Weekly News Roundup: Des Moines Publishing Company to Acquire Time Magazine in Koch-Backed Deal

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Meredith Corp.'s Des Moines heaquarters. Photo: Mark Hesseltine/Flickr

The Informer’s weekly news roundup, presented in partnership with KHOI community radio.

Backed by Koch Brothers, Des Moines-Based Meredith Corp. Announces Time Inc. Acquisition

On Sunday night, Time Inc. announced that it was being purchased for $1.8 billion by the Des Moines-headquartered publishing company Meredith Corp., which publishes lifestyle magazines including Better Homes and Gardens. The deal is backed by the libertarian GOP megadonors Charles and David Koch to the tune of $650 million via their Koch Equity Development private equity company. Time Inc. publishes major magazine titles including Time, People, and Sports Illustrated. The deal is expected to be finalized in the first quarter of next year.

Both Meredith Corp. and the Koch brothers have a significant presence at Iowa State University’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication (disclosure: where the author of this post received his undergraduate and master’s degrees). Meredith runs an apprenticeship program through the college that offers editorial, digital, and graphic design internships in its Des Moines office for Greenlee students. Since 2014, the Koch Foundation has helped to fund the school’s First Amendment Day festivities.

Iowa State University Drops Appeal of NORML Lawsuit Verdict

ISU administrators have given up on their legal battle to prevent a student group from using the Cy mascot and other university logos on T-shirts promoting the legalization of marijuana. The legal case began in July 2014, when two former presidents of ISU’s student chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws sued the university for retroactively changing a student group policy to prevent them from making the T-shirts under pressure from conservative, anti-pot politicians. ISU dropped a final appeal last week after judges had already repeatedly ruled against the university, finding that it violated the students’ free speech rights by failing to apply the policy in a viewpoint-neutral fashion.

In September, an appellate court ordered ISU to pay the students’ attorney fees and related expenses, which total more than $190,000. Damages for the lawsuit itself have yet to be awarded.

Senate GOP Releases Redacted Harassment Report Over Thanksgiving Holiday

Just the other week, the Iowa GOP’s Senate caucus said that it had concluded an internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment in its office but would not be releasing the report publicly. After a public backlash, Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix changed his mind and released a redacted version of the report — on Black Friday, over a holiday weekend when there are fewer eyes on the news. Details in the report, which include evidence of ongoing harassment and a fear of blowing the whistle for fear of retribution, reveal why Dix likely tried to bury it. The week before the report’s release, Dix had appeared on the program of right-wing talk radio host Simon Conway, telling him “with complete and utter openness and confidence” — and apparently falsely — that there was “nothing that has come to me as a result of that investigation or any other conversations with our employees that indicates this is an ongoing problem within the staff.”

Steve King Continues to Openly Sympathize with White Nationalism on Twitter

Steve King, who represents Ames in Congress as part of his 4th Congressional District, for months has been sympathizing with the viewpoints of white nationalists via Twitter. He continued his habit last Wednesday, sharing a tweet from the account of a white supremacist website founded by Jason Bergkamp, a man who has approved of Adolf Hitler. The account, for the website Defend Europa, tweeted an image of Hungary’s far-right nationalist leader, Viktor Orban, with a quote attributed to the leader that read, “A nation which expects its biological survival from immigrants won’t survive.” King shared the image, adding, “Prime Minister Viktor Orban has uttered an axiom of history and of humanity. Western Civilization is the target of George Soros and the Left.” Soros, a Jewish billionaire philanthropist invested in liberal causes in the United State and Europe, is from Hungary, where he has been the subject of an anti-immigration campaign with anti-Semitic overtones funded by Orban’s increasingly authoritarian government.

On Sunday afternoon, King was at it again, criticizing affirmative action policies for supposedly being part of an effort to indoctrinate minorities into thinking they are victims in US society.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.