“Citizen Koch,” a documentary about money in politics focused on the Wisconsin uprising, was shunned by PBS for fear of offending billionaire industrialist David Koch, who has given $23 million to public television, according to Jane Mayer of the New Yorker. The dispute highlights the increasing role of private money in “public” television and raises even further concerns about the Kochs potentially purchasing eight major daily newspapers.
The film from Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Carl Deal and Tia Lessin documents how the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision helped pave the way for secret political spending by players like the Kochs, who contributed directly and indirectly to the election of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in 2010 and came to his aid again when the battle broke out over his effort to limit collective bargaining.
Originally slated to appear on PBS stations nationwide as part of the “Independent Lens” series, “Citizen Koch” had its funding pulled after David Koch was offended by another PBS documentary critical of the billionaire industrialists.
“People like the Kochs have worked for decades to undermine public funding for institutions like PBS,” Deal told the Center for Media and Democracy. “When public dollars dry up, private dollars come in to make up for the shortfall.”
And that private funding can conflict with PBS’ “public” mission and its editorial integrity. The PBS distributor “backed out of the partnership because they came to fear the reaction our film would provoke,” Deal and Lessin said in a statement. “David Koch, whose political activities are featured in the film, happens to be a public-television funder and a trustee of both [New York PBS member station] WNET and [Boston member station] WGBH. This wasn’t a failed negotiation or a divergence of visions; it was censorship, pure and simple.”
WASHINGTON — The owner of the Ambassador Bridge has filed a lawsuit against a number of federal officials — the U.S. secretaries of state, transportation and homeland security among them — and the Canadian government as the company tries to block the building of a rival Detroit River bridge, and force approval for its own second span to Windsor.
The new complaint, now quietly winding its way through federal court in Washington, D.C., was filed in February but was dated Nov. 9, just three days after last year’s referendum in which Michigan voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have required a statewide and local vote before the state spent any money on a new international bridge or tunnel to Canada.
In the lawsuit, the Detroit International Bridge Co., the family business controlled by Manuel (Matty) Moroun that owns the 84-year-old Ambassador Bridge, claims a “perpetual and exclusive franchise right” to operate the crossing free of competition from another span. It says the proposed New International Trade Crossing would “destroy” the value of its franchise, and argues that the process by which the State Department would approve a deal between Michigan and Canada to build the rival bridge is unconstitutional.
In a communications landscape where everything is up for grabs, the most powerful—and self-serving—players are grabbing for everything. And decisions that President Obama and his next appointee to chair the Federal Communications Commission will make in the coming months could well decide whether new media robber barons will dominate the local, state and national discourse.
Rupert Murdoch has renewed his push to have the FCC scrap its thirty-eight-year-old media cross-ownership rule, which bars him from buying up the daily newspaper, the largest television and radio stations, and the top digital news and entertainment sites in major American cities. Murdoch wants to rule the roost in Los Angeles, where he already owns TV stations and is salivating at the prospect of combining them with the Los Angeles Times, the nation’s fourth-largest newspaper, which the Tribune Company is putting up for sale.
If the FCC clears the way for greater media consolidation, Murdoch could face competition from even more ambitious players, including the Koch brothers. LA Weekly reports that the billionaire funders of right-wing campaigns might begin backing up their political projects with purchases from a Tribune stable that includes the largest newspapers in California, Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland, as well as media properties in battleground states like Florida and Virginia.
Newspapers no longer make the kind of money they once did, but as the American Journalism Review notes, there are buyers who get excited by a “Citizen Kane model of using the paper’s news columns to promote a point of view.” And if the FCC scraps its cross-ownership rule, the “Citizen Kane model” won’t be restricted to traditional news columns. For evidence of that, look to San Diego, where developer Doug Manchester has, since he purchased the powerful Union-Tribune, stirred an outcry by turning the paper (and its popular website) into a cheerleader for his projects, proposals and candidates. Even if the media buyers are not heavy-handed right-wingers, rule changes that would allow billionaires to use old-media newsrooms as one-size-fits-all “content providers” for broadcast outlets and heavily trafficked new-media sites should be rejected, in the words of Free Press president Craig Aaron, as “unfathomable at a moment when the airwaves are already so consolidated, so concentrated, and simply don’t represent the diversity, and the diversity of viewpoints, of the American people.”
