Friday, February 17th, 2012

Confronting the New York Times on Inaccurate, Unverified Misinformation

The following letter was sent by the Charles Koch Foundation to senior editors at the New York Times:

Despite the Times’ own explicit standards on sourcing, the Charles Koch Foundation received no opportunity to verify or react to the assertions made about us in a piece by Justin Gillis and Leslie Kaufman [Leak Offers Glimpse of Campaign Against Climate Science; Feb 15, 2012]. Your reporters called other companies to verify or comment. Why not us?

The piece reported, “documents say that the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation contributed $25,000 last year and was expected to contribute $200,000 this year.” That is not true. As stated in a public statement released yesterday, the $25,000 grant that the Charles Koch Foundation gave Heartland last year was specifically directed to a healthcare research program and has nothing whatever to do with the climate research program at issue. The statement also made clear that the Foundation has made no further commitments of funding to Heartland. Had anyone from the New York Times contacted the Charles Koch Foundation, these points could have been mentioned in the story, or perhaps, your paper would not have made the false statements in the first place.

In addition, as noted in your story, the Heartland Institute itself has issued a statement declaring that at least some of the cited documentation is fabricated. In light of that, it is disappointing that the Times failed to make any effort to verify the numbers in relation to outside parties like ours that were cited.

I would appreciate some explanation for why we were not contacted. I also would appreciate that the Times set the record straight with respect to the assertions about us.

Tonya Mullins
Director of Communications
Charles Koch Foundation

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