The Koch brothers get a lot of pushback from the progressive Left for their so-called “dark money” efforts – that is, funding think tanks, academics and advocacy outlets to shape public policy and politics, ostensibly to their ends. But this is not a new phenomenon; the Koch brothers are just the latest targets of the progressive’s ire. For the past 40 years, progressives have made a full court press to limit money in politics, hoping people buy into the idea that money (especially conservative money) isn’t speech, and by limiting it through campaign finance reform and other mandates, America’s electoral system will somehow be clean, pure and immune to “untoward” influence.
But, reality is not nearly so tidy. Policy occurs through the exchange of information – that is, speech. And it takes a lot of money to fund those efforts. The Left knows this well, and has mastered the art of generating funding tools to affect public policy. Foundations like Ford, MacArthur, Knight, Rockefeller Brothers, Park and Open Society sit at the top of this funding heap, spending millions each year to do what…
…the Koch brothers also do.
The Koch brothers are somehow “evil” for doing it, however.
Now, imagine if the Koch brothers had a partnership with the mainstream media to create programming for broadcast on, let’s say, a nightly network newscast? How do you think that would be accepted, especially given the current environment?
That’s right. The partnering news outlet and its product would be called sham-journalism by the Left because it helped traffic in Koch “propaganda” (as this Media Matters piece shows).
Of course, when progressives do the same thing, they get awards. In fact, earlier this week, the Center for Public Integrity received an award from the White House Correspondents’ Association for its work with ABC network news on a story about miners with black lung disease.
Why the double standard?
ABC can tolerate the conflicted partnership because the mainstream media in general doesn’t care. Nearly all U.S. broadcast and print news outlets are run by progressives. So, the “truths” offered by outfits like CPI go unquestioned, and more, have to be shouted from the electronic mountaintops because that’s the role of journalism in America – to shout progressive “truths” and none other.
Will this type of mainstream media partnership with non-profit journalism proliferate? Yes. It’s becoming more commonplace, as old walls that once would have prevented these relationships disappear.
For the mainstream media – one which brands itself as being an impartial arbiter of truth – it stretches credulity to believe it can serve as both a zealous advocate and disinterested party simultaneously. The conflict is real, and I think damaging to the MSM. But, I’ve gotten over it. It’s their printing press; who am I to tell them what to do with it?
What really drives me nuts, however, are the hypocrites who believe that only they, or their approved progressive brethren, can parade about cloaked as “real journalists,” while at the same time working in overdrive to vilify and deny that same ability to others with whom they disagree (mainly conservatives).
I have a problem when I see a story like this, written by a guy who was hired primarily to say nothing nice about America’s largest communications companies. Employed, in essence, to belittle and degrade those companies’ ability to speak as they see fit. Writing stories that, without any qualms, use friendly, dial-a-bite sources who take funds from the very same foundations that fund his work. Dutifully citing facts from “expert” research underwritten, again, by his progressive overlords.
On top of this, the outfit that hired him – CPI – has the audacity to call his work and that of his cohorts “real journalism,” and then accept nice pats on the back by its progressive, mainstream partners who, in pure self-interest, give groups like CPI cover, further obscuring the line between outright lobbying and disinterested reporting.
Hypocrisy never boosts one’s integrity. It looks like one’s got something to hide. And CPI does – it’s essentially a lobbying wing of its progressive benefactors, camouflaged by foundation speech dollars to look like a bona fide news outlet.
The Koch brothers – we know where they stand, being reminded incessantly of their “evilness” by an angry, anti-conservative press corps. These progressive “truth monopolists” who so dominate the marketplace of ideas would serve the quest for truth far better if they were as forthcoming about their own efforts and those of their cronies.
For as they tell us, monopoly – which limits choice and distorts the marketplace – stands against the public interest.