Read more here
A Wisconsin man could face years in federal prison if he is convicted of helping hacker collective Anonymous take down Koch Industries’ website during protests in the state’s capital in 2011, according to an indictment revealed this week.
The charges were announced Tuesday by the U.S. attorney’s office in Wichita, Kan. — the home of Koch Industries, a $115-billion-a-year oil and manufacturing conglomerate owned by libertarian iconoclasts Charles and David Koch.
Rosol is the first and only defendant charged in the attack, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office told the Los Angeles Times.
The Koch site shutdown came during the height of pro-union protests in Wisconsin’s state capital that winter, when the Koch brothers came under criticism for backing the state’s union cutbacks. Under the hashtag #OpWisconsin, Anonymous members issued a statement accusing the Kochs of “political manipulation” and said, “We are actively seeking vulnerabilities.”
In the world of computer crime, the attack was more of a mobbing than a robbery.
Koch Brothers is Teh Stan but cybervandalism is bad mmkay.
As recently as 2003, the president of the Greater Fort Bend County Tea Party had a very different title: director of propaganda for the American Fascist Party.
James Ives, a prominent Tea Party activist who has hosted statewide rallies and political debates and has been a regular contributor on conservative radio, was the AFP’s fourth in command, commenting about the party’s principles on a fascist message board. An image of Ives in what appears to be a black uniform with yellow shoulder patches can be seen in a 2006 promotional video for the party.
Ives tells a more nuanced story; the Richmond, Texas, resident says he stumbled across the fascist party — which supports extreme right-wing authoritarian regimes — online in the early 2000s as an “amateur political science student and frustrated novelist” and was merely curious.
“From my point of view, it was all pro-Constitution, pro-America,” Ives said of the group, which appears to be defunct.
“I never did anything,” he added. “There really weren’t enough people involved to be a gathering, let alone a rally. It was basically a scattering of people across the continent just complaining.”
He said he believed he’d uncovered an underground cabal — and decided to stick around to do research for a “political novel of intrigue.”
“I thought, ‘I can blow the lid off of this. … I can go inside and find out what’s going on,’” Ives said.
Ives never wrote a novel. He did write a range of posts on the party’s Yahoo message board, communicating with his fellow “blackshirts” and the party’s chief organizer, a man who identified himself as the “Glorious Leader.”
In one post, he channeled Benito Mussolini, the World War II-era Italian dictator and founder of that country’s National Fascist Party, saying building up the fascist movement in America was “our spirit, our calling.”
“It will be our greatest challenge, and our sweetest victory, to finally surpass this dark menace, this numbing threat from the shadows, and replace it with the pure sunbeam that is our Fascist Faith, our Fascist Truth,” he wrote.
In another post, he blasts a fellow commenter’s racist remarks, saying such members of the party make “the return of Fascist Faith to the pantheon of accepted beliefs that much more difficult.”
“Tell me what I can do in Texas for you and I will try my utmost to comply,” Ives added, signing off, “your honor-bound comrade.”
A recent flood of Koch-supported think tanks, junk scientists and astroturf groups from inside and outside of Kansas are awaiting the outcome of a bill this week that could stall progress on the growth of clean energy in Kansas.
States around the country, including Texas, Ohio, Missouri and North Carolina Climate Crime Sceneare poised to cut back on government support for clean energy jobs using model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC, which brings companies together with state lawmakers to forge a wish list of corporate state laws behind closed doors, is coordinating this year’s assault on state laws that require a gradual increase of electricity generated by clean energy sources.
