The New Yorker on David and Charles Koch
The New Yorker's Jane Mayer breathlessly profiles Charles and David Koch in an article headlined "Covert Operations: The Billionaire Brothers Who Are Waging a War Against Obama."
The idea that the campaign is "covert" is echoed in the text of the article, which says, "In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular."
Ms. Mayer also uses an anonymous quote to try to prove her point: "The Republican campaign consultant said of the family's political activities, 'To call them under the radar is an understatement. They are underground!'"
But there's nothing covert or stealthy or underground about it, as evidenced by the fact that Ms. Mayer is able to write about it in her article. The details are readily available on Web sites, federal election records available on the Internet, and in tax returns that are posted on Web sites.
Ms. Mayer lets "Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group," sum up the Koch brothers: "The Kochs are on a whole different level. There's no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I've been in Washington since Watergate, and I've never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times."
Charles Lewis is a left-winger and the Center for Public Integrity gets its funding from left-wing foundations including George Soros's Open Society Institute and Barbra Streisand's Streisand Foundation.
The New Yorker also quotes "Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, who once worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that the Kochs fund." Yet Mr. Bartlett since the Bush administration has been a harsh public critic of conservatives.
Here's Ms. Mayer's take on F.A. Hayek:
No mention of Hayek's Nobel prize, or of the fact that his work has been highly praised by none other than President Obama's economic policy aide Lawrence Summers.
Ms. Mayer describes what she calls "the Kochs' subsidization of a pro-corporate movement." But a lot of Koch-backed institutions would be more accurately characterized as pro-individual or pro-small-government than as "pro-corporate." These think thanks and professors and groups were criticizing ObamaCare when the drug companies were backing it, criticizing TARP when the investment banks were backing it, criticizing the auto bailout when GM and Chrysler were begging for it, criticizing "clean energy" subsidies when GE and Ford were begging for them.
Ms. Mayer tries to suggest something is wrong with the Koch family backing George Mason University.
But there's nothing the slightest bit unusual about a publicly funded university also accepting private funds with some strings attached. Stephen Ross gave $100 million to the University of Michigan and had the business school named after him. The Walton family gave the University of Arkansas $300 million.
Ms. Mayer uses an anonymous source to accuse the Kochs:
How is that any different from what Ms. Mayer is doing with the neutral sounding "Center for Public Integrity" and "National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy"?
She does the same thing with the neutral sounding "Constitutional Accountability Center," which she describes only as "a think tank":
The Constitutional Accountability Center is run by a bunch of Clinton and Carter appointees. In Ms. Mayer's world, the left-wing think tanks are nonpartisan watchdogs, but the free-market ones are part of some covert stealth nefarious plot to create "slippery organizations with generic-sounding names" by two brothers who are big corporate polluters. It's an amazing double standard.
Even Robert Strauss, hired by the Koch brothers, is described by the New Yorker as "a premier Washington lobbyist." The article doesn't mention he was a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. It's almost as if they don't want to confuse readers by suggesting that these bad guys the Koch brothers might have anything to do with any Democrats.
Grover Norquist is characterized as "The conservative operative Grover Norquist, who is known for praising 'throat slitters' in politics." Is known by whom? I've probably been in a room with Mr. Norquist a dozen times and have not once heard him speak of slitting anyone's throat. It's amazing how a journalist can shape a reader's perception of someone with a phrase like that. She could just have easily said, "the conservative operative Grover Norquist, who was an editor of the Harvard Crimson," which would be just as accurate, but would leave a different impression.
The giveaway paragraph comes at the end of the long New Yorker piece:
The New Yorker and Jane Mayer find the Koch brothers' beliefs "puzzling," but 55% of Americans don't. Somehow, a majority of Americans can understand what Ms. Mayer, with her Fieldston, Yale and Oxford education, finds so puzzling.
One somewhat satisfying note: the piece concludes by noticing President Obama's own Austin rant against Americans for Prosperity, which we mentioned here first in connection with the Koch brothers back on August 11. FutureOfCapitalism.com: read the New Yorker's newsworthy content here first 12 days in advance, for free, without all the excess verbiage, the elitism, and the left-wing bias!
Disclosure: FutureOfCapitalism.com has received not a dime from the Koch brothers or any of their affiliates.
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