Sunday, October 14, 2012

On saving America: Thanks, liberal media!

Ever wonder what those pesky Koch brothers are up to? Well, they're saving America, silly! As you might have noticed if you had tuned in to the exclusive interview Saturday night or picked up a copy of, say, the print Wichita Eagle (the hometown paper, where it's the centerpiece) or the KanCity Star (a McClatchy stablemate, where it's the lede). And the Kochs would  appreciate it if you'd show a little respect for all the work they're putting in:

In January 2009, just days after the inauguration of President Obama, Charles and David Koch met in their company headquarters in Wichita with their longtime political strategist, Rich Fink.

The country was headed toward bankruptcy, they agreed. Fink told them bluntly that Obama’s administration represented the worst of what Charles and David fear most: a bloated, regulation-heavy, free-spending government that could plunge the country into another deep recession. That day, Fink advised two of the richest men in the nation that it would be the fight of their lives to stop the government spending spree and to change the course of the country, starting with the 2012 election.

It's a pretty thankless task, saving America from reckless, free-spending, regulation-heavy Kenyan
Keynesianism. How tough is it, Wichita Eagle?

... Two years of condemnations and criticism prompted Charles Koch to break his silence about politics. ... The Kochs say the price for their political involvement has been high: Death threats, cyberattacks on their business, hundreds of news stories criticizing them, calls for boycotts of the company’s consumer goods, and what the brothers see as ongoing and unjustified public attacks from the Obama administration.

That sounds serious. What does their lawyer say?

The brothers say they are taking risks by speaking out. Mark Holden, Koch Industries’ senior vice president and general counsel, said there has been a progression of attacks and lies about the company since Obama’s election, including:

Summer 2010: Austan Goolsbee, then Obama’s chief economic adviser, commented on Koch Industries’ tax status during a briefing with reporters in Washington, accusing the company of not paying taxes.

Odd, that sounds a lot like ... what did it sound like back in February?

Holden, the Koch Industries general counsel, disputed many nationally aired accusations against the Kochs. Holden claimed that some politicians, including some connected to the Obama administration, have harassed the company and wrongly accused it of various nefarious activities. Holden charged that the accusations are designed to scare people into giving money to Obama’s re-election campaign and other causes.

Holden went down a list of what he said were falsehoods laid at the door of the Kochs:

...   Austan Goolsbee, one of Obama’s senior economic advisers, in a 2010 speech implied that Koch Industries doesn’t pay corporate income taxes, Holden said.

The audience can be forgiven for concluding that Charles Koch is no novice at breaking his silence. When he's inclined, he can call the local paper -- "We are under attack from various directions, both with threats of violence against us personally, and with threats of attacks on our businesses," Charles Koch said Thursday, in a phone interview from his office in Wichita --or he can have it done for him.  It seems to work pretty well either way.

Several things should be stipulated. One, local papers cover local stuff. That's fine. Two, if local people are being threatened for the mere act of showing up at the place where they collect their paychecks, the local press should be on the case and shouldn't be afraid to make some noise. That's not only fine but laudable.* Three, one of the reasons we have journalism is to make sure that unheard voices are heard. There, I think, is where the cousins at Wichita are falling down.

I'm not seeing a lot of indications nationally that the Koch brothers are unable to put their perspectives in front of the public. Quite the contrary, they seem rather good at it. If the supposed lack of voice is a genuine concern for them, one traditional remedy for the mega-rich is buying your own goddamn newspaper. (An added benefit of that approach is the addition of a few dozen jobs to the journalism market; any rimrats who sign on at the Koch Beacon-Patriot would spend a lot of time demonstrating real professional skills before they were allowed near the two or three heds a day that actually merited the owners' attention.) But as long as the local paper rolls over to have its tummy scratched every time the Koch brothers think their efforts to save America aren't being given proper play, that approach doesn't seem likely to work.

As a stockholder, I'm annoyed.

* Whether you can cover it from the sort of place where the corporate general counsel, under the benign guidance of Mr. Koch hisself, is explaining the impact of the Kenyan Muslim socialist conspiracy is a different matter.

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Blogger Strayhorn said...

I saw this story in the N&O over the weekend and thought "WTF?" for a number of reasons - not the least of which was how LONG it was. Now, in Ye Olde Dayes, we used long stories to fill up empty inside pages on a slow Sunday, but surely there's no such impetus in This Modrun World?

1:37 PM, October 17, 2012  

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