ALEC and a hoard of other Koch-funded interests operating under the umbrella of the State Policy Network have hit Kansas legislators hard with junk economic studies, junk science and a junk vision of more polluting energy in Kansas’ future. Koch Industries lobbyist Jonathan Small has added direct pressure on Kansas lawmakers to rollback support for clean energy.
This fossil fuel-funded attack ignores the good that wind energy has done for Kansas, a state known for its bipartisan support for its growing wind industry (see key report by Polsinelli Shughart). The state now has 19 operating wind farms that have brought millions to farmers leasing their land and millions more to the state, county and local levels (NRDC). The American Wind Energy Association says that Kansas wind industry jobs have grown to 13,000 with the help of incentives like the renewable portfolio standard.
Unfortunately, clean energy is not palatable to the billionaire Koch brothers or the influence peddlers they finance. All of the following State Policy Network affiliates (except the Kansas Policy Institute) are directly funded by the Koch brothers, while most of the groups get secretive grants through the Koch-affiliated “Dark Money ATM,” Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, which have distributed over $120,000,000 to 100 groups involved in climate denial since 2002.
They want to control the editorial pages so no badthought can be published.
Right-wing funders and business industrialists David and Charles Koch may purchase the Tribune Company newspapers, which include the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and the Los Angeles Times. The brothers are “interested in the clout they could gain through the Times’ editorial pages,” the Hollywood Reporter notes. Responding to the report, a spokesperson for Koch told the website that the brothers are “constantly exploring profitable opportunities in many industries and sectors”:
Missy Cohlmia, a spokeswoman for Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, issued the following statement to THR:
“As an entrepreneurial company with 60,000 employees around the world, we are constantly exploring profitable opportunities in many industries and sectors. So, it is natural that our name would come up in connection with this rumor. We respect the independence of the journalistic institutions referenced in today’s news stories, but it is our long-standing policy not to comment on deals or rumors of deals we may or may not be exploring. ”
The Los Angeles Weekly was the first to report that the Kochs could be mulling the purchase of the newspaper assets, which make up $623 million of the company’s $7 billion holdings.
In an email, Koch brothers’ front group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), sent congratulations to Republicans and their supporters around the country for helping push sequester cuts AFP says are “an important step forward for economic growth.” The email continued, “Americans for Prosperity thanks Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans for standing up to President Obama and making sure the $85 billion in much-needed sequester spending cuts took effect,” and it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Koch brothers and Republicans own the sequester and are giddy at the prospect of a recession and killing millions of jobs. One aspect of sequester cuts little mentioned is that the devastating $85 billion for 2013 is just the beginning of greater domestic spending cuts, devastating effects on anti-poverty programs, Medicare, and without cessation, the end of recovery.
The sequester is a ten year plan that cuts $1.2 trillion across the board, and because they began in March, $85 billion is about 70% of the next nine years of cuts coming in at about $123.88 billion every year. It spells the end of recovery because experts estimate that by the end of 2013, $85 billion in cuts means nearly a million jobs will vanish, and GDP will fall between .7% and 1.7% in the first year a
A non-binding resolution, passed at a United Nations conference more than 20 years ago, is suddenly a “threat to homes (and the) property of our middle-class” in New Mexico.
That’s according to the column, “Agenda 21 threat to homes, property of our middle-class,” which got the top spot on the Sunday Journal’s Op-Ed page, the newspaper’s highest circulation day.
Written by state Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Albuquerque, the column is vague on what Agenda 21 actually says, but we learn nine paragraphs into the column that Anderson is so worried about it he has introduced House Bill 307, “which prohibits the state of New Mexico from adopting or implementing policies that result from Agenda 21 - or the United Nations Rio Declaration of Environment and Development - without due process.”
The claims that Agenda 21 takes us from fighting poverty to redistributing wealth, or that trying to conserve resources and open spaces is a plot to take away our way of life, have been around ever since the resolution was passed. But as the New York Times has noted, the protests those claims have spawned have “gained momentum in the past two years because of the emergence of the Tea Party movement, harnessing its suspicion about government power and belief that man-made global warming is a hoax.”
