Two slanted articles by Steve Connor in the UK Independent published on January 25 got many basic facts about Koch wrong. In response, we submitted a letter pointing out the errors and omissions in Connor’s stories. Unfortunately, the newspaper edited our letter without our knowledge and without notice to its readers, in the process censoring key information and important context. Here below is the full version of what we sent to the Independent, and here is a link to the altered letter that appeared in the newspaper.
Two stories in your January 25 issue by Steve Connor were predictable in repeating tired and debunked partisan accusations about Koch Industries and its shareholders, Charles Koch and David Koch. The approach starts with a reporter working hard to “prove” his theory about the Kochs and climate change, thus offering readers just one side of the story. This is called advocacy journalism.
The pieces are littered with language intended to demonize the subjects of the stories and rally activists by using loaded words such as “secretive,” “anonymous,” “billionaire,” “undermine,” “closet skeptics,” and so on.
The reporter asserts that much of the Kochs’ funding given to a wide variety of organizations is tied to “promote skepticism towards climate change.” He states this with no evidence, only innuendo to support his theory. Quite to the contrary, Charles and David Koch believe it is important to understand the primary and secondary effects that proposed costly initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases will have on the earth’s overall climate and public health, relative to the cost of implementation.
Are Charles Koch and David Koch secretive? No. Like the owner of The Independent, they own and operate a private company. If the reporter had done some research, he could easily find that the Kochs have openly advocated for free-market principles for 50 years, including in Charles Koch’s 2007 book, The Science of Success. Recently, too, Charles Koch and David Koch have done in-depth interviews with Forbes magazine, the Weekly Standard magazine and other media outlets. Not exactly secretive.
Moreover, the Kochs are advocates of the critical review that is the foundation of sound science, as everyone interested in furthering discovery should be. Climate science is a complex and ever-changing issue.
We end by reminding the reporter of his own words written on June 3, 2011: “Science is a messy business. We like to think that it can give us clear-cut answers to difficult questions, but like any human endeavour it can frequently lead us up the wrong path.” Clearly, Mr. Connor’s story led him up the wrong path.
International Government & Public Affairs
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