In June of 2019, we wondered if Tucker Carlson’s souring on the Kochs might have anything to do with the Koch network reducing its funding to the Daily Caller, as 84% of its revenue in 2016 was from the Kochs, a figure that dropped to 38% in 2017- but only because they were getting more from other sources. In 2015, the Koch foundation gave the Daily Caller roughly $600,000, before upping that to around $950,000 in 2016 and 2017.
In 2018, however, the Koch foundation only reported giving the Daily Caller $746,250 in general operating support (along with $400,000 for Reason, $75,000 for RealClear, $200,000 for Heritage, $130,000 to Spiked, and $768,000 to the Federalist Society, among many, many others. Overall the Charles Koch Foundation “invested $127.5 million in building right-wing infrastructure in 2018,” according to CMD.)
While we’ll have to wait for them to file 2019’s 990 to see if that declining trend continues, we can see that the Daily Caller has continued to shed its climate-focused staff in a way that one would expect if a major climate-denier funder were winding down support.
Because in July of 2019, just a couple weeks after the initial Carlson-Koch spat, we noticed that the Caller’s consummate climate denier scribe and Koch-trainee Michael Bastasch had left the operation.
Since then, when we expected some of the Caller’s other occasionally-climate-covering “reporters” to fill the vacuum, there have only been further exits. Jason Hopkins, for example, started at DC in 2018, and was quick to use the position to turn rightwing propaganda into “news.” But it seems he and the Daily Caller parted ways in May of 2020, and his twitter indicates he’s now at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a supporting organization of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which is an SPLC-designated hate group. (Yet another example of the Daily Caller’s white nationalism problem.)
Before that, though, it appeared that former Lamar Smith staffer and CATO intern Andrew Follet would be one of the Daily Caller’s star climate denial reporters, with multiple stories in 2015 and 2016 that just blatantly misrepresented studies. But 2017 was the end of his time at the Caller, and he’s now at the dark money Republican donor group Club for Growth, where he has plenty of time to complain about not having friends anymore because of his support for Trump.
More recently, the latest one to leave appears to be Chris White, who was officially a tech reporter, but with the last of his posts ending in September, now appears to only be an “Alum” of the Caller, per his Twitter. Chris was emerging as the most likely to fill Bastasch’s shoes as the Daily Caller’s resident “I’ll print whatever a Koch group hands me” guy, with totally empty stories attacking climate-concerned politicians or communicators indicating his willingness to put his name on anything- even someone else’s story!
We’ll have to wait and see what’s next for White, though if his former colleagues are any indication, the odds are that he’ll get picked up at a different rightwing propaganda shop.
In the meantime, we’ll keep an eye out for who, if anyone, takes up the mantle of the Daily Caller’s resident conduit to the climate denial networks. So far, (anti-)climate stories these days appear to be going to random elections and various political contributors, while, as we’ve noted recently, RealClear rises to the top of the bottom of the climate denial media barrel...
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