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Question: Should two of the richest men in the richest country on earth set up a separate company to handle public relations if they want to remain reclusive in Wichita, Arkansas and Manhattan Island, New York?

I'd say, since that's what Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch have done, their concerns about privacy can be rightfully questioned. Tasking Melissa Cohlmia
Director, Corporate Communication, Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC with chiding Art Brisbane at the New York Times for the kind of coverage provided, especially in the opinion and culture sections, suggests a concern over style, rather than substance.  The coverage is great, but they'd like it to be more Koch-friendly.

The whole exchange with Arthur Brisbane can be found on the web site which, presumably, puts it all into the public domain.  But, I think I'll restrict myself to the palliative blather dished out be Art in his responses to "Missy," a rather disrespectful form of address from where I sit.

Anyway, Art opines:

I will agree in the broad sense that, taken together, it is clear that this community of opinion-based writers — as distinct from news reporters producing material for the main news sections — clearly share a worldview that is liberal and antithetical to the Koch brothers’ political perspective.

and goes on to bite the hand that feeds him:

I remain steadfastly opposed to the paper proffering only liberal perspectives in news coverage. But in the opinion-based features of the paper, The Times is within its right to do this. In my view, it makes for predictable and sometimes very dull reading. But others apparently don’t agree.

Never mind that he's conceding that there are "liberal perspectives in news coverage."

So, I actually have some sympathy for Ms. Cohlmia's retort:

We would still like to hear some justification from senior Times editors about why the articles involving us are so heavily weighted — in topic, frequency, and content — toward the left wing perspective.

Why couldn't he just come out and say that the motives of people intent on sucking up riches while the wages of working people go down are suspect as far as the welfare of the general citizenry (forget charity cases) is concerned?

On the other hand, one is moved to wonder how such apparently thin-skinned individuals got to be industrial moguls.  Are their days longer than those of everyone else?  No doubt, the answer is that they employ a clipping service, as do many of the denizens of Capitol Hill, who are, after all, charged with being responsive to the public.  Why the Koch brothers resent being referenced in connection with what members of the Occupy movement eat is a bit puzzling.

Let me reiterate that these are far from the only such examples. In October, a Times dining critic commenting about what protestors prefer to eat wrote, “Unlike the Tea Party, funded as it is by wealthy reactionaries like the Koch Brothers, ‘Occupy’ is sustained by energy, frustration…pizza and apples paid for by supporters or donated by farmers.” In November, one of your columnists denounced where we choose to live, saying, “even when oligarchs clearly get their income from heartland, red-state sources, where do they live? OK, one of the Koch brothers still lives in Wichita; but the other lives in New York.” And though the group Americans for Prosperity has tens of thousands of members, supporters, and co-founders, it is routinely described specifically as a project of ours.

The choice of the pronoun "we" suggests that the Kochs had time to dictate this missive themselves.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Would it be rude to suggests that the (20+ / 0-)

    Kochs are envious that the Occupiers are succeeding where their Tea Party endeavor failed?
    "Tens of thousands" is not an impressive number when we consider that KOS has hundreds of thousands.
    Apparently, there just aren't as many mean spirited people as there are generous ones.

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 12:39:34 PM PST

  •  It seems we peasants are revolting. (n/t) (5+ / 0-)
  •  Hannah, isn't the "obscurity" of such super-wealth (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hannah, highacidity

    somewhat akin to the blank white space of a dedicated contemporary art gallery? It is a reversal of vulgar desire, one that presupposes that "normal" (meaning, "non-powerful") people desire visibility while adhering to the real or fantastic idea that visibility = power. When you are so powerful that visibility≠ power, you disdain visibility, and will protect your obscurity at any cost. You define "shadow cabinet" or "cabal" in its most medieval cast.

    In an age of overwhelming noise, the "blank white wall" of the gallery is the keenest signifier of taste, of "standing above the fray." Apple Inc has been very canny about emulating not an empty signifier, but a signifier of emptiness, which is actually a very full and potent thing.

    The Koch's shadow-life is a shadow of this blankness. The gallery blankness reveals the art, the Koch's blankness conceals the actual reaches of power.

    I am reminded of the Tessier-Ashpool construct in Gibson's Neuromancer: wealth so great that the only thing left to do is secure immortality. ALEC seems an apt expression of that thought. Imagine being a shadow-cabinet and whispering your ideas and desires into a corrupt government covertly, under the full cloak of legislative process, viral dissemination through Randian mountain retreats, everyone there in brownian motion to your seminal injection.

