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).
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?
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