Charles Lewis, who founded the Center for Public Integrity with funding by George Soros, is now a tenured professor of journalism at American University. On June 30, he posted a study that he and his students affiliated with AU’s Investigative Reporting Workshop compiled about Koch. Thousands of words in length, the study repackages nearly every false and misleading attack leveled against Koch over the past couple of decades.
According to a story accompanying the study, Mr. Lewis and his classes at AU began working on this project in 2010. In light of recent disclosures, it is clear this timing was not a coincidence. 2010 was the same year that Koch became the target of an orchestrated campaign by the Obama administration and the partisan Left, with thousands of stories and blog postings attacking us that were written by the Center for American Progress, Mother Jones, The New York Times, Huffington Post, and other agenda-driven bloggers and media.
To illustrate the orchestration, 2010 was also the year that:
- President Obama repeatedly began calling out conservative groups in his speeches.
- The IRS began targeting tea party groups for special scrutiny, as well as groups that sought to educate the public about the Bill of Rights or desired to make the country a better place.
- Senior Obama Administration official, Austan Goolsbee, publicly accused Koch of not paying taxes without any factual basis, leading to a U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration investigation of his comments.
- An internal Media Matters for American memo laid out that organization’s and its allies’ three-year plan in support of its mission “to initiate actions that promote progressive thinking and policies in the media.”
- The Democrats and other activist groups began fundraising efforts on the backs of Koch, which continue to this day.
Although the Investigative Reporting Workshop began working on the study in 2010, Koch Industries had no inquiry from Mr. Lewis until we received this email from him four days prior to the study’s release on the evening of June 26:
I would like to request an interview with either Charles Koch or David Koch, or both.
For over 30 years, I have been a journalist and I am a professor at American University in Washington; here is my bio. Since 2008, I have also been the founding executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop, the largest (out of 18) nonprofit reporting news organization based at a university in the U.S. and the only one in Washington, DC.
I would like to speak with one or both of them in detail about their extraordinary philanthropy over many years, in the context of nonprofit, public policy-related organizations throughout the U.S., and many related topics.
If possible, I’d like to speak with either of them in the days ahead.
Thanks very much for considering this request.
Mr. Lewis apparently gave another ideological ally, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker an advance look at his study, however, because on Thursday evening, June 27, she reached out to us with this inquiry:
If possible I’d like to get comment on a study being released by American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop on Sunday, which focuses on Koch Industries. We’re publishing a short blog item about the study’s findings regarding the “No Climate Tax Pledge” promoted by Americans for Prosperity. In essence the blog piece says the pledge has been successful in discouraging the House of Representatives from passing legislation tackling climate change. According to the study, 411 current office holders nation-wide have signed the pledge.
The blog story will quote Charles Lewis, Executive Editor of American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop saying that, “There is no other corporation in the U.S. today, in my view, that is as unabashedly, bare knuckle aggressive across the board about its own self-interest, in the political process, in the nonprofit policy advocacy realm, even increasingly in academia and the broader public marketplace of ideas.”
Do you want to respond? We’d be glad to have a quote from you, or from anyone, reflecting the Kochs’ point of view. Please let me know if you’d like to add anything. We’ll close the blog tomorrow afternoon.
All best wishes, Jane.
We declined to participate in either Mr. Lewis’s or Ms. Mayer’s stories as we knew they were predisposed to support a misleading and partisan point of view. Mr. Lewis has a long history of left-leaning advocacy journalism and has received funding in the past from left-wing donors as evidenced by his own webpage. Ms. Mayer of The New Yorker has authored a number of ideologically-driven attacks on Koch and other job creators.
The study’s extreme bias and partisanship is exemplified by its reliance on an October 2011 Bloomberg Markets article that was debunked by us and widely discredited by many media outlets, including the Washington Post (three separate times), Bloomberg Business Week,and The Atlantic.
The study is filled with so many other inaccuracies and distortions that we won’t detail all of them here, since nearly all have been previously addressed on KochFacts. However, there are some overarching points we want to make:
Koch has been a consistent advocate for economic freedom and individual liberty, which benefits all people, for more than five decades regardless of which party was in power. Contrary to Mr. Lewis’ arguments, we take those positions even when the resulting policy would be detrimental to our short-term business interests, such as our longstanding opposition to subsidies of any kind. Government mandates and subsidies in energy are far more likely to result in corruption, cronyism and wasted resources than they are to foster innovations that benefit society. This is evidenced by the recent, well-documented failures of several government-subsidized alternative energy programs which cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
When it comes to the issue of climate change, for Mr. Lewis, or any others, to assert that all of the funding given by Charles Koch and David Koch has gone to “climate skeptic organizations” is inaccurate, sloppy, unsubstantiated and counter to honest reporting. Koch supports having an open, honest and science-based debate about the extent to which human activity is responsible for climate change. We are advocates for the critical review that is the foundation of sound science, and have funded a wide variety of organizations, causes and studies.
What Mr. Lewis did get right in his story is the one fact that Koch companies employ 60,000 people around the globe. Our employees make products and services that people want and need – things like fuels for transportation, energy to heat and cool buildings, fibers for high-quality carpets and garments, water filtration and pollution control equipment, fertilizer, consumer products, building materials and more – products that undoubtedly benefit Mr. Lewis and his partisan allies. We believe in the efficient use of all resources and are committed to maintaining a clean, safe and healthy environment as evidenced by the more than 700 awards we’ve received for safety, environmental excellence, community stewardship, innovation and customer service since January 2009 when the Obama Administration took office.
Even though the content is recycled and countervailing facts are omitted from the reporting, in keeping with the Left’s orchestration, we can count on one thing – that Mr. Lewis’s study will be picked up in all the usual places.