Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch reportedly are interested in buying the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other newspapers. That prospect has some journalists, Sen. Bernie Sanders and many others worried about slanted news coverage. Two recent articles offer perspective on how billionaires try to shape what Americans read and hear and see and think. In a New Yorker article entitled “A Word from our Sponsor,” Jane Mayer wrote about how David Koch was a huge donor and board member of WNET-TV, a New York PBS station largely bankrolled by wealthy donors. Despite the station’s attempts to mollify Koch about a documentary in which he was used as an example of the gap between rich and poor in America, Koch quit the board and decided not to make another huge donation. Then there’s hedge fund billionaire Peter G. Peterson. In “60 Minutes and the Billionaire Agenda,” Richard Eskow wrote about how Peterson has used his vast fortune to promote news coverage about the need to cut Social Security and Medicare, two of his hobbyhorses, and otherwise limit the role of government. Turns out, Eskow reported for Nation of Change, that CBS News correspondent Lesley Stahl sat on a board of advisers to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Journalist Jonathan Tasini reported that CBS wouldn’t talk about it but Stahl is no longer listed on Peterson’s board.
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