Kochtopus Tentacle in [INSERT STATE NAME HERE]

January 19th, 2016 · No Comments · journalism, Koch brothers

By Arthur Alpert

As an avid follower of politics, it’s my impression the political Left makes too much of the Koch brothers’ efforts to shape the nation. They’re not the only billionaires out to conform the nation to their private interests.

As an avid reader of the Albuquerque Journal for purposes of journalistic criticism, I’m struck by how hard management works to obscure the family’s political role and, simultaneously, provide the Kochs a pulpit from which to preach their doctrines.

Thus does the Journal reveal its political agenda and thus does it make clear it feels no need to confine that agenda to the editorials. Management politics determine – suffuse, saturate, permeate – the news and opinion pages.

William Randolph Hearst would approve.

Case in point – Washington Post reporter Tom Hamburger’s report on “Dark Money”, a new book about the Koch brothers’ impact on the American political system, ran in his paper Jan. 15. Other newspapers and magazines and Web sites also have found newsworthy what New Yorker writer Jane Mayer dug up.

Unsurprisingly, the Albuquerque Journal has not, even as the editors did find deserving of print, Jan. 17, another essay by Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, an organization that belongs to the Koch political network.

Not incidentally, the editors eschewed the usual boilerplate italics at the bottom of Gessing’s piece, about the RGF’s independence and nonpartisanship.  This contrasted neatly with what they did the next day, Monday the18th, with an essay lauding the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. from Darryl Lorenzo Washington. They gave him this ID:

“Darryl Lorenzo Washington is a poet and critic living in Santa Fe. He wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues. It is affiliated with the Progressive Magazine. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.”

I approve. Nice to know, to borrow a phrase from younger people, where he’s coming from.

Funny, though, the Journal’s editors don’t do likewise for Gessing or the many other Koch-inspired authors on the Op Ed page. Fairness (if you’ll forgive the word) would suggest Gessing be described as a laissez-faire-ist employed by the Kochs (and other monied interests) to advance their view that big business should dominate government.

Something along those lines, anyway. No need to drag in the historical connections between corporatism and fascism. Just a few facts.

Speaking of fairness, though, I would be remiss if I implied the Journal always hides the source of Koch propaganda. That’s not so.  Sometimes the Kochs step out from behind their front groups, so no cloaking is required.

For example, Mark Holden, General Counsel and Senior VP, Koch Industries, argued under his own name and title that New Mexico should roll back “burdensome occupational licensing regulations” in an Op Ed the Journal ran Dec. 30, 12015.

Ah, but even that admirable forthrightness was accompanied by a slight deception. “What should New Mexico lawmakers’ New Year’s resolutions be?” asked Mr. Holden, addressing us Enchanted folks.

Turns out, Mr. Holden’s message was localized to some 35 newspapers across the country. What we read in New Mexico was what readers from Anchorage to Portland, Maine by way of Charleston read, with only a few words like the name of the state changed, so as to make us think Koch Industries cares. Andy Cush wrote about that at Gawker.com Jan. 13 (“Koch Industries Has a Very Special Personalized Message for [INSERT STATE NAME HERE]“). He also noted that Holden rested his case in part on the “Institute of Justice” without informing us that it is yet another Koch-funded operation.

And so it goes. As the Kochtopus swims, the Albuquerque Journal opts to be a tentacle, political not journalistic.

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