As Koch Industries Ramps Up Attack On ‘Left-Leaning’ Media, WNET Dumps David Koch From Board

by Brad Johnson, campaign manager of Forecast the Facts

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, New York City’s flagship public television station, WNET, has dropped the richest man in New York, carbon pollution billionaire David Koch, from its board of trustees. Days before the monthly board meeting on May 16, Koch’s name was removed from the WNET website. Koch had been a board member since 2006. Koch has been funding WNET since 1986.

The severance of Koch’s longstanding relationship with WNET — which not only serves the New York City area but also produces national programs such as Charlie Rose, Nature, and Great Performances — comes at a time of increasing tension between Koch’s anti-regulatory, climate-polluting industrial empire and the educational mission of public television.

The inherent conflict between Koch’s conspiratorial, anti-science ideology and the public interest with has come under attention in recent months. After Superstorm Sandy struck, WNET’s Charlie Rose and Bill Moyers ran shows on the tragic consequences and threat of greenhouse pollution for the New York region. More recently, reports of Koch Industries’ interest in the newspaper holdings of the Tribune Company have spurred nationwide protests.

Koch also was featured in the November 2012 PBS documentary Park Avenue, which contrasted the extreme wealth of Koch’s residence at 740 Park Avenue with the stark poverty less than a mile north in East Harlem. In the documentary, a former doorman noted that Koch, with a net worth of about $45 billion, gives only $50 holiday tips.

On May 16, the evening after Koch left the WNET board, the station ran a major live town hall on Superstorm Sandy. Broadcasting from New Jersey and New York City, the NY/NJ/Long Island affiliates under WNET management broadcast a two-hour show that talked repeatedly about the major threat posed by climate change in rising sea levels and more frequent storms of increased intensity — threats which Koch’s Cato Institute denies.

In anticipation of today’s piece on the Kochs in The New Yorker by Jane Mayer, Koch Industries issued a conspiratorial rant accusing her of running a “left-leaning” “smear” campaign, in coordination with “MSNBC, ThinkProgress, The New York Times, NPR, The Nation, Mother Jones, Huffington Post and more”:

Jane Mayer’s Agenda

As campaigns and attacks against Koch Industries and its shareholders go, the one led by Jane Mayer of The New Yorker has been consistent, if nothing else – consistent in its left-leaning bias, baseless accusations, and numerous inaccuracies.
Since lobbing her opening salvo against us in an August 2010 article that was riddled with biases and inaccuracies and based on research by a ThinkProgress blogger, Mayer has authored nearly a dozen screeds attacking Koch Industries, Charles Koch and David Koch. Her latest submission, soon to be published, will be another attempt to smear us while advancing her partisan agenda. We don’t precisely know the content of her story. However, based on her questions to us, we believe it will be an attempt to promote a fleeting PBS show that aired six months ago – one on which she collaborated and in which she appeared. The show attacked David Koch and Charles Koch, with Mayer making an appearance as an interviewee.
We also believe Mayer will work hard to make the case that should Koch purchase the Tribune newspapers, as is rumored, we would use those papers to advance a particular agenda. This assertion, of course, is made with no basis in fact or history to support such a claim.
Mayer’s tale about us will likely be promoted in all the usual places – MSNBC, ThinkProgress, The New York Times, NPR, The Nation, Mother Jones, Huffington Post and more.
Once we see it, we will fact check it and set the record straight here on KochFacts.

Koch is still on the board of trustees of WGBH, the prominent Boston-based PBS affiliate which produces major series such as Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, and the science show NOVA.

Note: Forecast the Facts members are participating in the campaign to discourage the Tribune Company from selling its papers to the Koch brothers.

Update: “Mr. Koch resigned from our Board of Trustees as of Thursday, May 16th to concentrate on his other obligations,” WNET communications director Kellie Castruita Specter informed Forecast the Facts in an email response.

19 Responses to As Koch Industries Ramps Up Attack On ‘Left-Leaning’ Media, WNET Dumps David Koch From Board

  1. prokaryotes says:

    So the Kochs have turned their gaze upward – to Canada, where Alberta oil men are selling their tar-sands gunk for a whopping $33 (£21) a barrel less than Chavez’s heavy. Do the maths: With 289,000 barrels a day refined at Corpus Christi, switching from Venezuela heavy to Canadian tar could put an extra $3 billion (£1.9 billion) a year into the pockets of the Kochs.

    As matters stand, with nowhere to dump their tar goo, Canadians have to sell at a $33 (£21) a barrel discount to nearby refineries in the US Upper Midwest.

    American consumers are getting the benefit of this oil backup. Indeed, one angry Canuck, Cenovus Energy CEO Brian Ferguson, complains that the pipeline plug results in “subsidisation to the United States consumer by $1,200 (£764) per Canadian”.

