In most respects, the New Yorker is a great magazine. It’s politics are liberal, but usually not enough to enrage. Here Ira Stoll takes them to task:
The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer breathlessly profiles Charles and David Koch in an article headlined “Covert Operations: The Billionaire Brothers Who Are Waging a War Against Obama.”
The idea that the campaign is “covert” is echoed in the text of the article, which says, “In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular.”
Ms. Mayer also uses an anonymous quote to try to prove her point: “The Republican campaign consultant said of the family’s political activities, ‘To call them under the radar is an understatement. They are underground!'”
But there’s nothing covert or stealthy or underground about it, as evidenced by the fact that Ms. Mayer is able to write about it in her article. The details are readily available on Web sites, federal election records available on the Internet, and in tax returns that are posted on Web sites.
Ms. Mayer lets “Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group,” sum up the Koch brothers: “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”
Charles Lewis is a left-winger and the Center for Public Integrity gets its funding from left-wing foundations including George Soros’s Open Society Institute and Barbra Streisand’s Streisand Foundation.
The New Yorker also quotes “Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, who once worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that the Kochs fund.” Yet Mr. Bartlett since the Bush administration has been a harsh public critic of conservatives.
Here’s Ms. Mayer’s take on F.A. Hayek:
Charles and David Koch were particularly influenced by the work of Friedrich von Hayek, the author of “The Road to Serfdom” (1944), which argued that centralized government planning led, inexorably, to totalitarianism. Hayek’s belief in unfettered capitalism has proved inspirational to many conservatives, and to anti-Soviet dissidents; lately, Tea Party supporters have championed his work. In June, the talk-radio host Glenn Beck, who has supported the Tea Party rebellion, promoted “The Road to Serfdom” on his show; the paperback soon became a No. 1 best-seller on Amazon.
No mention of Hayek’s Nobel prize, or of the fact that his work has been highly praised by none other than President Obama’s economic policy aide Lawrence Summers.
Some critics have suggested that the Kochs’ approach has subverted the purpose of tax-exempt giving. By law, charitable foundations must conduct exclusively nonpartisan activities that promote the public welfare. A 2004 report by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a watchdog group, described the Kochs’ foundations as being self-serving, concluding, “These foundations give money to nonprofit organizations that do research and advocacy on issues that impact the profit margin of Koch Industries.”