David Koch is busy trying to rehab his tarnished media image, without admitting that he’s been hurt by the exposure of his financial investment in fundamentally changing America into a fantastical Ayn Rand Utopia for tax-dodging billionaires or his secret Iranian sales. The Koch brothers have long been the secret under-bellies of funding for the Right, and they worked hard to keep it that way.
On the surface, the Koch brothers appeared to be philanthropists of the arts and science, but as we all found out in 2010 thanks to Jane Mayer reporting for The New Yorker, they were working behind the scenes as a Randian Oz in order to control the political landscape of America. The exposure hurt the Koch brothers’ image, and with it, their ability to get their agendas passed.
Media scrutiny has been daunting for the Kochs, and post-exposure, they’ve had to adjust their game plan for manipulating American policies.
David Koch’s latest effort in Media Rehab is pushing his cancer research funding in an interview with Stacey Singer of the Palm Beach Post while asking if he looks like a bully:
“They make me sound like a bully,” David Koch says when asked about journalists, looking a little baffled. “Do I look like a bully?”
Koch now proudly admits to helping Governor Scott Walker “fight unions” in Wisconsin, with Koch’s Americans for Prosperity running ads claiming Walker’s policies are “working.”
The Palm Beach Post interview quotes Koch as saying:
“We’re helping him, as we should. We’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years,” he says. “We’ve spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We’re going to spend more.”
“What Scott Walker is doing with the public unions in Wisconsin is critically important. He’s an impressive guy and he’s very courageous,” Koch says after a benefit dinner of salmon and white wine. “If the unions win the recall, there will be no stopping union power.”
See what he did there? Unions are the “bad guys” who are fighting to bring down poor Governor Walker in David’s version of this story. Of course, reality tells another story.
Governor Walker has more to worry about than Unions, with a criminal investigation circling closer and closer to him and in fact to the entire Wisconsin Republican Party, but even if the fight were just about his policies, there are plenty more people fighting him than just Unions. But reality doesn’t allow David Koch to spin a fantasy simple narrative with a clear bad guy, and so reality won’t work for his mission. His mission, of course, is to dupe the average American into voting against their own interest in order to benefit the wealthiest people in America, like himself.
If the story really were about Walker’s policies, we’d be discussing what the Koch’s mean by “it’s working”. In addition to the job losses, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Thursday that the Legislative Fiscal Bureau says lower-than-expected tax revenues have hit Wisconsin hard in a new analysis of the state budget, “The cost of new legislation, a substantial reduction in tax revenues and a series of outstanding debts have the state facing a budget shortfall of more than $143 million in 2013.”
The cost of new legislation and a substantial reduction in tax revenues along with outstanding debts have created yet another budget shortfall. Gee, perhaps one day these self-described fiscal conservatives can explain to us exactly how reducing revenues creates a healthy “business.” And after that, I’d love to hear them justify the outrageous cost of their legislative folly. Somehow, this is spun to suggest Walker’s policies are “working”– a story they sell by focusing on school budgets instead of the state budget (move the goal post when creating a fallacy).
But of course, the Koch narrative won’t be about reality. It will be about how “unfairly” the Kochs have been “demonized” (yes, a Koch friend is quoted as saying just that), because nothing gets a right-winger going more than inflicting pain and poverty upon the masses and then climbing onto the cross as a Great Martyr of the Cause. Being a victim is a necessary part of the Right wing narrative, and certainly a coup for a multi-billionaire to pull off during a deep recession, no doubt.
The Koch brothers’ efforts at media rehab recall a time when corporations were finding that Americans were not buying their attempts at media rehab. To remedy this, they realized they would need to pay ministers to preach their message of corporate Christ. Sadly, this effort was wildly successful, and resulted in the Right wing we see today – the idea that wealthy corporations are the victims of cruel, unchristian greedy unions/working class, who are not entitled to anything since God didn’t see fit to make them billionaires. In this scenario, billionaires are the Christs nailed to the Corporate Cross of Martyrdom. Back in 2010, before we knew what we now know, David whined to New York Magazine that Rachel Maddow had accused him of being involved in the Tea Party movement, a charge he vehemently denied. “The radical press is coming after me and Charles,” he said. “They’re using us as whipping boys.”
And so David Koch thinks he can climb on up that cross and sell you the New Koch Story of the Martyred Philanthropist Whipped by the Liberal Elite. In reality, the Koch brothers do donate a lot of money to art and research. It’s worth noting that David Koch’s cancer research funding has been sold as “empathy for others” but empathy requires imagination of walking in someone’s shoes down a path you have not walked. Since David Koch had cancer himself and as of 2010 was still fighting it, his interest in funding cancer research shouldn’t be used as proof of empathy, though certainly it’s worthy of praise. Let me know when David takes a stroll down the average American’s life path, one who wasn’t born to a silver spoon, and then we can commence with the “empathy” strokes.
But the Kochs also donate unknown amounts of money to destroying the very theoretical foundations of this country. The Koch brothers push an entitled, corporate government agenda as if it were divinely ordained, moral and just. It is none of those things. The Koch agenda is, in fact, antithetical to the American way of life and to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Brace yourselves for the Koch Brother Media Rehab Tour. This is just the beginning. Comfort yourselves with the notion that at least you forced David out of the closet and he now has to embrace in public his very un-American ideas, stemming from his father’s deep Bircheresque paranoia. David Koch asked if he looked like a bully, to which the only response can be, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”
Isn’t it just like a wolf to come dressed as a sheep and try to get the public to focus on what he looks like rather than his actions? That cross isn’t looking so sturdy from where I’m sitting.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.