The right-wing, oil-baron Koch brothers haven’t yet succeeded in taking over any of our nation’s major newspapers, so in the meantime they’re trying other tactics to influence news coverage of their activities. The Washington Post has a chilling report:
When environmental journalist David Sassoon began reporting about the billionaire Koch brothers’ interests in the Canadian oil industry last year, he sought information from their privately held conglomerate, Koch Industries. The brothers, who have gained prominence in recent years as supporters of and donors to conservative causes and candidates, weren’t playing. Despite Sassoon’s repeated requests, Koch Industries declined to respond to him or his news site, InsideClimate News.
But Sassoon, who also serves as publisher of the Pulitzer Prize-winning site, heard from the Kochs after his story was posted.
In a rebuttal posted on its Web site, KochFacts.com, the company asserted that Sassoon’s story “deceives readers” by suggesting that Koch Industries stood to benefit from construction of the Keystone XL pipeline — a denial Sassoon included in his story. KochFacts went on to dismiss Sassoon as a “professional eco-activist” and an “agenda-driven activist.”
It didn’t stop there. The company took out ads on Facebook and via Google featuring a photo of Sassoon with the headline, “David Sassoon’s Deceptions.” The ad’s copy read, “Activist/owner of InsideClimate News misleads readers and asserts outright falsehoods about Koch. Get the full facts on KochFacts.com.”
Such aggressive tactics have become part of the playbook for Koch Industries and its owners, Charles and David Koch. Faced with news articles they consider flawed or biased, the brothers and their lieutenants don’t just send strongly worded letters to the editor in protest. Instead, the company takes the offensive, with detailed responses that oscillate between correcting, shaming and slamming journalists who’ve written unflattering stories about the company or the Kochs’ myriad political and philanthropic activities.
More from the Firedoglake blog:
This effort parallels the Koch Brothers’ other plan to silence critics — buying them out. The Kochs are in the process of bidding on the Tribune Company which publishes the Chicago Tribune, LA Times, and other media properties. That comes after it was revealed that the Koch Brothers were receiving favorable treatment by PBS due to their generous contributions.
The Koch brothers may soon have a fully integrated system — politicians, policy planners, protesters and the press. Who would dare stand against such a war machine? Who could? The Kochs are proving once again that America is the best democracy money can buy.