Media Drinks Deeply Of Koch Brothers Kool-Aid


Last month, the Koch Brothers — who collectively represent the real life Montgomery Burns — announced their intention to create a “media awareness campaign” designed to illustrate the brighter side of fossil fuels. The effort would benefit from $10,000,000 in funding to help pave the information highway. its goal is to show people why making electricity from coal makes sense (for the Koch Brothers), why electric cars are bad (for the Koch Brothers), and why renewable energy is bad business (for the Koch Brothers).

How Koch Brothers attack renewable energy

It didn’t take long for the new campaign, managed by Koch Industries stalwart James Mahoney, to get down to business. Here, in no particular order, are the titles of several articles that have appeared in influential publications in just the past few days.

From Forbes on March 7 — Forget The Gas Tax, Here’s How Policymakers Make Drivers Pay. The subtitle for Twitter is, “CAFE standards are not an effective climate change policy; they are a meaningless gesture.” The article purports to be an opinion piece written by Forbes contributor Jared Mayer based on a conversation he had with Salim Furth.

A little research turns up that Mayer is “a fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.” And what is the Manhattan Institute? According to Wikipedia, it “is a conservative American think tank established in New York City in 1978 by Antony Fisher and William J. Casey. The organization describes its mission as to ‘develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility’. ” In other words, Mayer is not a journalist. He is a mouthpiece for hire who is available to the highest bidder.

Salim Furth bills himself as a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. It, in turn, describes itself as ” a conservative research think tank based in Washington D.C.” In other words, both Mayer and Furth are directly affiliated with two of the many conservative foundations funded by Koch Brothers money.

Also on March 7, another “opinion” piece was published by Fortune. It was entitled, What Electric-Car Lovers Get Wrong About Fossil Fuels. It features a photo of a the interior of a Telsa Model S and carries the subtitle, “Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize the lifestyle choices of the wealthiest 20%.” It is written by none other than James Mahoney, head flack for Koch Industries.


On March 11, the Wall Street Journal jumped on the Koch Brothers bandwagon with another so-called opinion piece entitled Voters Should Be Mad at Electric Cars. It is subtitiled, “If Trump and Sanders fans hate absurd handouts to elites, the Tesla economy is the place to look.” That piece was written by Homan W. Jenkins, Jr., a long time member of the WSJ editorial board known for his extreme right wing views.

The Koch Brothers onslaught is not limited to media in the US. Another piece of op-ed silliness appeared on March 11 in The Herald Scotland entitled Agenda: Time to get off the back of fossil fuels and show support rather than back daft divestment campaigns. That article was written by Murdo Fraser. The newspaper didn’t bother to provide any background on young Murdo, but Wikipedia says he “is a Scottish politician and the former Deputy leader of the Scottish Conservative Party in the Scottish Parliament.”While at university, Fraser was a member of the Scottish Young Conservatives.

Is it just a coincidence that four scathing articles attacking electric cars and renewable energy should appear within 4 days of each other? Or could it be that James Mahoney has started spreading around some of that $10,000,000 he got from his employers to various editors in exchange for space on their editorial pages?

We report, you retort. Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I’m interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

  • Shiggity

    It’s a tactical assault, like you see in military offensives. This is exactly what happens when money = speech. Citizens United marked the downfall of democracy.

    If wealth inequality pushes too much further in the US, get ready for some violent redistribution. History has taught this lesson well, over, and over, and over.

    • Steve Hanley

      I have to say, I couldn’t agree with you more, especially when it comes to Citizens United. It may be that the Constitution permits everyone to voice an opinion, but there is a big difference between the normal speaking voice, which is all most of us have at our disposal, and a 10,000,000 watt amplifier, which is what the Koch Brothers have at their disposal.

      The bozos on the Supreme Court who tout themselves as “originalists,” peering through the mist of time to discern what the people who wrote it really had in mind – Antonin Scalia was the leader of that band – make me laugh. Show me ONCE where the word “corporation” was used in the original document. Can’t do it? Then your whole argument is nothing but a lie made up to please your corporate masters.

      And make no mistake about it – the USSC is the most political court in the land. 4 of its members are graduates of The Federalist Society, including Scalia. How is it possible that a near majority of the court is made up of hard right ideologues? Coincidence? Nope. They were nurtured by the Federalist Society and owe unswerving loyalty to its policies and beliefs.

      Republicans don’t want jurists. They want to WIN by any means, fair or foul.

      • super390

        In fact, Jefferson hated big business. His fantasy republic was all farmers, big and small, with no real diversity. He feared an urbanized commercial economy with growing numbers of propertyless workers whom his system could not accommodate. In one of his books he called for Black slaves to be freed but then expelled from Virginia. He knew that diversity of race and interest among voters would lead to more disputes and more government to referee them.

