Sunday, September 12, 2010

David Koch is Butthurt and Elaine Lafferty is Here to Apply the Salve

David Kock at the podium of a known Astroturf/teabagger outfit: Americans for Prosperity

Following a link from the sidebar on Rachel Maddow's blog, I was led to this short clip from her show, "Free press confounds man who can buy anything." This is a delicious bit of snark directed at David Koch, who simply does not care for those people who report on his less savory activities.

(alt. video link)

As you'll have noted, Maddow mentioned a piece about Koch in The Daily Beast, which is not the Tucker Carlson webzine but that other one. Turns out the piece was written by one Elaine Lafferty. We will now go off on a brief tangent to examine this member of the Liberal Media, So Called.

On her DB bio page, we see that she is "a former staff correspondent at Time magazine." Also from there, we see that Lafferty has authored several other DB posts, two of which are "Palin's Smart Move" and "Sarah Palin's a Brainiac."

Trust me. You don't want to click those links. They are about as fawningly nauseating as you could imagine.

There is one line that I cannot resist sharing, though. From the latter, written in 2008: "I'm a Democrat, but I've worked as a consultant with the McCain campaign since shortly after Palin's nomination." One wonders if at other times, she has also said, "I used to consider myself a Democrat, but thanks to 9/11, I’m outraged by Chappaquiddick."

I am reminded of another journamalist who can't stop gushing about Palin, what's her name, that Scientologist from FoxNews … Oh, here, back on that Lafferty bio page: "She is co-author of My Turn at the Bully Pulpit with Greta Van Susteren."

Okay, now that we have some sense of where Elaine Lafferty is coming from, let's get back to David Koch and his butthurt.

First, a little context. You might recall that in late August, Jane Mayer wrote a long New Yorker piece on the Koch brothers -- "Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama." Mayer was unable to get an interview with either David or his brother Charles:

The Kochs and their political operatives declined requests for interviews. Instead, a prominent New York public-relations executive who is close with the Kochs put forward two friends …

After the piece ran, Koch Industries put out a press release ("Response to Recent Media Attacks"). At the same time, Nick Gillespie, the editor of the glibertarian rag, Reason magazine, attempted to debunk Mayer's piece. (For both, see here.) Reason, as you may or may not know, is also largely funded by Koch. Evidently, this double-barreled response didn't suffice, and so, amazingly, Lafferty was able to get an interview with David Koch.

There is not much to recommend about Lafferty's piece, unless for some reason you wanted to verify her skills as an uncritical stenographer. For example:

But, he says, no one from the Tea Party movement has ever approached him for money, and when I ask him straight up if he’s funding the Tea Party, all he says is, “Oh, please.”

Hard-nosed reporter that she is, she asks a series of penetrating follow-up questions quickly moves on to another topic: his donations to Democrats.

To which I will pause to say, y'know, Ms. Lafferty, I'd think someone in your position would not be shocked, shocked to find out that rich people give money to both parties, especially when they're aware that the one they favor less is about to be in power. It's called buying access and future consideration. I might also observe that David Koch giving politicians or anybody else a couple hundred thou over the years is about like me buying a piece of penny candy and getting back change.

There is one useful thing in Lafferty's piece, though: as part of her description of the "media attacks" on poor David Koch, she mentions another profile, written about a month before Jane Mayer's New Yorker piece. This one is by Andrew Goldman, and it ran on on 25 July 2010. It's worth a read.

Lafferty wraps up her fluffery with several paragraphs of glowing description of the donations Koch has made to fund cancer research. To which I say, BFD. This doesn't make him a saint or even necessarily altruistic. He has cancer. He's undoubtedly acting, at least in large part, out of self-interest. A more honest reporter, like Andrew Goldman let us say, might have mentioned something like this:

“I’ve been living with it for sixteen years,” he told me two years ago. “I look pretty healthy, don’t I? My doctor thinks the treatment I’ve been getting will work for many more years, but eventually it will fail. So I’ve been financing the development of other treatments that could kick in when the traditional treatments I’m getting stop working.”

Oh, and let's just have a couple of other bits from Goldman's piece, to illustrate some other things Lafferty did not address. How about the oilman's view of global warming?

"The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because a far greater land area will be available to produce food," he says.

Tell it to the Russians, as I have observed elsewhere.

Delusions of grandeur?

“That I was saved when all those others died. I felt that the good Lord spared my life for a purpose. And since then, I’ve been busy doing all the good works I can think of.”

Further comment here, as they say, would be superfluous.

And to close out, let's get back to the Koch bankrolling of the teabagger movement, and observe Goldman doing a bit more than just obediently typing, "Oh, please."

On October 3 of last year, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott hotel in Arlington, Virginia, Koch spoke from a podium at the Defending the American Dream Summit, a convention put on by Americans for Prosperity Foundation. The convention had brought out 2,000 attendees and an impressive roster of speakers from the right, from Senator Jim DeMint to Newt Gingrich to the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund. There was little doubt as to Koch’s importance to the group. “Right from the beginning,” said AFP president Tim Phillips, “it was David’s vision that launched our organization.” Then Koch took the microphone. “When we founded this organization five years ago,” he said, “we envisioned a mass movement …"


“David Koch likes putting his name on all his things that aren’t evil,” says Lee Fang, a blogger for the liberal “He’ll put his name on his theater at Lincoln Center, but look at the Americans for Prosperity website and his name is virtually missing. All of his groups have used these same tea-party tactics before they actually had the tea-party brand.” Americans for Prosperity, AFPF’s political arm, has certainly not shied away from joining arms with the tea party. In April of last year, AFP took credit on its website for helping to organize Taxpayer Tea Party rallies in Sacramento, Austin, and Madison, and told visitors to “save the date” for National Tea Party Tax Day in Washington, which AFP would be hosting.

That's probably as much attention as Elaine Lafferty deserves. However, you might be interested in reading more about about the Koch brothers and their less well-publicized funding activities. For example, Goldman says towards the end of his article:

In April, Fang posted a dossier on Koch that attributes to his groups a decades-long pattern of “Astroturfing”—funding movements designed to look grassroots, but which in fact represent corporate interests.

I believe Goldman is referring to this: "From Promoting Acid Rain To Climate Denial, Over 20 Years Of David Koch’s Polluter Front Groups."

Lee Fang and his colleagues at Think Progress have put together quite a bit more documentation. Start with their posts tagged Koch.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to be so late to the party, but Lafferty has other skeletons in her closet as an 'objective' 'journalist.'

She not only wrote "Brainiac" puffery re: Sarah Palin whilst on the payroll of the McCain/Palin campaign. . .a Nevada corporation under her name and address also received hefty payments from SarahPAC in the Spring of 2009.

She's a mouthpiece for hire, that's what that is, and no longer an independent journalist of any stripe. I suspect another hefty payment will be found within some sort of Koch PAC or other, hidden under some other corporate name.


Brendan said...

Better late than never, MicMac. Thanks for the additional info.

Here's a Google page for those interested in looking into this further.