Here in the flannel-wearing, bicycle humping, composting Seattle-area, we might assume that our local media is as liberal as our love of home canning (I'm looking at you, Goldy). Conservatives in the Seattle area (along with conservatives everywhere) have ranted about our liberal media's flamingly liberal biases (this GOP Muppet is particularly upset).
But is our local media really that liberal? Or that local? Here’s a breakdown of the companies running our local radio stations, television stations, and daily newspapers*.
News Talk KIRO 97.3, ESPN 710, and The Truth KTTH 770: These radio stations are all owned by Bonneville International. And while Bonneville prides itself on being “the cornerstone of the Pacific Northwest,” the company is based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Who owns Bonneville? Mormons! To be specific, Deseret Management Corporation, which according to their website “was organized in 1966 to manage some of the commercial companies affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Today it owns and oversees life insurance, media, and hospitality businesses.” Mormons: They're all up in your business. Executive VP of Bonneville Robert Johnson donated $1,000 to the 2000 campaign of Senator Orrin Hatch (a Mormon!) and another Bonneville executive donated $1,000 to the 2008 presidential campaign of Mitt Romney (another Mormon!).
Television station KIRO 7
KIRO 7 is owned by Cox Enterprises, based in Georgia. COX owns eight daily newspapers, 15 TV stations, and 85 radio stations across the country. Like most giant companies, Cox Enterprises has donated to both Democrats and Republicans, specifically the Republican and Democratic National Committees, Democratic and Republican senate races, and in the 2008 presidential race donated $1,521 to Obama, $1,500 TO McCain, and $250 to Romney. Cox also has its own PAC—CoxPAC—which has donated to at least 50 congressional races (both Democrats and Republicans) in the 2011 election cycle.
Stacks of radio stations, your local TV stations, The Seattle Times, and the P-I after the jump.
*Because, honestly, who reads weeklies?
Television Station KING 5
KING 5 is owned by the Belo Corporation, one of the largest TV companies in the country. It had some problems negotiating with unions in 2006 that led the KING 5's IBEW to say the following: "We are feeling the only way to get this Texas Company [BELO Corporation] to negotiate like civil Washingtonians, not cowboys, is to boycott KING 5’s news during the upcoming November sweeps." Belo executives have donated to the campaigns of Bush/Cheney, John McCain for president, current Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and most recently, Obama for America (the president's 2012 re-election campaign).
KOMO TV and radio station KOMO 1000
Seattle-based Fisher Communications was founded in 1910 as a flour-milling operation but in the interim century has ditched wheat and grown to control KOMO TV, KOMO 1000, Univision, and various radio stations in Montana and TV stations across Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California. How bootstrap-y! But liberal? In 2008 Fisher refused to run an infomercial on marijuana laws recorded by Rick Steves, even though they had no problem charging him to make it in their studios. Last year Fisher acquired KVI 570 radio, which claims on its website that is "certainly one of the first to help propel Rush Limbaugh to national fame." Thanks, guys. And during the 2008 presidential election, Fisher Communications executives donated to $2,300 to McCain, $850 to Hillary Clinton, and $500 to Obama.
The Seattle Times
The Seattle Times, published by Frank Blethen, brags about being “the largest locally and family-owned and operated metropolitan newspaper in the United States.” But in reality, that claim is a bit of a stretch—the Sacramento-based McClatchy Company (a.k.a the third largest newspaper company in the country) owns 49.5 percent of voting common stock and 70.6 percent of nonvoting common stock in Seattle's daily newspaper. But this is Seattle, so the paper must at least be liberal, you're probably thinking. Except it's not. The Seattle Times is anti-light rail, anti-labor, and routinely endorses a slew of conservative candidates for office—most recently including Jane "Happy Hour" Hague for King County Council (over her highly competent and dreamy challenger, Richard Mitchell), and even endorsed George W Bush in the 2000 presidential race.
The Hearst Corporation, so behemoth that it has its own tower in New York City and probably owns stock in your mother, also owns the Seattlepi.com (i.e. the sad, coughing carcass formerly known as the Seattle Post Intelligencer). Hearst was founded in 1887 and owns 15 daily papers across the nation, 20 magazines (Elle, Marie Claire, AND Harper's Bazaar, to name a few), 29 television and two radio stations,and a shit ton of realty (including the odd dude ranch). Hearst has a long history of being a corporate bully. The company's compensation system for newspaper boys caused a strike in 1899, it printed false documents accusing the Mexican government of bribing US senators in 1927, and was smacked with anti-trust allegations in San Francisco in 2006.
The Tribune Company, one of the largest media companies in the country, owns Q13, along with ten daily newspapers and 23 TV stations. The Chicago-based company recently settled a case with its employees over a reckless employee stock ownership plan that pushed company debt to $12.5 billion. It has made donations to both Democratic and Republican senate races, but only Democratic presidential candidates. That's slightly heartening.
KCTS owns television station KCTS 9 and is a member of PBS. Of all of the local media companies, this is the only non-profit. For the sake of full disclosure, I was raised on KCTS—most locals were (unless your parents were attentive monsters who outlawed television). Sesame Street. Arthur. Charlie Rose. Rick Steves. These were our surrogate parents.
Radio stations KISS 106.1, Fox Sports 850, 95.7, KJR 950, Q Country 102.9, Gen 104.9, KUBE 93.3