Long before radio and television, much less the Internet and social media era, Americans only access to the news was either word of mouth or newspapers. In fact, print journalism, at one time regarded as the Fourth Estate, was the people’s great equalizer between the masses and powerful. According to a great journalist of his day, Finley Peter Dunne, “The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.” The implication was that newspaper journalists’ primary function was “to get at the truth and to keep watch at the abuses of power” solely to protect the people from the wealthy elite. Obviously, corporate media is not interested in the truth or abuses of power, and now that the Koch brothers have successfully extended their influence into print journalism, newspapers are not only failing to keep watch at the abuse of power, they are working for, and in concert with, the conservative movement as dictated by the Koch brothers. What makes newspapers actions more despicable is that they are not owned by the Kochs, but they are using so-called “opinion and editorial” pages to promote Republican candidates, and push Kochs’ ideology and vision for America as the country’s salvation.
Last week, an op-ed in Michigan’s Midland Daily News praised the Koch brothers’ vision for America and defended their outrageous spending spree to promote their corporatist agenda and influence elections. However, what the newspaper’s editorial staff failed to disclose was the op-ed writers’ substantial connection to the Koch brothers. It is a practice that many newspapers across the nation are engaging in and it is not necessarily that Koch employees and operatives are infiltrating newspaper editorial pages, it is more that newspapers are negligent at least, and more likely complicit, in pushing a hard-right conservative agenda as the path to the American dream.
The Michigan op-ed, in particular, was penned by a Koch brother employee, Timothy Nash, who defended the Koch’s political spending as “belief in, passion for, and support of the traditional values that have made America great.” Nash serves on the board of the Free Enterprise Institute (FEI), a Koch-funded group, as well as director of the Koch Scholars program at Northwood University, funded by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. He is also adjunct professor with the Koch-funded think tank, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. It is noteworthy that the Mackinac Center, “the largest conservative state-level policy think tank in the nation,” is part of the State Policy Network (SPN). SPN is a sister organization of the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) created specifically to “privatize education, block healthcare reform, rob state employee pensions, restrict workers’ rights, and roll back environmental protections.”
A week after Midland Daily News published a pro-Koch “op-ed,” the Detroit News published another pro-Koch “op-ed” that was a political campaign ad touting Governor Rick Snyder as Ohio’s messianic savior. The piece was written by an employee of another Koch brothers’ group, Generation Opportunity, and praised Snyder and state Republicans as champions of education reform; particularly higher education reform. Generation Opportunity’s primary goal is eliminating ‘accredited’ institutions to make room for Koch libertarian-driven corporate-fueled private schools.
When newspapers aren’t publishing Koch-brother promotional pieces and campaign ads under the guise of editorial opinions, they are promoting and protecting Koch-funded Republicans. That was the case last week when the Cleveland Plain Dealer removed the video of its editorial board’s endorsement meeting with their favorite Republican, Ohio Governor John Kasich and his pathetic performance in the same room as his Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald.
The video the newspaper’s editors did not want Ohio residents to see showed Kasich slumped in his chair, refusing to acknowledge the other candidate, and ignoring repeated attempts by the Plain Dealer’s editorial staff to answer even basic questions about his policies and programs. If the video was available, it would explain precisely why Kasich rejected multiple debate offers from FitzGerald. It does not, however, explain why the newspaper is promoting a confirmed Koch brother devotee instead of doing what newspapers are supposed to do; “get at the truth and keep watch of abuses of power;” two tasks the Kochs and Kasich cannot allow to occur.
Even in California, a decidedly blue state, newspapers are actively promoting Koch-aligned candidates on their editorial and opinion pages. The largest and most influential newspaper in California’s great Central Valley provided a Koch-fueled candidate running for re-election to Congress, Jeff Denham (R), with a prime campaign ad placement on its opinion page to push a pro-corporate, pro-oil industry, and anti-environmental extremist position rife with outright lies. What is not so stunning, is that the newspaper boasting ‘transparency and truth’ in journalism allowed Denham to use language straight out of the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity playbook based on Koch-created lies. Language that claimed, for example, that the devastating drought plaguing the Golden State was not caused by lack of rainfall due to climate change, but the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Waters Act. The newspaper’s editors know their audience is too ignorant to comprehend that lack of rainfall is the reason the state is in a severe drought and allowed Denham to blame the water woes on dirty environmental extremists and clean water advocates.
There is a world of attention given to the influence, and damage from, corporate-driven, main-stream media outlets such as Fox News and CNN for promoting the conservative’s extremist agenda and Republican policies. However, the real damage is being inflicted every day in newspapers, large and small, across the nation in small towns and major metropolitan areas. Many Americans understand they cannot trust main stream broadcast media, but they still hold the opinion that their local newspapers are following the mandate to ‘get at the truth and expose abuses’ against the public. They are sadly mistaken because what drives newspaper editors and publishers is their corporate media owners as well as corporate-driven advertisers devoted to promoting the Koch brothers’ agenda and not exposing their blatant abuses against the American people.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.