Among the Intellectualoids

Mother Knows Best?

Mother Jones investigates the billionaire Koch Brothers. Hypocrisy and stupidity ensue.

By 10.5.11

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It's hardly surprising that a recent piece in the uber-liberal rag Mother Jones attempted to expose a "close-up view" of a "dark-money fundraiser" hosted in June by oil billionaires and famous libertarian conservatives Charles and David Koch. After all, the country lies awash in media consumed with and perpetuated by a left-wing bias. But in this recession, where liberals believe President Obama and his economic team can jumpstart the economy, the vitriol the media possesses for the Koch brothers and their donors -- businesspeople who've created jobs and circulated wealth -- is as baffling as it is hypocritical.

At first it seemed unlikely that the Mother Jones piece would reveal anything different from the lengthy hit piece by Jane Meyer last year published in the New Yorker. Alas, even conservatives might find the hook of the piece alluring. Mother Jones obtained coveted audio of the seminar, wherein the names of donors who'd given $1 million or more to the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation were announced. The unfortunate faux pas provided the foundation for the story since the Koch brothers for all -- and because of -- their wealth are notoriously close-lipped about who donates to their organization. According to the piece, "the brothers have spent more than $100 million supporting hard-right political campaigns and institutions," and have "bankrolled the fledgling tea party by making massive investments in right-wing political advocacy groups such as Americans for Prosperity."

Indeed, the Koch brothers are to the subsidizing of conservative causes what George Soros is to liberal ones.

In a related piece, another Mother Jones reporter gives a breakdown of the "million-dollar club." The donors boast impressive resumes. From Rich and Helen DeVos (Cofounders of Amway and owners of the Orlando Magic -- worth $4.2 billion) to John Menard (owner of the hardware store, Menards -- worth $5.2 billion), the men and women on the list are mostly business people (some philanthropists) who have created and perpetuated jobs (and yes, wealth for themselves). They represent industries ranging from food service and natural gas to hedge funds and investing.

While it would be nearly impossible to determine how many people the companies these donors represent employ, it's safe to guess thousands of people alone earn a paycheck via Amway or Menards, just two of the companies represented on the list. Instead of pointing out the sheer economic impact the corporations have had proliferating jobs, the tone of the Mother Jones piece conveys disgust and a "gotcha!" attitude.  Apparently wealthy entrepreneurs should only give to Democrat causes and politicians a la Michael Moore or George Soros. Anyone who does otherwise should be hanged and quartered in print.

What of billion-dollar donors of the opposite political strain? Are their hard-earned funds also "dark-money"?  Obviously, a publication like Mother Jones wouldn't perform a similar investigation of liberal donors. (In fact, supposedly the names of donors who give to the magazine itself are kept under lock and key. Hypocrisy, thy name is Mother Jones. But I digress.)

Liberal bias in media is unfortunate but expected. Liberal bias when it comes to conservative money providing the fuel for conservative politicians, causes, and organizations is not only unfortunate but stupid.  There's enough wealth represented in Koch's list of 32 donors alone to guess seven degrees of separation might come into play here. If you've shopped at Menards or purchased a household product Amway sells, then you have benefited from the existence of a Koch donor.

During prosperity, the Mother Jones hit piece might have been chalked up to pure politics or even the green-eyed monster. But in austerity, it's unwise to bite the hand that feeds you -- even if they are conservatives. To claim a wealthy conservative who gives to a conservative organization like the Koch Foundation possesses "dark money" is pure jack. He's stimulating the very economy Obama has been claiming to for the last three years. Too bad liberal magazines are so busy perpetuating their own bias they can't figure that out.

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About the Author

Nicole Russell writes from Northern Virginia.