On top of all that, Glenn Beck has attached his name to a book entitled Agenda 21, described as a “thriller” about a “republic” in which “there is no president. No Congress. No freedom.”
I say “attached his name” because, according to the woman who edited an early draft of the book, Agenda 21 was actually written by Harriet Parke, whose name is also on the cover, and Beck purchased the rights to say it was written by him.
This article gives a good overview of the Tea Party outrage about ‘Agenda 21’, including Koch brothers, John Birch Society, and other organizations around the country. The rest of the article is here: Fear and Loathing of ‘Agenda 21’
Here is a little more background about the New Mexico legislator who offered this bill for the consideration of the New Mexico House of Representatives:
He is the author of NM House Bill 302 which is designed to protect teachers who want to teach anti-evolution or climate change denialism. This is not too different than the bill Michele Bachmann, who is also an idiot, introduced when she was a Republican member of the State legislature in Minnesota some years ago.
House Bill 302, as it’s called, states that public school teachers who want to teach “scientific weaknesses” about “controversial scientific topics” including evolution, climate change, human cloning and — ambiguously — “other scientific topics” may do so without fear of reprimand. The legislation was introduced to the New Mexico House of Representatives on Feb. 1 by Republican Rep. Thomas A. Anderson.
Republicans fear Agenda 21, but they don’t fear the consequences of climate change. That’s a dangerous lack of discernment.
At 11:42 a.m. on Feb. 14, a conservative online magazine called The Washington Free Beacon posted a dispatch about a speech Chuck Hagel gave in 2007 in which it said he called the State Department “an adjunct to the Israeli foreign minister’s office.”
The report was based on “contemporaneous” notes an attendee posted online. An hour later on the floor of the United States Senate, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina urgently cited that statement as another reason to delay Mr. Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary.
Mr. Hagel denied saying it, and no recording has surfaced. But after a successful filibuster against the nominee, a group called the Emergency Committee for Israel effectively declared partial victory and vowed to “redouble its efforts to bring to light Mr. Hagel’s complete record.”
All in all, it was a very bad day for Mr. Hagel, and a smashingly good one for the conservative political operative of the moment — Michael Goldfarb.
Often working with money from major Republican donors, most of whom have preferred anonymity, Mr. Goldfarb has been in the middle of nearly every major partisan dispute of Mr. Obama’s presidency — over Iran, Israel, terrorism policy and now Mr. Hagel and guns. For a time, Mr. Goldfarb worked as a communications strategist to the leading bêtes noires of liberals, the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.
In his work at The Free Beacon, for groups like the Emergency Committee for Israel and at Orion, he has combined a relatively new form of weaponized journalism, politicking and public policy into a potent mix.
“He’s at the intersection of a lot of different worlds,” said William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, who has been a boss, mentor and colleague to Mr. Goldfarb.
The rest of the New York Times article is here: Michael Goldfarb Gleeful Provocateur at Intersection of Many Worlds
Here’s an article from over a year ago that gives additional background on the Center for American Freedom, the parent group to the Washington Free Beacon.
But while conservative think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation remain important sources of conservative policy and strategy, they have struggled to mix it up in the new online media sphere. CAF’s founding marks a recognition of the success of the Democratic online infrastructure and its spectrum of successful partisan media operations, which have blended journalistic values of speed and accuracy with ideological and partisan goals to great impact.
“It’s very impressive what they’ve done,” Goldfarb said. “Obviously, I think they’re misguided and they have some horrible policy views and they’ve done some things I wouldn’t do, but the premise of it is extremely impressive.”
A test run for CAF, Goldfarb said, was the Emergency Committee for Israel, which he also advised, and which waged a relentless guerrilla media campaign against the efforts of J Street — a national membership organization with a sizable Washington staff — to create a liberal counterweight in American Middle East policy.
It’s the interlocking directorate of epistemic closure. It’s the Breitbrats of the mainstream conservative movement. It’s more of the kind of ‘journalism’ that we don’t need.