        You could even argue that the Revolution was as much against corporations as the King, because the real ruler of Britain was Parliament, and the East India Company, Britain’s most powerful corporation, had many friends there leading to the famous tea tax dispute. British joint-stock companies financed the early colonial plantations and thus had a stake in the slave economy. Yet after independence, the special liability advantages of corporations were unknown. States chartered companies for limited purposes and duration. Interstate corporations did not exist.

        The key gimmick, as you may have heard, was the perversion of the 14th Amendment freeing the slaves by clever corporate lawyers who argued that corporations were also “persons” under that act. If you defeat that argument, then the Originalists have no legs to stand on.

        But the simplest argument against the Originalists is, “If the Founding Fathers thought their laws were infallible, then why did they spell out so many mechanisms for changing the laws?”

    • Jim Smith

      money only comes into play because of the massive size and scope of government. If government did not have all the powers it has, money would be unable to buy it.

      • super390

        You libertarians all lie about how the rich used the “limited” government of the past to oppress the poor.
        1. State militias were called out by governors to put down striking workers about 200 times between the Civil War and WW2. Governors using guns to hold down wages for their favorite citizens.
        2. Under Jim Crow, slavery was replaced by prison labor, and all-White juries obviously had biases in who was sent to prison. The county would then rent the slaves to the richest local businessmen.
        3. The militia system itself, decentralized privatized warfare & thus libertarian-approved, was absolutely biased in favor of the rich, who had such an advantage in creating their own pet militia regiments out of their henchmen that the term “Colonel” became a nascent aristocratic title in the South. In New York, militias of the rich landlords waged war against rebellious tenant farmers – the Monitor War.

        In the absence of government, the rich of the frontier simply formed their own armies and ruled tenants until rebellions erupted. In the South, the rich employed the KKK to attack farmers’ movements, as El Salvador-style death squads.

        In 1934 some of America’s leading capitalist families, led by members of the DuPont clan and joined by G. W. Bush’s grandfather, tried to organize a national militia of unemployed veterans bigger than the US Army of the time, for the secret purpose of blackmailing FDR into not implementing the New Deal. They were exposed in Congressional hearings by Gen. Smedley Butler, who had tricked them into confiding in him. But this was a common response; many rich people during that era advocated the violent enforcement of free enterprise instead of feeding the poor.

        The solution was to reduce the inequality of wealth in America with spectacular success over the following 45 years. The government had power, but wealth was not yet concentrated enough to buy control of political parties and promote far-right extremists. Much of the wealth that now buys government comes from the bounty of deregulation: financial chicanery, ignored pollution, and consequence-free outsourcing. Exactly the policies that libertarians said would make America great again.

        • Jim Smith

          huh? The “rich” can not order state militias to do anything. Thanks for citing an example of the government using is power to hurt people to prove my point.

          The “rich”, which includes a whole lot of Democrats by the way, have money to do things. If laws are being broken, it is the governments job to make sure that is not happening…you know defend the Bill of Rights, etc…

          Under Jim Crow, the government used its power to create prison labor. The government would rent people out. Again showing the corrupting power of big government, proving my point.

          Again, and again, you illustrate the failings of the government having too much power, proving my point

  • BigWu

    Whistling Dixie in a Confederate graveyard.
    Coal is now uneconomic, despite massive subsidies and unpriced externalities. And gasmobiles? When even Ferrari is forced to electrify (La Ferrari hybrid) to compete with seven seat EVs (Tesla X and S), it’s game over.

  • Duke Woolworth

    The Kochs are secure in the knowledge that libruls are anti-gun and don’t shoot opponents.
    Don’t tempt me.

  • Kerry Carter

    They are showing fear. Weak. By throwing money at it. You put those two in the real world with everyday people, they would perish.

  • darth

    Typical Koch FUD. I would trade all the solar and EV incentives for a real carbon tax. But since we don’t have that, we have these workarounds. You don’t have to make that much to get the $7,500 tax credit. And you can use it for a cheaper car than a Tesla, like a Leaf. Like that guy in Colorado who got a brand new 2015 Leaf for $8,500 net cost.

    • Steve Hanley

      Good points. Thanks.

  • kevin mccune

    The trouble is the proletariat cant think for themselves (see my boss is so munificent He allows me to get up everyday at 4AM to come to work for Him in all weather conditions and make enough to buy cigarettes and beer and run around all weekend(if He doesnt want us to work saturday ,careful about the OT however )Wake up people big business could care less about Joe average,you think slavery and bondage ended with the civil war ?You best think again,the ones that have are going to let you get out of the hole very far .The conservatives are not your freind anyone that would send you to your death ,cant be that user friendly,they can bitch about subsidies for energy saving devices and yet overlook the permanent damage the gov’t assists them with harming the enviroment.
    “Clean Coal ” what an oxymoron .