    The XL Pipeline would act as an oil enema, releasing the impacted inventory, enriching the Gulf refineries.

    The result of opening the spigot through the XL Keystone will mean that US Midwest retail heating oil prices will skyrocket and gasoline in the region, as the crude drains away to other refineries, will rise an estimated 15 cents a gallon.

  2. prokaryotes says:

    Koch Industries, Inc. is an American multinational corporation based in Wichita, Kansas

    The National Weather Service in Wichita warned of a large and “extremely dangerous and potentially deadly” tornado late Sunday.

  3. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Facts do not have a left wing bias, it is just that the right now lives in a fantasy land.

  4. Robert in New Orleans says:

    Great article at the New Yorker, a must read for anyone who cares about the corrosive effect of extreme wealth on the body politic.

  5. Mike Roddy says:

    Brad, was Koch kicked off the WNET Board, or did he resign? What happened here?

  6. Brad Johnson, Guest Blogger says:

    Mike — The official statement is that the WNET board accepted Koch’s resignation at their May 16 meeting. There was not an official board vote to remove Koch. His name was removed from the WNET website two weeks prior. It appears, officially at least, to have been a mutual parting of the ways.

  7. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Does this mean that the USA may start having an open and honest discussion of denial or am I indulging in wishful thinking? ME

  8. fj says:

    Koch Industries infiltrates society like Phillips Morris did when cigarettes had free reign still estimated to kill a billion people by mid century.

  9. Mike Roddy says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Brad, and please show up here more often.

    Merrelyn, I’m afraid it’s wishful thinking, since our media and politicians are bought.

  10. Unfortunately, ME, that’s mostly wishful thinking. WNET is just one PBS affiliate. And although PBS is probably the best of the U.S. media majors, it is still sorely lacking when it comes to reporting and opining on climate issues.

    It’s not hard to see why. At the beginning of each PBS nightly news (the “NewsHour” broadcast), the major sponsors are listed. Along with “viewers like you,” there are several foundations and then there are a couple of corporate sponsors. The corporate sponsors actually get a commercial — just like any other TV commercial — not just a listing.

    Which corporate sponsors get their 20-30 second spot? BP, which uses its time to talk about how committed they are to the Gulf and BNSF Railroad, which makes a bunch of its money shipping coal and, as I understand it, Canadian Tar sludge to American refineries.

    And that’s as good as it gets here. The rest of the major media is owned by mega-Corps such as GE; Murdoch; Clear Channel (radio), etc. And I’m sure you know the Koch Bros. are trying to buy the Tribune papers which include the LA Times.

    Honest discussion of climate issues takes place on sites like this, Al Jazeera, and the Guardian — outlets most Americans don’t even know exist.

  11. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I was pretty sure you would say that Mike and Philip but why would a Koch resign when the position gives him leverage, ME

  12. squidboy6 says:

    “KochFacts”? what a name…

    It was reported that Georgia Pacific operations in the South threatened their employees with loss of employment if Obama was reelected during the last election. That’s a KochFact.

    NYT’s recent reporting of the dumping of petcoke from dilbit in Detroit, up to three stories high next to the river. The article had a lot of detail but almost nothing on the environmental hazards of petcoke such as PAHs. A few residents wrote in that dust was invading their home through open windows.

    I’m not going to say that Oklahoma’s recent tornado was evidence of Climate Change but I will say that the size of the tornado was. I lived near there many decades ago and now I won’t even travel through it. Everything there has gone wrong – that’s what denial will do. Another NYT commenter has mentioned the ozone, heat waves, and killed trees from Climate Change. Pure hell.

  13. nyc-tornado-10 says:

    hopefully d. koch gets the message and leaves new york city. Koch should return to wichita, and may he one day look down from the center of an F5 tornado, as it flings him into missouri! We will thank God and party when it happens.

  14. catman306 says:

    Interesting observation.

  15. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Immune reaction to infection.

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    They have always done so, a ‘Through the Looking-Glass’ world where greed is good (or God if you prefer)might is Right, the rich are virtuous, the poor are lazy and feckless, eternal growth to feed insatiable greed is not just possible but obligatory, other people are enemies or merely competition, equality is impossible and morally questionable, the ‘winner takes all’ etc. It’s a fantasy alright, but a dark and dreadful one, like a waking nightmare.

  17. gerald says:

    Well it’s a start! Now if can get all those new agencies out of their plutocratic mitts!

  18. Cornucopia says:

    I do think that you should revise your headline as people are re-tweeting it as is. It is misleading to say PBS dumped them when it was Koch who resigned and they reluctantly accepted the resignation as it likely means giving up big bucks. PBS tried very hard to suppress the films that were critical of Koch, despite having previously agreed to show them. There is no evidence that it was a mutual parting of the ways. I think your story should be revised to indicate the facts.