PBS and the Koch Brother Scandal (plus “Koch Brothers Exposed”)

PBS declined to show “Citizen Koch, a documentary about the Wisconsin public union issue, treating the influence of the dirty energy magnates who are destroying the world through climate change and funding climate change denial, among the various other nefarious things they do. This according to the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer. It points to the dangers of declining public funding for institutions such as PBS in favor of corporate sponsorships and the donations of the rich. No wonder investigative journalism is an endangered species!

Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films on the other hand is crowdsourced and can’t be so easily deterred:

Robert Greenwald’s “Koch Brothers Exposed”:

11 Responses

  1. Dear PBS, I have watched your programming since I was a kid, and have continued this love affair with your programming to this very day, in fact, I fall asleep to The Cosmos with Carl “just as good as xanex” Sagan every night. I have always found comfort in knowing that your programming will be far superior to anything else on television and this decision is a true shock to me. I had a feeling a few years ago when I started to see the Koch sponsorship in your programming that is was a disasterous decision by your management. This is THE worst possible time to allow this to happen and I don’t need to elaborate on why, do I? I feel like my wife has cheated on me and ran off with the rich neighbor and my dog. PLEASE CUT TIES WITH THEIR FUNDING. They are a subversive and anti-democratic force that we can’t allow to poison our last bastion decency on television. What heartbreaking news, and I’ve noticed NPR giving right-wing aristocracy air-time to regurgitate their fear-mongering misinformation against OUR government. Everyone knows they we can’t play nice with these people and for you to leave the door unlocked for (in my opinion) a treasonous family with much more sinister plans than most people are aware of. Please ditch their sponsorship. I’m sure we can find a way to make up the difference in what their funding would be. Mr. Soros, possibly? Bangelina? You aren’t trying hard enough, and now I will always have a sneaking suspicion about the motives in your programming. Wow this sucks!! Thanks PBS, for ruining my evening….

    One Pissed Off Viewer & Donor

  2. David Koch is a major funder of one of PBS’ stellar shows, “Nature,” which is a sad ironic joke in and of itself. (I think it’s Nature but it might be Nova; I can’t recall which at the moment but it’s still early in the morning.) But whether it’s the NewsHour (which Paul Krugman refers to as the ‘Noose Our’) and its refusal to call out guests who mouth patently untrue talking points or, now, not airing a documentary on the Koch’s, PBS is becoming a mere shadow of its once great former self.

    The decision uncovered by Jane Meyer’s “New Yorker” article indeed reveals how Big Right is succeeding in slowly killing off independent thought in the US. Attacks on funding of public broadcasting is the most obvious symptom but it is pervasive throughout our political, economic and cultural life.

  3. PBS News Hour was severely compromised long before Jane Mayer outed David Koch’s funding.

    I stopped watching the program ten years ago when they joined the choir cheering the Iraq invasion. PBS could not be bothered with airing dissenting voices.

    Today when I briefly watch the News Hours when channel surfing, I am struck by how the program never strays beyond the conventional narrative, never asks tough questions, and always defers to the government point of view.

  4. Koch funds NOVA, and apparently is on the board of WGBH. This is hardly a new item in the spectrum of greedybad, this is from 2010:

    They don’t make ombudsmen like they used to. Once upon a time, when numerous viewers launched a credible complaint against even the appearance of loss of objectivity and conflict of interest, the ombudsman would seriously investigate the matter, talking to parties on both sides, and then rendering some considered independent judgment.

    But not PBS ombudsman Michael Getler. He seems to have no trouble whatsoever with David Koch, a leading funder of the anti-scientific climate disinformation campaign (and the anti-science Tea Party), funding an episode of the great science show Nova, which:

    is an effort to greenwash Koch’s activities
    just happens to whitewash the threat human-caused global warming

    Getler ignores the first concern entirely, and his entire defense of Nova’s dubious entanglement with Koch is “As a viewer of what strikes me and a lot of others as a consistently first-rate program, I trust NOVA.” The beauty of that defense is that it could apply equally well to essentially every PBS show. Hey, they are all first rate programs, so what the heck are you listeners complaining about?

