In Cahoots with the Kochs

January 27th, 2014 · No Comments · campaign finance reform, Fact Check, journalism, Uncategorized

By Arthur Alpert

I prefer short, common words, but the Koch brothers have earned “ubiquitous” by dint of their generous, energetic efforts to fund sundry conservative and Far Right political causes from seemingly inexhaustible pots of gold.

At the Albuquerque Journal, however, the Kochs’ civic efforts don’t get them much ink. For a long time, I wondered at the Journal’s “lack of curiosity” about the bustling billionaires.

Then, having reviewed the evidence, I concluded the “curiosity” phrase failed to describe reality. “That was silly,” I wrote here last November 20, “Journal management is in cahoots with them.”

Not only was that accurate, but I really enjoyed using a phrase I must have picked up from b-movie westerns many Sheriff’s posses ago.

More on cahoots later; my purpose today is to update you on our daily’s ties to the ubiquitous billionaires.

After all, it’s dang sure the Journal won’t; the newspaper’s passion for transparency ends where its political agenda begins.

First, let’s note that Americans for Prosperity, the national Koch political operation, is leaving New Mexico (and the Journal Op Ed page). ProgressNow New Mexico and other sources, not including the Journal, revealed AFP is pulling up stakes.

The Journal had published only a few AFP opinion pieces, crediting one Joe Montes, identified as “New Mexico State Director,” as author.

What I remember best isn’t their content but how the editors identified Montes or AFP.

Because they never did.

Having just visited the paper’s website, I am reminded Montes disapproved of Medicaid, public schools and subsidies for wind power, which tracks nicely with the Koch agenda. Still, AFP’s New Mexico operation is taking the next stage out.

Fear not, however, for the Journal’s partnership with the Kochs.

The editors ran an Op Ed Friday, Jan. 24 under the rubric “Many ways ACA fails Hispanics” by Daniel Garza, executive director, The LIBRE Initiative.

This time, the editors did append an ID paragraph, which included the information the organization favors a “more prosperous America.”

Yahoo!

Somehow, though, it escaped the editors that Libre Initiative is financed by – yes, you guessed it – the Koch brothers.

Under the headline “Koch-affiliated group ramps up Hispanic outreach”, Yahoo News reporter Chris Moody traced the Initiative’s ties to the Koch “donor network” on Jan. 17.

Back in 2011, the Center for Public Integrity reported Garza and the Initiative were eyeing Koch dollars for the 2012 elections.

And of course the Journal continues to publish opinions from other Koch-backed “think tanks,” including the Heritage Foundation and CATO Institute, sire of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation.

So the Journal-Koch partnership persists, as does the newspaper’s effort to hide it.  This makes one wonder what else they’re doing for each other.

Well, despite the Journal’s love for the opaque – that’s the opposite of transparent, right? – it’s clear they’ve agreed to keep the newspaper free of reporting on the brothers’ Herculean political activities.

Just this past Jan. 6, my colleague, Denise Tessier, checked off lots the Journal found not newsworthy about the work of the Kochs’ American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) last year.

Today let’s add to that a story the Washington Post ran Jan. 5 under this headline:

Koch-backed political coalition, designed to shield donors, raised $400 million in 2012

Here’s reporter Matea Gold’s lead:

“The political network spearheaded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch has expanded into a far-reaching operation of unrivaled complexity, built around a maze of groups that cloaks its donors, according to an analysis of new tax returns and other documents.”

Gold’s follow the next day was described thus by the headline writer:

An amazing map of the Koch brothers massive political network”.

It included complex, purty graphics from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Of course, neither story made the Journal. “Far-reaching operation of unrivaled complexity financed by cloaked donors?” According to the Albuquerque Journal, that’s just foofaraw.

Which brings us back to cahoots. Here’s Bartlett’s 1848 dictionary:

“It is used in the South and West to denote a company or union of men for predatory excursion, and sometimes for partnership in business.”

Yup.

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