Things go better with Koch – except, apparently, for good journalism. News divisions at broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC have set ethics aside and joined a liberal crusade to demonize conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch. Broadcast reports have embraced the Democratic initiative to make elections all about money on the right while largely ignoring top donors on the left.
Since 2012, the big three networks have reported on the Koch brothers and their funding of political campaigns 9 times more often than liberal billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer.
ABC, CBS and NBC have entirely ignored big-monied liberal organizations like the Democracy Alliance, which is spending $200 million to “to boost liberal candidates and causes.” Even on June 23, when Politico reported on a secretive April Democracy Alliance meeting, there was no coverage.
Broadcast journalists have had it in for the Koch brothers. Their contributions, we’re told, have funded “very, very conservative causes,” they operate in “secrecy” and are part of the “elite.” One ABC story featured representatives from three separate George-Soros-funded organizations to criticize the Kochs. Not one of them was identified as such.
To journalists, only conservative money is ever suspect. Those neutral network types even dug up professional left-wingers like “Colbert Report” host Stephen Colbert and ultra-liberal Chris Matthews, of MSNBC, to whine about conservative money.
This isn’t surprising. Reporters, producers and editors rely on lefty media for too much of their news. Several years back, Huffington Post was voted the most popular blog by political reporters. It has only gained in stature.
And HuffPost and other lefty sites have been in a feeding frenzy over the Kochs since before the 2012 election. Go to Huffingtonpost, Alternet or any of the other liberal hangouts on the Internet and the word “Koch” is synonymous with evil. There’s “Bernie Sanders Dismisses The Koch Brothers' 'Kookie Crazy' Influence timed to the new liberal movie about the Kochs. Or, “Koch Brothers Revealed In Damning Film Exposé,” about the very same film. A quest for Koch on HuffPost reveals 196,000 mentions according to Google.
The Kochs feature so prominently in liberal commentary, they should get a cut of fundraising dollars.
Yes, conservatives dwell on Soros because he’s the Daddy Warbucks for liberal causes.
Here’s the difference. Conservative comments about liberal funding get ignored by most traditional news outlets. But when lefties whine about a conservative funder, media outlets rush to help.
Look at how the networks treated Koch money. As the 2012 presidential election neared, ABC sent investigative reporter Brian Ross to Florida for a wildly one-sided report that included comments from three Soros-funded groups that were never identified as such.
There was Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, bemoaning that “we have levels of secrecy never seen in the contemporary historic era.” The Center for Public Integrity has received $2,716,328 from Soros’s Open Society Foundations since 2000.
Ross also cited Sheila Krumholtz, executive director for the Center for Responsive Politics. That center has received $725,000 from Soros’ foundations since 2000. Why stop there?
Ellen Miller, executive director of the Soros-funded Sunlight Foundation, added some advice the networks only embraced for Republicans. “It’s important for the American public to know who’s financing their conventions and who the candidates could be beholden to.”
Sunlight has received $1,377,066 from Soros’s foundations since 2008.
Sunlight. What a concept. By contrast, the networks only explained about Soros’ funding in one story and alluded to it in another. Since the beginning of 2012, just one story that gave any details about Soros, his son Jonathan or Tom Steyer, who has committed $100 million to fund eco-politics.
Both times, the reporting was done as part of Koch stories.
And when the networks reported about the brothers Koch, they did all they could to make them appear scary. All three broadcast networks hyped the secrecy of the Koch donor meetings, even though such meetings are almost always private – just like the Democracy Alliance.
CBS told viewers of “another closed door meeting in San Diego held by two conservative super donors, billionaires Charles and David Koch.” ABC tried to link Charles Koch to an ominous-sounding “secret effort” to fund Mitt Romney’s campaign for president. And NBC had GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney “appearing behind closed doors at the South Hampton home of David Koch, the conservative billionaire who is spending millions to support GOP candidates.”
Journalists did everything but peep through keyholes tracking the Kochs. Liberal funders, on the other hand, could literally throw cash at their candidates and the media look the other way.
That’s political journalism in 2014.
Dan Gainor is the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently about media for Fox News Opinion. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.