    Getler apparently sees himself the “Maytag repairman” of ombudsman. PBS ain’t broke, so don’t try to fix it. Here’s the background on why he’s wrong — and why Nova’s own defense is also wrong:…

    link to thinkprogress.org

    And then there’s this little bit, too, with a nice picture of Shaitan and his lady… link to gothamist.com

    The thing about cancer is that it is relentless and obscure and most people don’t want to know they have it cooking away…

  5. I agree with the above comments.

    I like NOVA when its about science;it puzzles me that a Koch Brother sponsors NOVA when the program usually asserts that there is too much CO2 in the atmosphere.

    I too notice that the Right Wing is often on the Newshour, expressing its point of view. The Newshour, and all the Sunday talk shows, are sponsored, in part, by the oil companies. They have all lost their edge.

    • I admit its a subtle thing, but think about how this plays from the Koch’s perspective, or that of any other plutocrat with an agenda:

      1-They make a huge no-strings contribution to their target. I should add that at the local art cinema I was similarly puzzled to see them as key underwriters of a rather hard-hitting documentary, I think it may have been “Inside Job.” Still, an ongoing program like Front LIne or Nova makes the point far better.

      2-Then they just sit there quietly at the head of the donor list. Especially over time the recipient of their largesse comes to rely on it even more. They may have to stiffle themselves from time-to-time in the early going, but the idea is to get them hooked on your patronage.

      3-And Step 3, like the Medicis of old, if it should even become necessary, they simply send a cast brow at their ever-attendant and yet straying supplicant. Such folks are managers who have gotten to their positions by serving the wishes of those in power, in a beautifully insightful line from Mad Men, “before they [their clients] even know they have a problem.”

      That the PR department of the Koch’s should have had to do something as gauche as call someone at NPR, or otherwise show their displeasure, is more a reflection of the Koch’s vulgarity and clumsiness. In most cases, across society, such overt “corrections” never have to be made.

  6. This is simply great press. Far more people will now seek out and watch this documentary than otherwise. Once again, the Koch Brothers demonstrate that they do not understand how this all works in the 21st century.

    • The Kochs probably understand more than you know, and besides, like our FL Gov. Evil Tonedeaf Scott, they have “people” to advise them on how things work currently

      Besides, all they have to do is keep the merry-go-round turning for the length of their miserable God-forsaken life spans. Since so far, at least, the Reaallly Rich have not been able to buy or steal deluxe, extended, Methusalem-quality lifespans… Other than maybe that Undead Cheney guy (will he really get a “state funeral?”)… though of course the Science they in other realms spurn is working hard on that, and you can bet that “anti-death therapies” will not be part of the Medicare approved list of treatments — for “private pay” only. “Apres them, le deluge,” so why should they give a ratf___? What could those Left Behind possibly do to get revenge or retribution or restitution from their ashes or desiccated or maybe cryofrozen-in-hope-of-Scientific-resurrection corpses?

      Talk about moral hazard, and perverse incentives. Libertarians love it, the very definition of success…

  7. PBS has lost all my trust and all our nation’s trust.
    they took the 30 pieces of silver.
    To kill an exposé for $23million is a disgrace.
    So David Koch is the science editor now?
    He donate a lot to make schools teach global warming DENIAL courses. and PBS sucks up to such scum.
    The program isn’t much good anymore.
    They should kill the program, delete it
    John D in Iowa

  8. NPR and PBS have needed to have the first letter of their names removed for over 10 years. PR and BS are outlets of propaganda and controllers of the narrative of ongoing fear/terror for our plutocratic controlled government.

  9. Anyone else think this actually hurts the Koch brothers more? On the one hand, PBS stays friends with them. On the other hand, much more publicity for this documentary. Isn’t that a win-win?

    As for the future of television: get over it. Stop watching TV. It sucks.

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