    •  What I think about the Kochs is that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      historys mysteries, highacidity

      they are figureheads.  Somebody else is running their enterprises in their name. They're like royals behind whose throne the regents and ministers carry out their machinations.
      That, IMHO, is why they have time to worry about being referenced in an article on the eating habits of occupiers.
      David, at least, seems clueless.  He admits to not having realized until he was in his fifties that it might be useful to have an heir. Their assets are derived from acquiring natural resources from which energy can be produced.  They've got dirty coal, so they bought up some inert mineral that when mixed with the dirty coal allows it to be "cleaned."  They invested in derailing legislators in the Northeast who support the Northeast energy compact, a cap and trade program that's actually working to reduce emissions and, I guess, putting stress on old plants.
      I don't know much about energy production, but I guess there's a big difference between adjusting the fuel mixture and scrubbing the emissions in the stack. Don't know which is better, but Americans for Prosperity targeted our Congresswoman in New Hampshire for replacement by a real dufus, probably because they didn't like her objectivity on the Natural Resources Committee, and that was just plain stupid. If Koch had any rational argument, she would have understood.

      People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

      by hannah on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 01:49:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's all in their "wording" (4+ / 0-)

     Consider the wording:  ...And though the group AFP has tens of thousands of members, supporters and co-founders...
       So there were tens of thousands of co-founders?  
        Consider the NPR article from Feb, 2010:  

    And Americans for Prosperity, or AFP, has long been rumored to be financed by David Koch, of the family that owns Koch Industries. That's one of the biggest privately held companies in America, and the family has a long history of underwriting conservative causes.

    David Koch confirmed the rumors at an AFP convention last fall. "Five years ago my brother Charles and I provided the funds to start the Americans for Prosperity. And it's beyond my wildest dreams how the AFP has grown into this enormous organization," David Koch said, according to audio from the online news site The Washington Independent.

      Me think they doth protest too much!

  •  i always thought that the kochs (5+ / 0-)

    preferred to be under the radar and anonymous.  they must be feeling the heat if they are suddenly drawing attention to themselves.

    hope springs eternal and DAMN is she getting tired!

    by alguien on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 02:02:43 PM PST

  •  If the NY Times looks left-wing to you, (5+ / 0-)

    methinks you are standing much too far to the right.

    Don't let millionaires steal Social Security.
    I said, "Don't let millionaires steal Social Security!"

    by Leo in NJ on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 02:20:05 PM PST

  •   Koch bros & others so enormously wealthy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    highacidity, hannah

    have in all likelihood never been forced to answer to anyone, (their father or mother notwithstanding perhaps), so it seems they never learned how and with their wealth can afford not to be held to account.

    Why they're allowing themselves to become part of the MSM is puzzling to me. Political aspirations again? Probably not. In real trouble? probably not, but when one wields such power over so much, what may seem like a small slight to most of us may be just enough to rattle their omnipotent egos.

    This is actually a very good sign.
    Also about Bribane's weak response about balance in the reporting:
     Public opinion is heavily on the side of what has been poorly labeled as the "liberal" viewpoint.
    Huge wealth in a tiny .001% minority doesn't deserve to be balanced/corrected against the peoples voice.

     Money doesn't even belong on the scale

  •  Bullies can always dish it out, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    highacidity, hannah

    but rarely can take it.  People with lots of money and power have no clue what motivates the rest of us.  They really do believe that they can buy anything if the price is right.

    Mitt's recent "envy" comments are illustrative.  He assumes that if we were all rich enough, we would identify with him.  He and his ilk have no clue what we value.  They think that enough money will magically make us blind to the inequities in this country and the wider world.  

    If they were at all observant, they'd see that many of their base are in similar economic conditions to us, yet they vote for and support conservatives.  It really isn't about the money at all.  It's about something more innate, more primal in human beings.  Some people are just more naturally drawn to conservatism than others.  Of course, the studies which seem to confirm this are science-based, so they'd deny those, as well.  Strange bunch, the filthy rich...

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 06:35:24 PM PST

  •  I agree with Eric Nelson above... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, hannah

    … this is a good sign. As long as the Kochs do not have their request that the NYT stop being so mean to them.

    They want no light to expose their doings.

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