www.nndb.com/people/707/000170197/; http://www.kapaun.org/pages/publications/quest/archives/Fall2012_quest.pdf
[4]  http://www.pewforum.org/Abortion/Religious-Groups-Official-Positions-on-Abortion.aspx
[5]  http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/08/14/koch-brothers-and-kansans-life-alliance-that-killed-kansas-moderate/
[6]  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/08/steve-morris-kansas-senate-koch-brothers_n_1757928.html?
[7]  http://www.kansas.com/2013/04/19/2769496/brownback-signs-sweeping-anti.html
[8]  http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-koch-brothers-20130429%2c0%2c4766912.story
[9]  http://www.niemanlab.org/2013/04/the-newsonomics-of-the-koch-brothers-and-the-sales-of-u-s-top-metros/
[10]  http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer?

Womens Reproductive Rights

Resources Women’s Guide:
Singular, S., “The Wichita Divide The Murder Of Dr. George Tiller And The Battle Over Abortion”.  St. Martin’s Press, 2011